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Little Carlton medieval village and part of the meadow field system

A Scheduled Monument in South Muskham, Nottinghamshire

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Latitude: 53.1083 / 53°6'29"N

Longitude: -0.8406 / 0°50'26"W

OS Eastings: 477711.323361

OS Northings: 357413.90752

OS Grid: SK777574

Mapcode National: GBR BJW.49J

Mapcode Global: WHFHH.240G

Entry Name: Little Carlton medieval village and part of the meadow field system

Scheduled Date: 9 May 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019870

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29991

County: Nottinghamshire

Civil Parish: South Muskham

Traditional County: Nottinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Nottinghamshire

Church of England Parish: South Muskham

Church of England Diocese: Southwell and Nottingham


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned areas
of Little Carlton medieval village. The monument is situated on flat ground
approximately 1km north of the River Trent and 1km west of the village of
South Muskham. It is in two separate areas of protection. Little Carlton is
first mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086 where it is documented that
Carleton, as it was then known, was owned by the Archbishop of York. In the
survey Carleton is listed in conjunction with Muskham and it is recorded that
between them there was enough land for nine and a half ploughs. It also
documents a mill, 66 acres of meadow and 80 acres of underwood. At the time of
the Domesday survey the land was worth a total of 10 shillings. Little Carlton
is sometimes called South Carlton or Carlton by Newark. In 1180 the settlement
was known as Karlet(un), in 1278 as Sutkarleton, in 1332 as South Carlton
Juxta Bathele and in 1425 as Lytel Carleton.
The abandoned areas of Little Carlton medieval village survive as a series
of earthworks and buried remains which are defined by two areas of protection
both lying to the west of Bathley Lane and north of Ollerton Road. In the area
east and south of Manor House Farm the monument is characterised by a series
of rectangular enclosures or crofts arranged around a sub-rectangular open
green. The green is bounded on its eastern side by a brook and on its south,
west and north sides by a shallow gully which is interpreted as a sunken track
or hollow way. The enclosures are defined by a series of low banks that
survive up to a height of approximately 0.75m. To the south of the green the
enclosures are generally aligned on a north to south axis although at least
two of these are sub-divided east to west. To the west of the green the
enclosures are aligned east to west and are bounded on their western edge by
another, wider, hollow way. This hollow way runs north to south from Ollerton
Road to the northern edge of the largest area of protection. Aerial
photographs show that this hollow way originally continued to the south of
Ollerton Road but ploughing has degraded the earthworks in this area so they
are no longer visible on the ground surface.
Some of the enclosures aligned east to west, which lie between the green and
the westernmost hollow way, and those immediately south of Manor Farm
Cottages, contain internal features, which are, again, defined by low banks.
These are interpreted as the remains of medieval buildings, or tofts, with the
low banks representing the buried remains of walls. The enclosures, which
contain no internal features, were probably used for stock control or
Immediately south of Manor Farm Cottages is a circular depression, which, on
the modern Ordnance Survey map is interpreted as a pond. This was partly
infilled during the construction of a new house, immediately east of Manor
Farm Cottages, but is still evident on the ground surface as a slight
earthwork. A second, larger pond, which still retains water, lies close to the
northern edge of this area of protection. This is surrounded by slight linear
banks, which appear to define more enclosures.
The second area of protection is again characterised by a series of enclosures
which are defined by low banks and ditches. These are different in form to
those further south, being generally larger and with different internal
features. The largest enclosure, in the northernmost field, contains a series
of ridges. The ridges resemble cultivation strips but the flattened tops of
the ridges and the fact that they are straight suggests they were used for a
different purpose. Their western edge is defined by a narrow gully which runs
approximately 10m east, but parallel to, the brook. The brook marks the
western edge of this area of protection. These banks and ditches are
interpreted as water management features for the maintenance of water meadows.
Water would have been conducted into the meadow via these artificially
constructed channels, allowing water to flow across the grass. The system was
used to produce early grass for sheep, especially young lambs. Such land
management dates from the 14th century but was more widely adopted from the
16th century when sheep farming became more widespread.
The reason why the settlement was partly abandoned is unclear but it is
suggested that a change from arable to pastoral farming in the later medieval
period meant that fewer people were needed to manage the land and that,
consequently, the settlement was unable to sustain a large population. It is
believed that many families made their fortunes from the wool industry in this
area during the later medieval period.
All modern fences, gates and track surfaces are excluded from the scheduling
although the ground beneath all these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains
needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been
divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive
mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided
into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have
gradually evolved during the last 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the Trent sub-Province of the Central Province, where
the broad Trent valley swings in a great arc across midland England. Underlain
by heavy clays, it is given variety by superficial glacial and alluvial
deposits. Although treated as a single sub-Province, it has many subtle
variations. Generally, it is characterised by a great number of villages and
hamlets which cluster thickly along scarp-foot and scarp-tail zones, locations
suitable for exploiting the contrasting terrains. Throughout the sub-Province
there are very low and extremely low densities of dispersed farmsteads, some
of which are ancient, but most of which are 18th-century and later movement of
farms out of earlier villages.

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre
of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and
woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but when they survive as
earthworks their most distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks,
platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed
crofts and small enclosed paddocks. They frequently include the parish church
within their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system most villages
include one or more manorial centres which may also survive as visible remains
as well as below ground deposits. In the central province of England, villages
were the most distinctive aspect of medieval life, and their archaeological
remains are one of the most important sources of understanding about rural
life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest.
Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on
large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into
strips (known as lands) which were allocated to individual tenants. The
cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs pulled by oxen-teams produced
long, wide ridges and the resultant `ridge and furrow' where it survives is
the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Individual
strips or lands were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal
headlands at the plough turning-points and lateral grass baulks. Furlongs were
in turn grouped into large open fields. Well-preserved ridge and furrow,
especially in its original context adjacent to village earthworks, is both an
important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive
contribution to the character of the historic landscape. It is usually now
covered by the hedges or walls of subsequent field enclosure.
From the 14th century onwards, various improvements were made to increase the
amount of grass and hay that could be produced from low-lying meadowland.
Water was conducted into the meadow via artificially constructed channels and
elaborate sluice gates and was allowed to flow across the grass. It was not
allowed to stand, merely to percolate through the roots, and channels were dug
to conduct the water away into another meadow or back into the stream or
river. Such meadows produced early grass for sheep especially young lambs, and
were frost free in early spring, as the running water was not as cold as the
grass itself.
The earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned areas of Little Carlton
medieval village are well-preserved and retain significant archaeological
remains. The earthworks, historical documentation and the aerial photographic
records combine to provide a detailed picture of the layout of the settlement.
As a whole, the medieval settlement of Little Carlton will add greatly to our
knowledge and understanding of the development and subsequent abandonment of
medieval settlement in the area and its position in the wider landscape.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Johnson, R, The Deserted Medieval Settlement at Little Carlton, (1989), 1-36
Throsby, J, Antiquities of Nottinghamshire, (1972), 148-152
Pickering, J,7757/4-8,13 7857/7,

Source: Historic England

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