Medieval settlement and remains of open fields immediately west of East Stoke village


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018129

Date first listed: 04-Jun-1957

Date of most recent amendment: 16-Nov-1998


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement and remains of open fields immediately west of East Stoke village
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Nottinghamshire

District: Newark and Sherwood (District Authority)

Parish: East Stoke

National Grid Reference: SK7490049788, SK7512749940, SK7516049544


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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. In England the tradition of ice house construction began in the late 17th century with a high point of activity in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were built to serve the increasing number of country houses that were being constructed at that time. Ice houses remained in use until the early 20th century. Generally it was the wealthier landowners who constructed ice houses for the ownership of an ice house was an important part of the social aspirations of the period. They were constructed for the storage of ice to provide a constant and sustainable supply which was used for domestic and medicinal use. Game and other food may also be stored in the chamber of the ice house so the roof and/or sides may have shelves and hooks for this purpose. The earthwork remains of the abandoned areas of East Stoke medieval settlement are particularly well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. The earthworks, aerial photographs and documentary evidence provide a clear picture of the village layout and how it fitted within the wider agricultural landscape. Taken as a whole, the medieval settlement of East Stoke will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the development of medieval settlement in the area.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned areas of East Stoke medieval settlement, the standing remains of a post-medieval ice house and part of the battlefield of East Stoke. The monument is in three areas of protection all of which lie to the west of the A46 trunk road and to the north and south of Church Lane. The earthworks are located south west of a large meander of the River Trent, between the church and the existing village which is now centred on the A46 trunk road. East Stoke is first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 where it is recorded that `Stoches' belonged to Ilbert de Laci and Berenger de Todeni and was worth a total of 25 shillings. `East' was added to the name by 1340. East Stoke is perhaps best known as being the site of the last pitched battle of the Wars of the Roses (16 June 1487), the victory of which finally established King Henry VII and the Tudor dynasty. The medieval settlement remains are partly enclosed by the battlefield area. The two opposing forces positioned themselves and commenced battle in the fields to the immediate south of the village. During the widening of the modern A46 a burial pit was discovered in the field to the west of the road and opposite Foss Way Farm. The pit contained the entangled remains of at least 11 articulated inhumation burials which are thought to date to the time of the battle. With the exception of this evidence for the burial of casualties there is no archaeological evidence for the battle. Stoke Field is in the Register of Historic Battlefields. An enclosure map of 1796 illustrates that the village, extended from the Fosse Way, along both sides of Church Lane towards St Oswalds Church, which had been built in the 13th and 14th centuries and functioned as the medieval parish church. The village also extended north from the junction of Church Lane, Moor Lane and Fosse Way and east along Moor Lane, much of which remains in occupation today. Enclosure of the landscape increased in intensity from the late 18th century. Stoke Hall was built close to the church in the late 18th century and with it an area of parkland was created. The creation of the park, which survives to the north of Church Lane, may have contributed to the desertion of the western parts of the village. The village of East Stoke had shrunk eastwards as far as Humber Lane by 1887. The eastern boundary of the monument is defined by the Fosse Way, an important Roman road which ran diagonally across the country from Topsham in Devon to Lincoln. The monument survives as a series of earthworks and buried remains which straddle both Church Lane, a sunken road which is still in use, and Humber Lane, a remnant of a prehistoric route known as the Upper Foss. In the field to the south of Church Lane and north of Humber Lane the ground slopes gradually to the north east. In this area the earthworks can be divided into four distinct areas. The northernmost section, which is marked to the south by a large dry pond, contains a series of four terraces, approximately 10m wide, which are cut into the natural slope of the land. A sunken trackway, approximately 17m wide, runs at right angles to the terraces before turning north west and terminating at the northern field boundary. Other earthworks in this area include a narrow drainage gully which runs from the top of the field to the pond. The earthworks in this section of the field appear to relate to a post-medieval landscaped garden belonging to East Stoke Hall but the relationship between some of the earthworks and those further to the south east suggests that earlier features were incorporated into the design. One such feature is a flat terrace approximately 7m wide which runs along the western field boundary for the full length of the field. To the south of the pond, and parallel to it, a series of five rectangular tofts or enclosures define the second division of the field. The tofts are aligned north east to south west and with the exception of two, run the full width of the field. A long linear bank which runs north west to south east from the pond to the southernmost field boundary cuts across the enclosures and marks the western boundary of the two smaller tofts. Rectangular shaped platforms, which mark the foundations of medieval buildings, are visible in three of the enclosures adjacent to Church Lane. The low banks defining the platforms are created by the buried remains of walls. The size of the platforms vary in each case, the smallest measuring just 10m by 14m and the largest approximately three times this size. The third section of the field, south of the tofts and east of the linear bank, comprises a network of earthworks. To the south, three rectangular building platforms measuring up to 35m by 20m are visible. These are defined by low banks and appear to have been slightly terraced into the slope of the field. North of these a large oval shaped depression has been cut into the slope. This has been interpreted as the site of post-medieval quarrying. A second oval shaped feature adjacent to Church Lane may also be explained in the same way. At the southern edge of this field, adjacent to Humber Lane, is the site of a post-medieval ice house, constructed of brick and probably dating to the 18th century, when it would have been built to serve East Stoke Hall. The ice house consists of a sunken chamber which is rectangular in plan with high vertical sides reaching up to the ground surface. It is capped with an arched roof which sits above the current ground surface. Access is gained from an entrance which faces north. The rest of this field contains the well preserved remains of part of the open field system. The surviving remains are visible as parts of five medieval furlongs (groups of lands or cultivation strips) marked by headlands. The cultivation strips collectively form ridge and furrow which is curved in the shape of an elongated reverse `S'. This shape developed over the years from the need to swing the plough team out at the end of a strip to enable it to turn and to continue ploughing in the opposite direction. The remains survive to a height of 0.5m. Access to the fields would have been provided by a back lane which is evident at East Stoke in the form of the flat terrace which runs along the length of the western field boundary. Further ridge and furrow is visible surrounding enclosures and building platforms in the protected areas to the north of Church Lane and to the south of Humber Lane. To the north of Church Lane the village earthworks have been slightly distorted by the planting of trees probably at the time when the park associated with East Stoke Hall was created. However, a number of tofts and building platforms are evident particularly in the southern half of the area. These are aligned north east to south west with building platforms towards the south west but the precise layout of the tofts is difficult to determine. Approximately 250m south east of the church a sunken trackway links with Church Lane and runs for a short distance in a northerly direction. At the junction of the two roads the earthworks survive to a depth of approximately 1.2m but soon shallow out. The junction is now blocked by the brick and stone wall which runs along the north side of Church Lane. The wall defines the land which would have once belonged to East Stoke Hall and which also acts as an enclosure wall for `The Park'. The third area of protection, to the south of both Humber Lane and Church Lane, contains more village earthworks. To the east of Arden school two sides of a rectangular enclosure are clearly visible defined by a low bank and shallow ditch. The remains are interpreted as field boundary banks, which define a stock enclosure. Running from the north west corner of the field to the edge of the enclosure is a large bank to the north of which is a sunken area. An early aerial photograph indicates this is part of a sunken trackway which led from Humber Lane diagonally across the field. The full extent of this trackway is difficult to determine because use of a modern farm track through the field has distorted the evidence. Another rectangular enclosure is visible in the north east corner of the field defined by a shallow gully approximately 1.5m wide. The remainder of the field contains very well preserved remains of the open field system. As a whole, the surviving earthworks correspond very closely to the enclosure map of 1796 to the point where the site of specific buildings are discernible on the ground today. All fences, gates, feeding troughs and modern metalled surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these is included.

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


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 29914

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Nottinghamshire, (1906), 282
Trent, , Peak Archaeological Trust, , Archaeology of the Fosse Way, (1992), 97
Oswald, A, 'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Some Unrecorded Earthworks In Nottinghamshire, , Vol. 43, (1939), 13
Dennison, E, MPP Monument Class Description - Ice Houses, (1989)
English Heritage Battlefields Registe, Stoke Field 1487, (1995)
English Heritage Battlefields Registe, Stoke Field 1487, (1995)
Notts. Archive Ref EA 48/4, Plan of the Lordships of East Stoke and Elston in the county of, (1796)
SMR entry, (1987)

End of official listing