Medieval farmstead and field system 525m south of Yarncliff Quarry


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018273

Date first listed: 29-Jan-1998


Ordnance survey map of Medieval farmstead and field system 525m south of Yarncliff Quarry
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Derbyshire

District: Derbyshire Dales (District Authority)

Parish: Grindleford

National Park: PEAK DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: SK 25461 78807


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 past 1500 years or more. The High Peak local region uplands bear traces of pre-medieval occupation, but the barren plateaux surfaces are now virtually uninhabited. Dark gritstone farmhouses were built in sheltered hollows, while deserted and derelict habitation sites witness the harsh conditions in these sheep grazing lands, or mark moribund industrial ventures. Of medieval settlements only a few dispersed homestead sites have so far been recognised.

In the medieval period many areas of the county supported a pattern of dispersed rather than nucleated settlement. Small hamlets or individual farms were spread across the countryside, their distribution often reflecting the pattern of land suitable for agriculture. In some areas this dispersed settlement pattern reflected `pioneer' activity as land was first claimed for agriculture. Evidence for such settlements takes a variety of forms. Earthworks may indicate platforms on which houses and other buildings stood or may indicate the buildings themselves. Roads, trackways and enclosed crofts and paddocks may also be identifiable. Dispersed settlements provide an important insight into medieval rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest. Dispersed settlements were supported by agricultural exploitation of adjacent land. Fields were defined, often by stone walls, with land inside them being cleared of stone to improve their use for cultivation or animal pasturage. Traces of these field-systems are often preserved as earthwork features. The medieval long houses and associated field remains 525m south of Yarncliff Quarry are well preserved and are important in demonstrating pioneer medieval settlement in the Peak District uplands.


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


The monument includes the foundations of four medieval long houses and associated clearance features comprising linear banks. The remains form a small settlement and relicts of a field system. All four of the long houses are similar in form, although arranged as two pairs of buildings, each pair having a large and a small building. One pair is located towards the centre of the field, the other at the southern end of the enclosure, next to a small animal pound. The long houses are contained within a small post-medieval enclosure which, unlike the surrounding fields, has not been improved. Approximately 400m to the north are the remains of two medieval enclosures which are likely to be contemporary with the long houses and are the subject of a separate scheduling. All four of the long houses are ovoid in shape. Of the southernmost pair, the larger and more northerly building measures approximately 9m by 4.5m. The other long house is 7.5m by 3m. The walls of each building, which were constructed of stones and turf, stand to a height of 0.65m and are about 0.6m thick. Both buildings are oriented east-west and have two opposing entrances, one on both of the longer sides. The entrances are not central, but towards the western ends of each building. The long houses stand on platforms cut into a slight south facing slope and are revetted at their western ends with large orthostats (upright boulders) and turf. Within the larger building is an irregular, shallow depression about 1.5m in diameter of unknown origin and function but may be the result of an excavation. The second pair of long houses in the centre of the enclosure are of a similar construction. The walls stand to a height of approximately 0.35m. The smaller of the two long houses is also oriented east-west like the southerly pair and also stands on a platform similarly revetted at its west end. The larger long house stands to the west of the smaller and is oriented north- south. It, too, stands on a platform cut into the hillslope on the eastern side and is revetted with stones and turf on the long side to the west. Within the same small field are the remains of linear clearance features comprising three distinct lengths of turf containing large weathered stones. Two of the banks now outline a disused hollow way and track leading towards a post-medieval barn in another enclosure to the north. The clearance is likely to be part of the settlement assarting or removed from previous clearance heaps when the hollow way came into usage. The third linear bank lies closer to the long houses and is likely to be related to clearance associated with that settlement. In addition, there are small quarrying depressions within the enclosure which are probably related to wall building activities. Similar long houses, approximately 450m to the west at Lawrence Field, have been partially excavated and pottery evidence dates the structures to the 11th or 12th century at the latest. The long houses and medieval field systems are almost certainly associated with clearance and enclosure of common land during the medieval period, a process resulting in irregular enclosures known as assarts. The remains in Lawrence Field, Sheffield Plantation and these long houses represent the intaking of the plateau above Padley Manor. Excluded from the scheduling are all post medieval walls, gates, fences and posts, although the ground beneath 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: 29818

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hart, CR, North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey to AD 1500, (1981), 132
Hart, CR, North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey, (1984), 132
Beswick, P, Merrills, D, 'Trans. of the Hunter Archaeological Soc.' in L H Butcher's Survey of Early Settlement ..., (1983)
Beswick, P, Merrills, D, 'Trans. of the Hunter Archaeological Soc.' in L H Butcher's Survey of Early Settlement ..., (1983)
Barnatt, JW, Yarncliffe, Longshaw Estate .... Derbyshire, 1994, unpublished survey report
Barnatt, JW, Yarncliffe, Longshaw Estate .... Derbyshire, 1994, unpublished survey report

End of official listing