Medieval settlement 170m north east of Cusworth Hall
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1019080
Date first listed: 11-Apr-1980
Date of most recent amendment: 26-Jan-2000
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This copy shows the entry on 12-Dec-2018 at 23:55:42.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Doncaster (Metropolitan Authority)
Parish: Sprotbrough and Cusworth
National Grid Reference: SE 54704 04060
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 Pennine Slope sub-Province of the Central Province,
which embraces the varied scarp and vale topography flanking the higher
portions of the southern Pennines, where narrow escarpments of limestone and
sandstone and softer shale vales give a distinct north-south grain to the
landscape. Dispersed settlement increases from extremely low to medium
densities in the south east of the sub-Province to high densities at the north
west. With the exception of Sherwood Forest, the region is well stocked with
nucleated settlements, some old but others the result of 18th- and 19th-
century industrial developments. Anglo-Saxon `wood' names are common among
placenames, and the area was well wooded in 1086.
The Millstone Grit Scarps local region is an undulating terrain of north to
south sandstone ridges separated by vales. It is characterised by village
settlements, with low densities of scattered dwellings and farmsteads between
them. Many of the villages have, however, grown in recent centuries, and the
medieval settlement pattern was of hamlets and farmsteads set in a woodland
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 subdivivded into strips (known as lands) which were allocated to individual tenants. The cultivtion 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. 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. The earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned areas of the medieval settlement 170m north east of Cusworth Hall are some of the best preserved in the region. Significant archaeological deposits will survive beneath the ground surface despite the 20th century alterations to the site. The earthworks provide a picture of the medieval village layout and how it fitted within the wider landscape. Taken as a whole, the medieval settlement remains at Cusworth will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the development and decline of medieval settlements 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 Cusworth medieval settlement. The site is situated in a walled paddock
between Cusworth Hall and the present village of Cusworth.
The settlement is first documented in the Domesday survey of 1086, where it is
recorded that Cusworth, then called Scuscewrde, was held by both Robert de
Busli and the Earl of Warren. A number of title deeds dating from the early
15th century make reference to the village of Cusworth and serve to
demonstrate that it was still in existence in the late 17th century. Cusworth
Hall was built in 1669 and was the seat of the Wrightson family from this
time. It was possible that parts of the medieval settlement were cleared when
the landscaped park and estate village were created in the late 17th or early
Although there have been many phases of alteration, the street pattern of the
village is typical of medieval design, with houses lying to the north of the
main street and crofts, or enclosures, stretching back to what is still called
Back Lane. The surviving remains within the area of protection broadly confrom
to this pattern and indicate that the village had either shrunk or shifted
during the medieval period. The main street and Back Lane are linked by a
sunken track which runs along the eastern side of the monument.
The monument survives as a series of earthwork and buried remains in a paddock
which has been divided east to west by a wooden fence. South of the fence the
land drops steeply to the south east. Although the drop follows the natural
lie of the land, earthworks in this area do suggest that this slope has been
enhanced. In the south western corner of the monument, an earthen bank
approximately 3m wide and surviving to a height of approximately 0.5m follows
the line of the paddock wall. The curve of the wall, in the shape of an
elongated reverse `S', is a common feature of boundaries which follow the line
of medieval ridge and furrow (cultivation strips). The 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. From
this evidence, the earthen bank which follows the alignment of the wall is
interpreted as a headland, a bank which marks a furlong (a group of
cultivation strips). To the north of the dividing fence the headland has
become degraded and in the north western corner of the paddock the bank has
South of the dividing fence, and separating the headland from the lower area
in the south east corner of the monument, is a linear bank. The bank, which is
composed of turf covered stone, survives to a height of approximately 0.5m, is
about 1m wide and represents the buried remains of a wall. It runs from north
to south across the full length of the monument, although it is less clearly
defined at its northern end and appears to have suffered some disturbance in
the area of the dividing wooden fence. To the north of the fence and west of
this bank is a rectangular feature measuring approximately 4.5m by 5.5m. The
lower two courses of this brick built feature are visible on the surface and
indicate that it is of post-medieval origin.
In the northern half of the monument, and east of the stone bank, are two low,
earthen banks, which, aligned north to south, divide the area into three
linear crofts. The crofts vary in width from approximately 23m to 11m. Close
to the eastern edge of the largest croft is a small rectangular feature which
measures approximately 6m by 7m. This is defined by low banks which are
approximately 1.5m wide and survive to a height of 0.35m. The feature is
interpreted as a building platform, with the low banks representing the buried
remains of walls.
The southern half of the croft boundary banks have been degraded and are less
clearly visible than those to the north. The construction of a stable block,
which is located approximately half way along the eastern slope of the
paddock, and the erection of the wooden fence dividing the field have
disturbed this area, but significant archaeological remains are still evident.
All fences, feeding troughs, the stable block and electricity pylon are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is
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: 29943
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Mailton, J, The Doncaster District An Archaeological Study, (1977), 29-30
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Yorkshire, (1912), 255
Sheffield Archives CD 447a,b,448,153, Title Deeds relating to Cusworth,
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing