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


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement 170m north east of Cusworth Hall
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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 landscape.

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 18th century. 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 been levelled. 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 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: 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,

End of official listing