Wigthorpe medieval settlement and part of the open field system, immediately north of Wigthorpe Farm
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Bassetlaw (District Authority)
- Carlton in Lindrick
- National Grid Reference:
- SK 59150 83427
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 West Sherwood Forest local region is identified on the basis of few
nucleations and extremely low densities of dispersed settlements. A Royal
Forest by the 13th century, the name `shire-wood' suggests the long survival
of ancient woodland. The 19th-century pattern of great houses, parklands,
woodland blocks and open heath overlies older structures, including medieval
lodges and parks and specialist stock farms.
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.
The earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned areas of Wigthorpe medieval settlement and part of the open field system are well-preserved and retain significant archaeological remains. The earthworks and aerial photographic records combine to provide a detailed picture of the layout of the settlement and its chronological development. As a whole, the medieval settlement of Wigthorpe 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.
The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned areas
of Wigthorpe medieval settlement. The monument lies to the north of the main
road which runs north east to south west through the existing hamlet of
Wigthorpe. It is situated on a slight terrace approximately 30m above sea
level and is bisected by a small tributary of the River Ryton which now acts
as a field drain.
The monument survives as a series of earthwork and buried remains. Towards the
eastern edge of the area of protection the ground rises up and is terraced
level with the existing road. On the top of the terrace a series of low banks
define a number of small rectangular enclosures or crofts which are laid out
along the western edge of the existing road. At the eastern end of the crofts
smaller rectangular features are again defined by low banks, but these are
most clearly visible from aerial photographs. The smaller rectangular features
are interpreted as the sites of medieval buildings or tofts, with the low
banks representing the buried remains of walls.
Running north east to south west along the western edge of the crofts is a
wide gully. This continues to the south west as far as Wigthorpe Farm, and to
the north west, where it terminates at the edge of the existing road, just
south of a curve in the alignment of the road. The gully is interpreted as a
sunken track or hollow way, a feature which is characteristic of medieval
settlements. This has been partly infilled and shows on the ground as a
shallow gully, but it is clearly visible from aerial photographs.
To the west of the sunken track is evidence of at least another three crofts,
but the low banks defining these have been degraded by ridge and furrow which
overlies the croft remains. In this particular area the ridge and furrow is
very closely spaced and is characteristic of post-medieval cultivation. It
would appear that the area once occupied by medieval crofts and possibly
building platforms was incorporated into post-medieval arable fields before
being converted to permanent pasture as it is today. Aerial photographs show
that the post-medieval ridge and furrow to the east of the field drain
continues on the same alignment as that to the west, suggesting the line of
the drain has been diverted in relatively recent times to cut through the post
medieval field. A disused field boundary ditch marks the northern edge of the
post-medieval remains and a modern field boundary fence marks the southern
To the north and west of the post-medieval ridge and furrow are the remains of
part of the medieval open field system. This is visible as part of at least
two furlongs (groups of lands or cultivation strips) marked by headlands. The
cultivation strips collectively form ridge and furrow and survive to a height
of approximately 0.5m. The ridge and furrow in these areas is broader and more
widely spaced than those of the post-medieval period.
The origins of the settlement are unclear, but the form and layout of the
earthworks suggest it is of medieval origin. In the Domesday survey of 1086 it
is recorded that Roger de Busli had six thegns in Carlton in Lindrick, the
settlement just north of Wigthorpe. Each thegn had a hall and it is possible
the settlement of Wigthorpe built up around one of these halls. The existing
hall at Wigthorpe is largely of 17th/18th century date, but may occupy the
site of an earlier structure. Wigthorpe was certainly in existence in 1544,
when it was mentioned in a will.
All modern fences and gates 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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Gover, J E B , 'English Place-Name Society' in The Place-Names Of Nottinghamshire, , Vol. XVII, (1940), 72
Chris Cox Neg. 94-155/7 18/7/1994, Wigthorpe, (1994)
Title: Nottinghamshire Village Earthwork Survey Source Date: 1994 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Survey record no. 113-115
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