Wigthorpe medieval settlement and part of the open field system, immediately north of Wigthorpe Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Wigthorpe medieval settlement and part of the open field system, immediately north of Wigthorpe Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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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 edge. 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.

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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

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