Little Carlton medieval village and part of the meadow field system


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019870

Date first listed: 09-May-2001


Ordnance survey map of Little Carlton medieval village and part of the meadow field system
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Jan-2019 at 22:18:16.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Nottinghamshire

District: Newark and Sherwood (District Authority)

Parish: South Muskham

National Grid Reference: SK7763157295, SK7781857609


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 Trent sub-Province of the Central Province, where the broad Trent valley swings in a great arc across midland England. Underlain by heavy clays, it is given variety by superficial glacial and alluvial deposits. Although treated as a single sub-Province, it has many subtle variations. Generally, it is characterised by a great number of villages and hamlets which cluster thickly along scarp-foot and scarp-tail zones, locations suitable for exploiting the contrasting terrains. Throughout the sub-Province there are very low and extremely low densities of dispersed farmsteads, some of which are ancient, but most of which are 18th-century and later movement of farms out of earlier villages.

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. From the 14th century onwards, various improvements were made to increase the amount of grass and hay that could be produced from low-lying meadowland. Water was conducted into the meadow via artificially constructed channels and elaborate sluice gates and was allowed to flow across the grass. It was not allowed to stand, merely to percolate through the roots, and channels were dug to conduct the water away into another meadow or back into the stream or river. Such meadows produced early grass for sheep especially young lambs, and were frost free in early spring, as the running water was not as cold as the grass itself. The earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned areas of Little Carlton medieval village are well-preserved and retain significant archaeological remains. The earthworks, historical documentation and the aerial photographic records combine to provide a detailed picture of the layout of the settlement. As a whole, the medieval settlement of Little Carlton 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.


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 Little Carlton medieval village. The monument is situated on flat ground approximately 1km north of the River Trent and 1km west of the village of South Muskham. It is in two separate areas of protection. Little Carlton is first mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086 where it is documented that Carleton, as it was then known, was owned by the Archbishop of York. In the survey Carleton is listed in conjunction with Muskham and it is recorded that between them there was enough land for nine and a half ploughs. It also documents a mill, 66 acres of meadow and 80 acres of underwood. At the time of the Domesday survey the land was worth a total of 10 shillings. Little Carlton is sometimes called South Carlton or Carlton by Newark. In 1180 the settlement was known as Karlet(un), in 1278 as Sutkarleton, in 1332 as South Carlton Juxta Bathele and in 1425 as Lytel Carleton. The abandoned areas of Little Carlton medieval village survive as a series of earthworks and buried remains which are defined by two areas of protection both lying to the west of Bathley Lane and north of Ollerton Road. In the area east and south of Manor House Farm the monument is characterised by a series of rectangular enclosures or crofts arranged around a sub-rectangular open green. The green is bounded on its eastern side by a brook and on its south, west and north sides by a shallow gully which is interpreted as a sunken track or hollow way. The enclosures are defined by a series of low banks that survive up to a height of approximately 0.75m. To the south of the green the enclosures are generally aligned on a north to south axis although at least two of these are sub-divided east to west. To the west of the green the enclosures are aligned east to west and are bounded on their western edge by another, wider, hollow way. This hollow way runs north to south from Ollerton Road to the northern edge of the largest area of protection. Aerial photographs show that this hollow way originally continued to the south of Ollerton Road but ploughing has degraded the earthworks in this area so they are no longer visible on the ground surface. Some of the enclosures aligned east to west, which lie between the green and the westernmost hollow way, and those immediately south of Manor Farm Cottages, contain internal features, which are, again, defined by low banks. These are interpreted as the remains of medieval buildings, or tofts, with the low banks representing the buried remains of walls. The enclosures, which contain no internal features, were probably used for stock control or allotments. Immediately south of Manor Farm Cottages is a circular depression, which, on the modern Ordnance Survey map is interpreted as a pond. This was partly infilled during the construction of a new house, immediately east of Manor Farm Cottages, but is still evident on the ground surface as a slight earthwork. A second, larger pond, which still retains water, lies close to the northern edge of this area of protection. This is surrounded by slight linear banks, which appear to define more enclosures. The second area of protection is again characterised by a series of enclosures which are defined by low banks and ditches. These are different in form to those further south, being generally larger and with different internal features. The largest enclosure, in the northernmost field, contains a series of ridges. The ridges resemble cultivation strips but the flattened tops of the ridges and the fact that they are straight suggests they were used for a different purpose. Their western edge is defined by a narrow gully which runs approximately 10m east, but parallel to, the brook. The brook marks the western edge of this area of protection. These banks and ditches are interpreted as water management features for the maintenance of water meadows. Water would have been conducted into the meadow via these artificially constructed channels, allowing water to flow across the grass. The system was used to produce early grass for sheep, especially young lambs. Such land management dates from the 14th century but was more widely adopted from the 16th century when sheep farming became more widespread. The reason why the settlement was partly abandoned is unclear but it is suggested that a change from arable to pastoral farming in the later medieval period meant that fewer people were needed to manage the land and that, consequently, the settlement was unable to sustain a large population. It is believed that many families made their fortunes from the wool industry in this area during the later medieval period. All modern fences, gates and track surfaces are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath all 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: 29991

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Johnson, R, The Deserted Medieval Settlement at Little Carlton, (1989), 1-36
Throsby, J, Antiquities of Nottinghamshire, (1972), 148-152
Pickering, J,7757/4-8,13 7857/7,

End of official listing