Medieval field system and long houses at Lawrence Field


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021041

Date first listed: 16-Apr-1935

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Sep-2003


Ordnance survey map of Medieval field system and long houses at Lawrence Field
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Derbyshire

District: Derbyshire Dales (District Authority)

Parish: Grindleford

National Park: PEAK DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: SK 25197 79546


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 past 1500 years or more. The High Peak local region uplands bear traces of pre-medieval occupation, but the barren plateaux surfaces are now virtually uninhabited. Dark gritstone farmhouses were built in sheltered hollows, while deserted and derelict habitation sites witness the harsh conditions in these sheep grazing lands, or mark moribund industrial ventures. Of medieval settlements only a few dispersed homestead sites have so far been recognised.

In the medieval period many areas of the country supported a pattern of dispersed rather than nucleated settlement. Small hamlets or individual farms were spread across the countryside; their distribution often reflecting the pattern of land suitable for agriculture. In some areas this dispersed settlement pattern reflected `pioneer' activity as land was first claimed for agriculture. Evidence for such settlements takes a variety of forms. Earthworks may indicate platforms in which houses and other buildings stood or may indicate the buildings themselves. Roads and trackways and enclosed crofts and paddocks may also be identifiable. Dispersed settlements provide an important insight into medieval rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest.

Dispersed settlements were supported by agricultural exploitation of adjacent land. Fields were defined, often by stone walls, with land within them being cleared of stone to improve their use for arable cultivation or animal pasturage. Traces of these field systems are often preserved as earthwork features.

The medieval field system and long houses at Lawrence Field are well- preserved. They are an important survival of land first claimed for settlement and agriculture during the medieval period in the Peak District uplands.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a large ovoid enclosure which has a perimeter boundary constructed from upright stones and drystone walling. Within the enclosure are linear clearance banks and cairns indicating that the area was used as a field system. There are also two long houses incorporated within the south eastern end of the field system. The field system and houses are medieval and indicate early settlement on this area of moorland.

The enclosed field system is oval in shape with its longer axis oriented south west to north east. It is approximately 350m by 190m in size. The walls are fragmentary and incomplete in places, but despite this the full extent of the field system can be identified. Surviving lengths of wall are visible as turf covered banks of stone between 0.4m and 0.6m in height. An external ditch runs parallel to the main wall on the northern side of the enclosure. Possible entrances into the enclosure lie on its northern and western side.

The interior of the enclosure contains 15 or more lines of cleared stones, some including cairns. They are similar distances apart, suggesting that the interior was divided into cultivation strips between 5m and 10m apart. There are also several individual cairns within the cleared strips.

The two long houses lie within the south eastern corner of the field system. The large house is ovoid in shape and measures 13m by 6m. Its drystone walls stand to a height of 0.7m and are about 0.65m thick. Two almost opposing gaps in the walling located in the long sides of the building are likely to be original entrances. There is some evidence of post-medieval excavation at the south eastern end of the house. The smaller long house measures 10m by 4.5m. Its walls stand to a height of 0.45m and are 0.5m wide.

Excavation of the site produced several sherds of 11th or 12th century pottery together with part of a flat quern stone and some partially smelted lead ore. The field system has been described as a medieval assart, a newly established settlement and field system on the moor.

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: 29793

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Barnatt, J, Greenwood Farm, Hathersage, Derbyshire, Arch. Survey 1993, (1993), 3
Barnatt, J, Greenwood Farm, Hathersage, Derbyshire, Arch. Survey 1993, (1993), 3
Hart, CR, North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey to AD 1500, (1981), 132
Cole, W M, 'Transactions of the Hunter Archaeological Society' in The Longshaw Earthworks, (1937), 362
Cole, W M, 'Transactions of the Hunter Archaeological Society' in The Longshaw Earthworks, (1937), 362

End of official listing