Pleasley Chapel / Moorhaigh 1974 -75

Pleasley Chapel 1974/75

Type; Medieval church and multi-period occupation site

Location; Moorhaigh near Pleasley, SK 5012 6328
Project Leaders Derek March, David Bowler (surveyor) Frank Fletcher

In 1974 the Society was seeking a research project within easy travelling
distance of its membership and the enigmatic ‘Chapel’ placed by the
Ordnance Survey in a field at Moorhaigh Farm was, and has been proved to
be, a good choice.
The site had been noted in the general Meden Valley field survey but as it had
never been under the plough an excavation could be most propitious. The
farmer Mr. Holingsworth was not in good health and had grave concerns for
the security of his farm. It required a most tactful and professional approach
to gain his confidence and open up his land to our group. The work in 1974 was carried out
over 15 weeks and was successful in exposing the plan of a simple two cell
early medieval church.
It also became apparent that there was evidence of earlier stone footings on a differing alignment from the chapel. The team were further surprised by a substantial quantity of Romano-British pottery sherds and two Roman brooches.
Also within the sub-soil were two rim sherds of Bronze-age food vessel !
This scatter and other features visible on the surface prompted the team to return
the following year. In 1975 the trench which had yielded the R.B. pottery was
extended southwards and more pottery was recovered.
Some ten metres distant from the chance! end of the church a further stone
structure was found. This ‘building’ was totally excavated and was 6 metres
square, consisting of a low wall, possibly robbed to ground level, with a stone
flagged interior. In the centre of the floor was a deep fissure which was at the
time interpreted as a old water source. In the debris outside the walls were
found numerous stone roof tiles with a single perforation. It was assumed that
this roof had slowly decayed over time rather than collapsing at one time into
the interior. Leading from the hypothesis that the function of the structure
was the control of a water source the building has been referred to as a
sistern. Probably with a timber frame on sleeper walls with a stone tile roof.
The northern side of the floor and outer wall facing the church, showed much
signs of wear; this fact and the similarity of the stonework to that of the
church led the team to believe that the two structures were contemporary. It
was obvious that at some future date the whole site must be more thoroughly
examined and researched.
The excavation reports and full scale drawings of the work are filed at
Mansfield Museum, as are the boxed and labelled finds.

Two illustrations from the report

P.C.excav plan
P.C. F.F.drawing
moorhaigh 74

Early days on site 1974
cameraman--Jack Chapman