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.

Pleasley Chapel

/ Moorhaigh

1974 -75

P.C.excav plan P.C. F.F.drawing


Two illustrations from the report

moorhaigh 74

Early days on site 1974

cameraman--Jack Chapman