Potlock Cursus, Willington, Derbyshire

Cursus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SK 314 287 to SK 321 289

Also known as:

  1. Findern Cursus
  2. Findern-Willington Cursus
  3. Potlocks Cursus
  4. Twyford Cursus

Archaeology & History

Destroyed by the usual mixture of intensive farming practices and the self-righteous advance of industrialism, this cursus of many names was discovered thanks to aerial survey photographs taken in the early 1960s.  Found only 6½ miles west of the Aston Cursus and constructed on level ground on the north side of the River Trent next to B5009 road between Twyford village and Willington.  I think the site was first described by J.K. St. Joseph (1966) in his notes on air reconnaissance finds, in which he described the site,

“So far the parallel ditches, some 220ft apart, defining the cursus have been identified on an east to west alignment across three fields for a length of some 1800ft.  This may well be only fraction of the total length of the monument, which probably extended westwards towards the new power station at Willington.  Three ring-ditches, one lying within the cursus, and two to the north, as well as a rectangular enclosure, have also been recorded.”

There was probably more to be discovered here, he thought.  And so the following year the first dig into one section of the site was made, and again in 1969.  A synopsis of this and subsequent excavation work have been reported on the PastScape website which tells:

“The cursus has been traced for a distance of at least 1560 metres, lying near the edge of the flood-plain of the Trent. Excavations in 1994-5 in advance of work on a bypass recovered Peterborough Ware sherds close to the bottom of the southern cursus ditch. Charred organic remains were also present, from which radiocarbon dates are to be sought. The excavations also uncovered a causeway between 10.5 and 19 metres in length through the northern ditch. Within this causeway were a cluster of short linear features and a post hole, all presumably evidence for controlling access into the monument. Another break in the northern ditch was shown to have been created to accommodate the course of a stream, which still runs through it. The 1994-5 excavations also confirmed that the 1969 excavations had in fact found a series of natural features which were mistakenly interpreted as representing the cursus ditches… At the south-western limit of the cursus cropmarks the southern ditch appears to have been recut and possibly reused at a later stage as a double ditched trackway…”


  1. St. Joseph, J.K., “Air Reconnaissance: Recent Result, 6,” in Antiquity journal, volume 40, no.157, March 1966.
  2. Wheeler, Hazel, “The Findern Cursus,” in Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, volume 90, 1970.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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