Monastic grange belonging to Rievaulx Abbey at Laskill Farm

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010340

Date first listed: 20-May-1963

Date of most recent amendment: 27-Oct-1994

Map

Ordnance survey map of Monastic grange belonging to Rievaulx Abbey at Laskill Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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Location

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

County: North Yorkshire

District: Ryedale (District Authority)

Parish: Hawnby

National Park: NORTH YORK MOORS

National Grid Reference: SE 56253 90738

Summary

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

Reasons for Designation

A monastic grange was a farm owned and run by a monastic community and independent of the secular manorial system of communal agriculture and servile labour. The function of granges was to provide food and raw materials for consumption within the parent monastic house itself, and also to provide surpluses for sale for profit. The first monastic granges appeared in the 12th century but they continued to be constructed and used until the Dissolution. This system of agriculture was pioneered by the Cistercian order but was soon imitated by other orders. Some granges were worked by resident lay-brothers (secular workers) of the order but others were staffed by non-resident labourers. The majority of granges practised a mixed economy but some were specialist in their function. Five types of grange are known: agrarian farms, bercaries (sheep farms), vaccaries (cattle ranches), horse studs and industrial complexes. A monastery might have more than one grange and the wealthiest houses had many. Frequently a grange was established on lands immediately adjacent to the monastery, this being known as the home grange. Other granges, however, could be found wherever the monastic site held lands. On occasion these could be located at some considerable distance from the parent monastery. Granges are broadly comparable with contemporary secular farms although the wealth of the parent house was frequently reflected in the size of the grange and the layout and architectural embellishment of the buildings. Additionally, because of their monastic connection, granges tend to be much better documented than their secular counterparts. No region was without monastic granges. The exact number of sites which originally existed is not precisely known but can be estimated, on the basis of numbers of monastic sites, at several thousand. Of these, however, only a small percentage can be accurately located on the ground today. Of this group of identifiable sites, continued intensive use of many has destroyed much of the evidence of archaeological remains. In view of the importance of granges to medieval rural and monastic life, all sites exhibiting good archaeological survival are identified as nationally important.

Although there is little visible above ground, this site contains well preserved remains in earthwork form as well as the buried remains of a major building. The buried column bases indicate that up to a metre of buried archaeological deposits extend over part of the site.

The grange was an important element in the landscape supporting and processing large scale sheep farming and offers important insights into the working of the medieval monastic economy.

History

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

Details

The monument is a medieval grange which has been identified as including a woolhouse belonging to Rievaulx Abbey, a large Cistercian house 5.5km to the south which was founded in AD 1131.

There are few remains showing above ground level and much of the site is under modern farm buildings and yards. The major building remains exposed in situ include a line of three plain, round column bases, each 0.96m in diameter. One of these lies within the floor of the north range of the farmyard buildings and the other two lie outside to the west where they are incorporated to a height of 1.5m in a modern terrace. Wall foundations discovered in 1949 indicate that these bases were for a row of three columns, forming a 4-bay vaulted undercroft internally about 18.3m by 8.8m, which supported a chamber above. There are many reused fragments of medieval masonry including cross and column pieces incorporated into the modern farm buildings. In the field to the west there are earthworks indicating the footings of enclosures and buildings extending over an area 22m by 35m.

The grange has been dated from architectural fragments reused in the modern farm to the 12th century. The large undercroft itself dates to c.1250. The grange was an impressive size, reflecting the prestige of the abbey with which it was associated. By 1275 it was processing the fleeces of over 14,000 sheep and was still flourishing in 1325 when Edward II is thought to have stayed at the site in the course of a hunting expedition. The grange was involved in the management and exploitation of the land for sheep ranching and, by demonstrating the status of its abbey, illustrates the impact of monasticism on the medieval landscape.

Excluded from the scheduling are all post-medieval farm buildings, the surfaces of the yards and drives, all fencing and modern walls, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 25558

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Black, D W, Pattison, I R, Houses of the North York Moors, (1977), 15
Mc Donnell, J, 'Ryedale Historian' in Thr Rievaulx Abbey Woolhouse remains at Laskill, (1989), 51-52
Mc Donnell, J, 'Ryedale Historian' in Thr Rievaulx Abbey Woolhouse remains at Laskill, (1989), 51-2

End of official listing