Site of Nunburnholme Priory


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011897

Date first listed: 06-Mar-1953

Date of most recent amendment: 25-Jan-1993


Ordnance survey map of Site of Nunburnholme Priory
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Nunburnholme

National Grid Reference: SE 85316 48307


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

Reasons for Designation

A nunnery was a settlement built to sustain a community of religious women. Its main buildings were constructed to provide facilities for worship, accommodation and subsistence. The main elements are the church and domestic buildings arranged around a cloister. This central enclosure may be accompanied by an outer court and gatehouse, the whole bounded by a precinct wall, earthworks or moat. Outside the enclosure, fishponds, mills, field systems, stock enclosures and barns may occur. The earliest English nunneries were founded in the seventh century AD but most of these had fallen out of use by the ninth century. A small number of these were later refounded. The tenth century witnessed the foundation of some new houses but the majority of medieval nunneries were established from the late 11th century onwards. Nunneries were established by most of the major religious orders of the time, including the Benedictines, Cistercians, Augustinians, Franciscans and Dominicans. It is known from documentary sources that at least 153 nunneries existed in England, of which the precise locations of only around 100 sites are known. Few sites have been examined in detail and as a rare and poorly understood medieval monument type all examples exhibiting survival of archaeological remains are worthy of protection.

Despite limited damage from the construction and use of Manor Farm, and limited excavation, the monument survives well as a series of earthwork remains. It will retain evidence of the buildings which formerly occupied the precinct, and the fishponds and other water-management features will retain environmental and archaeological remains in the silts which have accumulated in them.


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


The monument includes the remains of the Benedictine Priory of Saint Mary located next to the Nunburnholme Beck. Extensive earthworks are visible across the whole of the site. These include several embanked islands on which the principal buildings of the priory would have been located. Adjacent to these is a wide complex of water-management features and, to the north of Manor Farm, a group of well preserved but now dry fishponds. These various water-management features are fed and drained by two streams, Nunburnholme Beck to the west and an unnamed stream to the east - the courses of both of these streams are partly engineered and embanked where they run through the monument. The priory was founded in the reign of Henry II, before 1262, and was dissolved in 1536, when a prioress and five nuns were living there. By the end of the nineteenth century the priory survived only as earthworks and in 1905 it was partially excavated by the antiquarian M C F Morris. Morris investigated the south western portion of the site in which he found a number of stone foundations. It was not clear from these excavations which priory buildings had been located and hence little is as yet known about the actual buildings and their layout. It is not certain that all the the remains uncovered were of medieval date as the discovery of quantities of Romano-British pottery and a coin of the Emperor Caracalla suggest that the monastic site may overlie earlier structures. Other Roman coins have subsequently been found at the site. The farm buildings and estate road within the monument are excluded from the scheduling, though the ground beneath them is included.

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: 21121

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Bulmer, T, History and Directory of East Yorkshire, (1892), 687
Kitson Clark, M, Gazetteer of Roman Remains in East Yorkshire, (1935), 118
Knowles, D , Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, (1971), 254-262
Midmer, R, English Medieval Monasteries 1066-1540, (1979), 100
Morris, J E, The East Riding of Yorkshire, (1932), 279
Morris M C F, , Nunburnholme, its History and Antiquities, (1907), 149-178
Ramm, H, The Parisi, (1978), 100
Sheahan, , Whellan, , History and Topography of York And The East Riding, (1856), 563
'Yorks. Weekly Post' in Yorkshire Weekly Post, (1906), 16
'Yorks. Arch. J.' in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal : Volume 16, , Vol. 16, (1902), 273
'Yorks Arch. Journal' in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal: Volume 38, , Vol. 38, (1955), 258
Dugdale, , 'Monasticon' in Monasticon (Volume IV), , Vol. IV, (), 279
Morris, M C F, 'The Antiquary' in The Antiquary (Volume 42), , Vol. 43, (1906), 155-156
3962, Humberside County Council 3962,
3962, Humberside SMR 3962,
56/34 - 56/37, Crawshaw, North Yorks. County Council 56/34 - 56/37,
AJC 037/12 -14, Crawshaw, North Yorks. County Council AJC 037/12 - 14,
AJC 037/18 - 20, Crawshaw, North Yorks. County Council AJC 037/18 - 20,
CUC JZ 40-41, CUC JZ 40-41,
CUC RW 07 - 11, CUC RW 07 - 11,
OS 71/138/277-8, OS 71/138/277-8, (1971)

End of official listing