Low Caythorpe deserted medieval village, manorial complex and fishponds


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013618

Date first listed: 14-Jan-1974

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Mar-1996


Ordnance survey map of Low Caythorpe deserted medieval village, manorial complex and fishponds
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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: Boynton

District: East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Rudston

National Grid Reference: TA 11710 67756, TA 12015 67802


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

Reasons for Designation

The village, comprising a small group of houses, gardens, yards, streets, paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community devoted primarily to agriculture, was a significant component of the rural landscape in most areas of medieval England, much as it is today. Villages provided some services to the local community and acted as the main focal point of ecclesiastical, and often of manorial, administration within each parish. Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were abandoned throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries. As a result over 2000 deserted medieval villages are recorded nationally. The reasons for desertion were varied but often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land use such as enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of widespread epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their abandonment these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits. Because they are a common and long-lived monument type in most parts of England, they provide important information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming economy between the regions and through time.

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England and consist of wide, water-filled ditches enclosing one or more islands of dry ground on which domestic or religious buildings stood. The peak period during which moated sites were built was between about 1250 and 1350, and although concentrated in central and eastern parts of England, are found scattered widely throughout England and exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. It is not unusual for them to be found in association with deserted medieval villages, the two together constituting an integral unit exemplifying the social structure and economic functioning of medieval England. Fishponds were relatively common in medieval times reflecting the importance of fish as a constant and sustainable food source, although few well preserved groups of ponds like that at Low Caythorpe survive. They were largely associated with the wealthy sectors of society and provide an insight into medieval fish farming and also the economy of the associated manorial complex. The medieval remains at Low Caythorpe survive in excellent condition and include a considerable proportion of the original features of the settlement, including crofts and house platforms along street lines, a moated manor house and its fishponds. Partial excavation has confirmed that the site has a long and complex history of occupation and development. Historical data also suggest the possibility that this was the site of a monastic grange. There are good historical data documenting the origin of the village from at least the time of the Norman Conquest until the eventual enclosure of the site in 1517 with the consequent eviction of existing tenants.


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


The monument includes the earthwork remains of the deserted medieval village and associated manorial complex of Low Caythorpe, situated to the south of the B1253, between the modern villages of Boynton and Rudston. It lies in two separate areas. The earthwork remains of the village include the remnants of house platforms, crofts, trackways and quarries, together with remains of original ridge and furrow field systems along the southern edge of the site. These demonstrate that the village had a main east-west alignment. A central trackway, which remains clearly visible as a hollow way, had a series of rectangular buildings immediately adjacent to it. Behind these buildings are the earthwork remains of some additional buildings and also the enclosures associated with each (the crofts). To the south and west of these, ridge and furrow earthworks demonstrate the position and layout of the fields associated with the village; these earthworks survive less well than those of the village settlement itself. To the immediate east of the main village earthworks a large rectangular moated and embanked enclosure approximately 77m square, now partly overlain by the modern farm complex, was the focus of the medieval manor of Low Caythorpe, which, together with associated fishponds, all survive as earthworks in very good condition. The fact that, for much of its history, the village of Low Caythorpe belonged to the estates of St Mary's, York, raises the possibility that this was the site of a moated monastic grange, although there is not sufficient evidence surviving to confirm this. The south east quadrant of this enclosure is occupied by a large complex of interlocking fishponds, of which around seven ponds of different size have been identified. To the north of the fishponds lie the earthwork remains of a series of buildings. These were partly excavated between 1962 and 1966 and proved to have a complex history. Here a building, originally constructed in the late Saxon period, was later rebuilt in stone in the 12th century, and again in the 14th century. Following another alteration, it was eventually abandoned in the 16th century. The village of Low Caythorpe is mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086 and for much of its history belonged to the estates of St Mary's, York. In 1296 there were around ten houses together with a watermill and a windmill. In 1513, the estate passed to the Constable family who erected a large house at the eastern end of the present-day farmyard, and it is to this period that the garden and fishpond complex are thought to date. In 1517, Sir Thomas Fairfax enforced enclosure, converting 300 acres of arable land to pasture, by evicting 20 residents and destroying five houses. After this time, it seems the village was depopulated and given over to pasture for sheep. Final enclosure took place in 1762. All modern post and wire fencing, animal feed dispensers, water pipes and troughs and modern farm buildings are excluded from the scheduling, 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 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number: 26512

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Dennison, E, Archaeological survey at Low Caythorpe, Rudston., (1990)
Coppack, G, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in Low Caythorpe, East Yorkshire - The Manor Site, , Vol. 46, (1974), 34-41
Application for a farm survey, Humberside Archaeology Unit, Low Caythorpe: farm presentation grant, (1990)
Application for a farm survey, Humberside Archaeology Unit, Low Caythorpe: farm presentation grant, (1990)
Bastow, M.E., AM107, (1987)
Bastow, M.E., AM107, (1989)
Coppack, G, AM7, (1973)
Humberside SMR, Sites and Monuments Records Sheet, (1994)

End of official listing