Kilgram medieval monastic grange


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015993

Date first listed: 13-Jan-1989

Date of most recent amendment: 29-Apr-1998


Ordnance survey map of Kilgram medieval monastic grange
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Richmondshire (District Authority)

Parish: East Witton

National Grid Reference: SE 19252 85687


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.

The remains of the grange at Kilgram survive well and significant evidence of the outer buildings and structures within the precinct are likely to survive. The grange was one of the primary granges of the mother house at Jervaulx and as such played an important role in the economy and development of the abbey. The remains at Kilgram will provide important information about the form and function of granges and their role in the wider economic landscape of a major monastic house in Yorkshire.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the medieval monastic grange at Kilgram. The monument is located on a bend of the River Ure in lower Wensleydale 2km east of the ruined abbey of Jervaulx. The remains at Kilgram mainly represent the agricultural elements of the grange and it is thought that the site of most of the principal buildings of the grange lie beneath the modern farmhouse. The farmhouse and part of the monument occupy a raised river terrace which is defined by a steep slope to the north with a more gradual gradient on the other sides. This raised area is thought to be the location of the precinct, an enclosed area which contained the core buildings of the grange, including the chapel and domestic quarters and sometimes associated stores, workshops and other ancillary structures. Slight earthworks to the east of the farmhouse represent the remains of some of these buildings and further remains may survive as buried features. Excavations at similar grange sites in Yorkshire have revealed substantial timber-framed buildings on cobbled footings within the precinct. A wide hollow way which curves eastward around the south of the raised ground marks the outer extent of the precinct at the south. Beyond the precinct, the surviving earthworks include a series of banks, ditches, irrigation channels and trackways defining a system of enclosures. Some of these enclosures contain blocks of ridge and furrow, the characteristic form of medieval arable cultivation. Other enclosures would have been used for stock husbandry. At the east of the monument are a series of rectangular depressions which have been interpreted as fishponds, used for the cultivation of fish for food. In common with other granges in England there would have been agricultural buildings associated with the various functions of the grange distributed throughout the area. The substantial banks defining the enclosures would also have served as a form of flood control protecting the low lying land from the nearby river. Kilgram Grange was one of a group of monastic granges held by nearby Jervaulx Abbey. With its close proximity to Jervaulx, Kilgram may have served as one of the home granges which provided produce for the immediate use of the abbey. Unlike the more distant granges on the high ground, which were often devoted to specific functions such as sheep or horse rearing, Kilgram with its location on the fertile valley floor was likely to be centre of agrarian production. Kilgram probably dates to the early years of Jervaulx and remained in use right up to the dissolution in 1539. The edge of the monument at the north and east sides follows the inside edge of the flood bank which extends along the edge of the river bank. All fences, gates, telegraph poles and the surface of the track are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath 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.


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

Legacy System number: 29516

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Coppack, G, Abbeys and Priories, (1990), 120-128
Coppack, G, Fountains Abbey, (1993), 78-98
Platt, C, The Monastic Grange in Medieval England, (1969), 212
Moorhouse, S, 'The Archaeology of Rural Monasteries' in Monastic Estates their Composition and Development, , Vol. BAR 203, (1989), 29-83

End of official listing