East Tanfield deserted medieval village


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
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Ordnance survey map of East Tanfield deserted medieval village
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Hambleton (District Authority)
East Tanfield
National Grid Reference:
SE 28886 77840

Reasons for Designation

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have gradually evolved during the last 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the Humber-Tees sub-Province of the Central Province which comprises a great fertile lowland, with many local variations caused by slight differences in terrain, but generally dominated by market towns, villages and hamlets. The dispersed farmsteads between these are mainly of post-medieval date, created by movement out of the villages and onto newly consolidated holdings following enclosure. Some, however, are more ancient disposals, the result of manors, granges and other farmsteads being moved out of villages in the Middle Ages; others have become isolated by the process of village depopulation, which has had a substantial impact in the sub-Province. The Vale of York local region is a rich agricultural lowland dominated by a dense pattern of villages and hamlets founded in the Middle Ages, about one in four of which have since been deserted. It contains low and very low densities of dispersed settlements, some of which are isolated medieval moated manor houses. The landscape was formerly dominated by communal townfields which were mainly enclosed in the 18th century.

The remains of the medieval settlement at East Tanfield survive well. Prominent earthworks of the village are preserved and its original form and development can be identified. Taken together, the surviving elements of the medieval village of East Tanfield offer important scope for understanding the history, development and ultimate decline of a community through the medieval period.


The monument includes the remains of the deserted medieval village of East Tanfield, including the earthwork remains of building platforms, associated yards and enclosures and tracks and hollow ways. The monument is located on a river terrace 400m north of the River Ure. The medieval village was concentrated on the east and west sides of a wide central street. The street is cut up to 3m below the ground level to the east and is thought to have been an earlier course of the River Ure. To the east of the street the village remains include the earthwork remains of broad rectangular platforms, known as tofts, the short ends of which front onto the street. At the front of the tofts are the remains of house foundations whilst to the rear is a large enclosure which would have been used for horticulture or stock rearing. To the rear of the tofts would have been a back lane which is now a metalled road. To the west and south west of the main street are further building remains and a series of large rectangular enclosures or yards defined by earthen banks. The medieval village would originally have lain at the centre of a wider agricultural landscape with open strip fields, woods, pasture and wider arable fields surrounding the village. However none of these features are known to survive. East Tanfield is one of the best documented of the medieval deserted villages in Yorkshire. Manorial and rental accounts survive from 1300 to 1500, showing the village to have been a prosperous community in the medieval period. However, between 1513 and 1517 eight houses were destroyed and, in common with other medieval settlements in England, the village became deserted. All fences, walls, gates and the telegraph poles 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.


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

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Beresford, M, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in The Lost Villages of Yorkshire Part IV, , Vol. VOL 38, (1954), 306


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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