Kirby Grindalythe medieval settlement earthworks immediately south west of St Andrew's Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017069

Date first listed: 21-Jul-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 14-Dec-1999


Ordnance survey map of Kirby Grindalythe medieval settlement earthworks immediately south west of St Andrew's Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Ryedale (District Authority)

Parish: Kirby Grindalythe

National Grid Reference: SE 90295 67455


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

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. The Yorkshire Wolds local region is a soft, rolling, chalk landscape with deep valleys. Dispersed farmsteads, usually impressive creations of the late 18th and 19th centuries, are present in small numbers. The earlier pattern of medieval nucleated settlements - villages and hamlets - still dominates the archaeological landscape as either deserted settlement sites or sites still occupied by rural communities.

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, generally sited at the centre of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but where they survive as earthworks, their most distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and paddocks. They frequently included the parish church within their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system, most villages included one or more manorial centres which may also survive as visible remains as well as below ground deposits. In the Central Province of England, villages were the most distinctive aspect of medieval life, and their archaeological remains are one of the most important sources of understanding about rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest. The earthworks and buried remains to the south west of Kirby Grindalythe church lie adjacent to the most important settlement focus in the parish and will complement other medieval settlement remains within the valley. They will retain some of the earliest evidence of habitation in the village along with later remains which will provide valuable insights into the evolution of Kirby Grindalythe through the medieval and post-medieval periods. The identification of features shown on the 1755 enclosure map adds further interest to the monument.


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


The monument includes buried and earthwork remains of that part of the medieval settlement of Kirby Grindalythe which lies adjacent and to the south west of the parish church of St Andrew. The earliest evidence for settlement in the village is provided by the five fragments of 9th and 10th century Anglian and Anglo-Scandinavian carved stone crosses found in the 19th century and built into the internal wall faces of the church tower. The Domesday Book of 1087 records that the land holding in Kirby Grindalythe was simplified after the Norman Conquest when the manors of Ketilbjorn, which included parts of Thirkleby and Low Mowthorpe, and Thorfinnr both passed to Count Robert Mortain, the half brother of William the Conqueror. The much smaller land holding belonging to Uglubarthr passed to the king. In 1293-4 Geoffrey Aguyllun is recorded as holding the manor in Kirby Grindalythe with rights to small game hunting. Only four people were listed for the 1297 Lay Subsidy, a tax levied on people with assets in excess of 9 shillings. The settlement as a whole was taxed 38 shillings for the 1334 Lay Subsidy which was slightly higher than the average for the area. In 1311 the church, along with some land in the parish, was granted to the Augustinian priory at Kirkham. This holding, which was increased by subsequent gifts, passed into the hands of the Crown in 1539 at the Dissolution of the Monasteries and was granted in part to Richard Foster in 1606. Surviving legal documents from the 17th and 18th centuries chart changes in ownership of not just the manor, but of other properties in the village and the neighbouring townships of Duggleby, Mowthorpe and Thirkleby. In 1755 the medieval style open fields of Kirby Grindalythe and the neighbouring township of Mowthorpe were enclosed and the land ownership was rationalised by agreement. The enclosure map shows that in 1755 the area of the monument was in at least three separate ownerships and was amalgamated into a single land holding. There are few sources of water on the free draining chalk of the Yorkshire Wolds. As a result the Gypsey Race has long acted as a focus for settlement and in the medieval period there was a continuous string of settlements along the course of the stream, many of which have since then contracted to a single farm or have been abandoned entirely. Kirby Grindalythe was and still is the main settlement in the upper part of the Gypsey Race valley, the site of the church and centre of the parish. It is thought that the village was originally centred on the parish church and the manor house to its east. The area of the monument includes the part of the settlement to the west of the church which is thought to have been abandoned in stages from the late medieval period onwards. All of the features within the area of the monument shown on the 1755 enclosure map can be identified as earthworks. A trackway or lane runs south eastwards from where Low Road bends south west, down the hill to the Gypsey Race, the stream in the base of the valley. Two trackways lead off this lane. The first can be seen as a ramp that heads ENE towards the south door of the church and is now blocked by the churchyard wall. The second trackway is a bit further downhill and runs south westwards a short distance before opening up into a broader area 20m wide and 40m long shown as a yard on the 1755 map. The map shows three rectangular buildings in this yard, one on the north side, one to the south and one on the south side of the entrance to the yard. These were shown as `old foundations' on the 1890 Ordnance Survey map and still survive as earthworks. The northern building appears to have been 10m by 6m with a doorway in its southern wall and two further bays open to the south extending 5m and then 8m from the east wall. It is built into the base of a small chalk quarry at the foot of a steep slope. The earthworks of the southern building are 26m by 7m with opposed entrances 2m wide midway along its length. At the east end of this there is a raised platform some 12m by 15m which incorporates stone wall footings and is the site of the third building shown on the 1755 map. Opposite this, on the north side of the entrance to the yard, there are the earthworks of a 5m by 8m building which was not depicted in 1755 and is thought to have been demolished by this time. The yard and the buildings are thought to have been owned by Robert Snowball who was one of the eight owners involved in the enclosure and the only one listed as a yeoman, a small owner farmer, rather than as a gentleman or member of the clergy. A small area to the west was noted as Snowball's Garth and two thirds of the area between the yard and the modern road to the north as Snowball's Backyard. The remainder of this area, adjacent to the modern road and the top end of the lane, is still defined by a low earthwork bank and was labelled as Lane Head Garth. Opposite this, defined by the track to the church, the lane, modern road, and churchyard wall was H Webster's Garth. To the south of the two trackways leading off either side of the lane and extending to the stream were two further areas both labelled as Elliot's Garth. None of these areas retained buildings in 1755, although surviving earthworks show that there were earlier buildings, medieval in style, on both sides of the lane. The clearest earthworks lie in Webster's Garth, which appears to have been originally divided into two properties. Immediately north of the track to the church, fronting onto the lane, there are the low earthworks of a two roomed 12m by 5m building, with a main room 8m long at the northern uphill end. This is identified as a peasant longhouse. At right angles to this, on the north side of the small level area to the rear of the longhouse there are the earthworks of an outbuilding 8m by 5m which was also divided into two cells. Fronting onto the lane in the northern half of Webster's Garth there are the remains of a second longhouse with a third opposite in Lane Head Garth. To the south of this, in the eastern part of Snowball's Backyard, the hillside has been quarried back for chalk. Further earthworks of small buildings can be identified either side of the southern end of the lane and additional buried remains, such as rubbish and storage pits, retaining evidence of earlier phases of settlement are considered to survive throughout the area of the monument.

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: 32640

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Lang, J , Corpus of Anglo Saxon Stone Sculpture, (1990), 150-52
Offprints, N Yorkshire SMR, Kirby Grindalythe parish file,
Title: Kirby Gindalythe and Mowthorpe Enclosure Plan Source Date: 1755 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Ref P12098

End of official listing