Uckerby medieval village and open field system


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017691

Date first listed: 23-Feb-1978

Date of most recent amendment: 29-Apr-1998


Ordnance survey map of Uckerby medieval village and open field system
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This copy shows the entry on 10-Dec-2018 at 22:00:56.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Richmondshire (District Authority)

Parish: Uckerby

National Grid Reference: NZ 24494 02226, NZ 24622 02401


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 past 1500 years or more. The Yorkshire Dales local region is broadly an extension of the lowlands into the hill mass of the Pennines, but increasing environmental constraints have ensured that each dale has developed particular and often wholly local characteristics. The villages and hamlets on the valley side terraces of the lower and middle dales appear to be of medieval foundation, while the surrounding farmstead sites vary greatly in date, from early medieval to 19th century.

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but when 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 small enclosed 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. Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into strips (known as lands) which were allocated to individual tenants. The cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs pulled by oxen teams produced long, wide ridges, and the resultant "ridge and furrow" where it survives is the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Indivdual strips or lands were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal headlands at the plough turning-points and lateral grass balks. Furlongs were in turn grouped into the large open fields. Well-preserved ridge and furrow, especially in its original context adjacent to village earthworks, is both an important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive contribution to the character of the historic landscape. It is usually now covered by the hedges or walls of subsequent field enclosure. The remains of the medieval settlement at Uckerby survive well. Prominent earthworks of the village are preserved and its original form and development can be identified. The fishponds are also well preserved and offer important scope for understanding the nature of their use and the relationship with the wider medieval community. The associated field system survives well and important information about the form and management of medieval agricultural practices is preserved. Taken together the surviving elements of the medieval village of Uckerby offer important scope for understanding the history, development and ultimate decline of a community through the medieval period.


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


The monument includes the remains of the medieval village of Uckerby and a section of the surrounding field system. It is divided into two separate areas and located on a low hill with the main settlement remains occupying the top of the hill and terraces cut into the slope. Further remains lie to the east, beyond the modern road. The medieval village was concentrated on either side of a wide central street. The outline of this street still survives as a broad lane 20m wide running west to east through the site. A metalled track now runs along one side of it. To the south of the street the village remains include a series of broad rectangular enclosures, the short ends of which front onto the street. These enclosures, known as tofts, were occupied by a house fronting onto the street with the rear of the toft used for horticulture or stock keeping. The tofts are up to 40m wide and 60m deep and occupy terraces on the crest of the hill and also extend and are cut into the slope down to the east. To the rear of the tofts, a trackway 4m wide and 2m in depth formed a back lane. This lane extends into the field to the south west where further tofts lie to the south. To the south and south west of the tofts are a series of large enclosures or yards defined by earthen banks up to 2m wide and 1m high. In the field to the north of the medieval street there is a series of tofts located on regular terraces cut into the slope. Further enclosures are alos located to the north and west of these tofts. In the field at the bottom of the slope to the east of the main settlement are a series of earthworks. These take the form of large depressions, building platforms, trackways and leats. It is thought that some of these features may be former fishponds associated with the village. Extensive remains of the medieval field system are preserved as prominent earthworks and lie to the south and north of the village and to the north of the fishponds. Medieval agriculture is characterised by ridge and furrow which here survives in broad swathes up to 150m in length with the ridges being up to 6m wide and 1m high. There are separate blocks of ridge and furrow extending in different directions with intervening headlands, balks and trackways. Little is known of the history of Uckerby. It is first recorded in documents in 1301. The size and type of the village suggests that it was a flourishing agricultural settlement in the 13th and 14th centuries. However, in common with other medieval settlements in England the bulk of the village became deserted, probably after the Black Death in 1349 and in connection with raids by the Scots in the 14th century and the enclosure of land for sheep rearing in the 15th and 16th centuries. The building known as Uckerby Grange at the west of the medieval street represents the only continuous occupation since the medieval period. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling, comprising all fences, walls, gates, the ruined barn in the eastern field, the telegraph poles, the brick water tank near the main road and the surfaces of all roads, paths and tracks, although the ground beneath these features is included. Uckerby House, its driveway and immediate gardens are totally excluded from the scheduling.

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: 29503

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Grifiths, M, Associates, , Shrunken and Shifted Villages of the Lower Tees Valley, (1991)
Grifiths, M, Associates, , Shrunken and Shifted Villages of the Lower Tees Valley, (1991)

End of official listing