Manfield shrunken medieval village and associated field system


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017802

Date first listed: 30-Jul-1986

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Oct-1997


Ordnance survey map of Manfield shrunken medieval village and associated field system
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Oct-2018 at 01:40:21.


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

County: North Yorkshire

District: Richmondshire (District Authority)

Parish: Manfield

National Grid Reference: NZ 21762 13451, NZ 21932 13434, NZ 21941 13607, NZ 21957 13176, NZ 22281 13049, NZ 22389 13443


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.

At Manfield, in addition to the main core of the settlement, two outlying moated sites also survive. Moated sites consist of wide ditches, often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands of dry land on which stood domestic or religious buildings. The majority of moated sites served as prestigious aristocratic or seigneurial residences with the provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical military defence. The peak period for the construction of moats was between about 1250 and 1350 but they were built throughout the medieval period and exhibit a high level of diversity in form and size. In addition to the medieval settlement, remains of the associated agricultural system also survive. The most common form of field system was known as ridge and furrow. This took the form of parallel rounded ridges separated by furrows which provided rich, well drained land for growing crops. Over large areas the system tended to adopt a characteristic `s' shape to accommodate the turning circle of a plough team. In small areas, where use of a plough team was impractical, ridge and furrow would be dug by hand. Fields near to a settlement tended to be operated using the open field strip system. Villagers worked strips of land distributed throughout the fields to ensure that each had an equal amount of the variable land quality available, the whole system being regulated by a complex system of rules enforced by the community as a whole. The medieval settlement at Manfield survives well. Prominent earthworks are preserved in fields in and around the village and the original form and development of the village core can be identified. The two moated sites are well preserved and offer important scope for understanding the nature of the moats themselves and the relationship with the wider medieval community. The associated field system is well preserved, particularly to the south of the village, and this holds important information about the form and management of the medieval agricultural practices. Taken together, the surviving elements of the medieval village of Manfield held important scope for understanding the history, development and ultimate decline of a successful community through the medieval period.


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


The monument includes the substantial earthwork remains of the medieval village of Manfield and associated ridge and furrow field systems. The monument is divided into six separate areas of protection. The medieval village was concentrated around a large irregular green, much of which still survives as an open space known as Town Green. Remains of the medieval settlement are visible as earthworks in the fields within and around the current village. Beyond the main settlement were enclosures and open strip fields, known as the town fields, which in turn gave way to woods, pasture and larger arable fields. Of these, remains of the ridge and furrow strip fields and enclosures close to the settlement survive as earthworks and are included in the scheduling. Also located within the town fields and included in the scheduling, are two medieval moated sites. The surviving earthworks and modern street patterns indicate that the medieval settlement formed three distinct areas. The first area is to the south of the green, in the field north west of the vicarage. Here are the remains of a series of square platforms and enclosures, formerly the site of medieval houses and stockyards. To the rear of these properties was a back lane still in use and now known as Bowling Green Lane. The second area surrounds the church and is characterised by irregularly laid out building platforms and enclosures. Here the surviving settlement earthworks lie in the fields immediately south and west of the church and in a separate field north of the church, adjacent to Abbey Villa. The earthworks display the layout of building platforms, connecting tracks and ditches. Also surviving are the footings of individual structures which can be identified on some of the building platforms. These two areas of medieval settlement were separated by a trackway extending southwards, again still in use as and now known as Grunton Lane. The third area of the medieval settlement lies to the north of the main street, and included in the scheduling are the field to the rear of the properties fronting Town Green and the field east of Abbey Villa. This part of the medieval settlement is substantially different to the other two. The earthworks in the western field demonstrate a regular layout of rectangular enclosures known as tofts and crofts which are typical of a planned medieval settlement. The tofts enclosed dwellings which would have fronted onto the green, with a narrow back lane separating them from the crofts to the rear in which domestic horticulture or stock keeping took place. A similar, though less regular pattern survives in the field to the north east of the church. A further element of the medieval settlement lies in the fields to the east and west of Manor Farm where two moated sites survive as earthworks. They are located slightly beyond the edge of the medieval settlement and lie within the medieval field system. The moats each comprise a ditch up to 3m wide surrounding a raised platform upon which would have stood a house. Moated sites were usually occupied by high status families, and at Manfield these moats are evidence of wealthy citizens moving to a more prestigious dwelling in a prominent location away from the main settlement. The medieval field system associated with Manfield would originally have surrounded the settlement. However, only parts now survive as earthworks: these being located to the south of the village and adjacent to the tofts and crofts to the north. Medieval agriculture is characterised by ridge and furrow field systems and a large complex of these survives as prominent earthworks in the fields to the east and south east of Manor Farm. Here there is a complex of broad swathes of ridge and furrow extending for up to 250m in length, with individual ridges being up to 10m wide and 2m high. There are separate blocks of ridge and furrow extending in different directions with intervening headlands, balks and tracks. In the fields to the west of Manor Farm, as well as to the south of the properties along Bowling Green Lane and in the field to the west of the village hall, are remains of further ridge and furrow, and also of large enclosures and terraces defined by earthen banks. Small areas of well defined ridge and furrow also survive adjacent to the tofts and crofts to the north. Manfield is first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. The plan of the village and the nature of the medieval earthworks indicate that the village originally comprised an irregular green to the west of the church, with settlement along the north side of what is now Bowling Green Lane and in the area to the south of the church. This open area was encroached upon in the medieval period and it is thought that the earthworks in the fields immediately south of the current main street are remains of this. The area of regular planned settlement north of the green may be a deliberate relocation of the village centre in the later medieval period. This shifting of villages, often only short distances, is a phenomenon known elsewhere in England in the medieval period. A document of 1301, known as the Lay Subsidy Roll, coupled with evidence for 13th and 14th century rebuilding of the church, the construction of the high status moats, and large and complex field systems, suggests that the village was a flourishing agricultural settlement in the 13th and early 14th centuries. This period of success may have led to a rise in population and subsequent encroachment onto the village green and to the development of the tofts and crofts to the north. However the population went into decline and much of the village became deserted, although is not known when or exactly why this occurred. It is likely that a combination of the Black Death in 1349, raids by the Scots in the 14th century and the enclosure of arable fields for sheep-rearing in the 15th and 16th centuries was responsible. All walls, fences, gates, sheds, drinking troughs, horse jumps, telegraph poles and stantions 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 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: 29502

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Grifiths, M, Associates, , Shrunken and Shifted Villages of the Lower Tees Valley, (1991)
White, R F, Manfield Village Archaeological Appraisal, (1984)
White, R F, Manfield Village Archaeological Appraisal, (1984)

End of official listing