Warren including three pillow mounds at Smardale Demesne, 950m south west of Holme Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Warren including three pillow mounds at Smardale Demesne, 950m south west of Holme Farm
© 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.

Eden (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NY 73179 07111, NY 73436 07183, NY 73513 07303

Reasons for Designation

A warren is an area of land set aside for the breeding and management of rabbits or hares in order to provide a constant supply of fresh meat and skins. Although the hare is an indigenous species, the tradition of warren construction and use dates from the 12th century, following the introduction of rabbits into England from the continent. Warrens usually contain a number of purpose-built breeding places known as pillow mounds or rabbit buries, which were intended to centralise the colony and make catching the animals easier, whether using nets, ferrets or dogs. The mounds vary in design although rarely exceeding 0.7m in height. Earlier monuments such as burial mounds, boundary features and mottes were sometimes reused as breeding places. The mounds are usually surrounded by ditches and contain underlying channels or are situated on sloping ground to facilitate drainage. The interior of the mound may also contain nesting places constructed of stone slabs or cut into the underlying subsoil or bedrock. A typical warren may contain between one and forty pillow mounds or rabbit buries and occupy an area up to c.600ha. Many warrens were enclosed by a bank, hedge or wall intended to contain and protect the stock. Other features associated with the warren include vermin traps (usually a dead-fall mechanism within a small tunnel), and more rarely traps for the warren stock (known in Yorkshire as `types') which could contain the animals unharmed and allow for selective culling. Larger warrens might include living quarters for the warrener who kept charge of the site, sometimes surrounded by an enclosed garden and outbuildings. Early warrens were mostly associated with the higher levels of society; however, they gradually spread in popularity so that by the 16th and 17th centuries they were a common feature on most manors and estates throughout the country. Warrens continued in use until fairly recent times, finally declining in the face of 19th and 20th century changes in agricultural practice, and the onset of myxomatosis. Warrens are found in all parts of England, the earliest examples lying in the southern part of the country. Approximately 1,000 - 2,000 examples are known nationally with concentrations in upland areas, on heathland and in coastal zones. The profits from a successfully managed warren could, however, be considerable and many areas in lowland England were set aside for warrens at the expense of agricultural land. Although relatively common, warrens are important for their associations with other classes of monument, including various forms of settlement, deer parks, field systems and fishponds. They may also provide evidence of the economy of both secular and ecclesiastical estates. All well preserved medieval examples are considered worthy of protection. A sample of well preserved sites of later date will also merit protection.

The warren at Smardale Demesne survives well and is a good example of a small unenclosed type of this class of monument. Environmental evidence will be preserved upon the old landsurface beneath the pillow mounds and within the fills of the ditches surrounding the mounds.


The monument includes a small unenclosed medieval warren situated at Smardale Demesne 1km south west of Smardale Hall. The warren includes three pillow mounds, that is low oblong-shaped mounds of soil and stones in which hares or rabbits lived and were bred and managed for their fresh meat and fur. The southern pillow mound is located at NY73180711 on a north-facing hillslope and measures 14.5m by 4.5m and up to 0.3m high. It is surrounded by a shallow ditch 0.3m wide and has its long axis aligned north-south. The central pillow mound is located at NY73430718 on a WNW-facing hillslope and measures 11m by 8m and up to 0.8m high on its downslope western side. It is surrounded on all sides except the west by a shallow ditch 2.5m wide on the east side and 0.5m wide elsewhere, and has its long axis aligned down the hillslope. The northern pillow mound is located at NY73510730 on a south west-facing hillslope and measures 15m by 6m and up to 0.25m high. It is surrounded on all sides by a shallow ditch 0.5m wide and has its long axis aligned NNW-SSE. Although no documentary sources relating to the warren are known its location within an intake associated with the expansion of Smardale Demesne in the late 13th century is interpreted as indicating that the warren was associated with the medieval village of Smardale 1km to the north.

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:
Legacy System:


Dennison, E, Single Monument Class Description - Warrens, (1988)
Dennison,E., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Warrens, (1988)


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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