Medieval settlement and early post-medieval garden earthworks around Barlow Hall


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


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

North Yorkshire
Selby (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 64303 29022, SE 64582 28918

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.

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. Many early houses had gardens associated with them, and the major development in gardening took place in the late medieval and early post-medieval periods when the idea of the garden as a `pleasure ground' developed. Early gardens take a variety of forms. Some involved significant water-management works to create elaborate water-gardens which could include a series of ponds and even ornamental canal systems. At other sites flower gardens were favoured, with planting in elaborately shaped and often geometrically laid out beds. Planting arrangements were often complemented with urns, statues and other garden furniture. Such sites were often provided with raised walkways or prospect mounds to provide vantage points from which the garden layout could be seen and fully appreciated. Whilst gardens were probably a common accompaniment to high status houses of the late medieval to early post-medieval period, continued occupation and subsequent remodelling of gardens in response to changing fashions means that early garden designs rarely survive undisturbed. Gardens provide a valuable insight into contemporary aesthetics and views about how the landscape could be modified to enhance the surroundings. Their design often mirrors elements of the design of the associated house, particularly following the symmetry of the buildings. In view of their rarity, great variety of form, and importance for understanding high status houses and their occupants, all surviving examples of an early date will be identified to be of national importance. The earthworks of the Elizabethan gardens at Barlow are very well preserved, retaining a wide range of features with a large number of different types of pond, taking advantage of the low lying nature of the land. The survival of earthworks of part of the earlier medieval settlement of Barlow, which is believed to have been shifted to make way for the gardens, adds additional importance to the monument. Buried deposits, especially rubbish pits, will provide valuable information about the life and economy of the medieval village.


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of part of the medieval settlement of Barlow to the north of the present Barlow Hall farmhouse, together with the earthworks of the gardens. These were constructed for the 16th century Barlow Hall, which extended to the north, south and west of the modern farmhouse. The monument is divided into two areas of protection. Barlow was recorded as Berlai in the Domesday Book and was at that time part of the same manor as Drax to the south east, lying within the Wapentake (medieval administrative area) of Barkston Ash. The manor is thought to have been held by the de Berley family, to which several medieval references are known. These include a deed of land transfer in Drax from Henry de Berley in c.1205, the temporary forfeiture of the manor to the crown in 1323 (following Richard de Berely's part in a rebellion against Edward II) and a further land transfer within Berley in 1380. The settlement was assessed for 40 shillings for the 1334 Lay Subsidy (the same amount of tax as Tadcaster and four shillings higher than the average for the Wapentake). By the 16th century the manor was in the hands of the Twisleton family who built the Elizabethan hall, the chapel opposite and laid out the surrounding gardens. In 1629 George Twisleton was made a baronet but died without an heir. The manor then passed to the Thompsons by marriage, who held it into the 19th century. Running roughly parallel with, and about 35m to the south of Marsh Lane, is a depression marking a former village street. Either side of this depression there are a number of tofts, plots for houses and associated out buildings, separated from each other by slight changes in ground level or by banks or depressions marking boundaries. Each toft contains at least one slightly raised area, typically 6m-8m across, marking the location of a medieval peasant's house. At the west end of the trackway there is an 18m by 14m area surrounded by a low bank. The position and design of this small enclosure is consistent with that of a pinfold, or animal pound. To the west of this pound there is further evidence of early farming practices with a section of broad, flat topped ridge and furrow with 14m wide ridges flanked by 6m wide depressions orientated north-south. To the south of the east end of the trackway, just north of a still maintained but meandering drain, there is a rectangular depression about 0.4m deep. This is identified as the silted remains of a medieval pond, with a second such pond 40m to the west. To the south of these ponds there are the much more substantial earthworks of the Elizabethan gardens. To the east of the Barlow Hall farmhouse, which was built in the 1980s, there is an irregular star shaped depression 30m-40m across which shows a number of similarities to duck decoy ponds, which are artificial ponds designed to attract wildfowl and aid their capture. To the west of the modern farm house, cutting through earlier ridge and furrow, there is a `T' shaped depression 0.4m deep with a small island at its northern end, at the crossing of the `T'. This is a more formal ornamental pond which has a ramped walkway ending at a 1.5m high prospect mound on its western side. A second raised walkway lies just to the north which runs eastwards leading to the western side of the star shaped pond. North of the `T' shaped pond, to the north of the walkway, there is a rectangular area with a further bank on its north side which is considered to be a small sunken garden. On the south side of Barlow Hall farmyard there are further garden features. One of these is an ornamental canal, typical of early post-medieval gardens. It is about 110m long, 8m wide and 1.2m deep with brick revetments, slightly raised banks on either side and a semicircular bay midway on its west side. At its south end, it is linked by a broader, flat bottomed ditch which runs eastwards to a 10m wide, 1m deep ditch which extends northwards, curving eastwards. To the east of this, running parallel with and approximately 35m west of the road, there is a slight, narrow ditch which is considered to be a shallow ha-ha, a particular design of boundary often used in gardens. The site of the Elizabethan hall, demolished in the early 1970s to make way for a small bungalow, lies just to the east of this boundary. The foundations of the hall are considered to survive under and around this modern house and are included in the scheduling. The brick boundary wall next to the road has been patched in modern times, but is considered to be mainly part of the original garden boundary and is thus also included in the scheduling. Further garden earthworks survive to the east of the road, mainly to the south and east of the church. These include broad walkways and ramps together with depressions of further ponds and garden areas all surviving as earthworks up to 0.5m high. The church, which was also built by the Twisletons, would have also been part of the overall design of the gardens. However, this is still in ecclesiastical use and is thus not included in the scheduling. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the modern bungalow, all modern fences and walls, all stiles, gates and telegraph poles, and all water troughs and the platforms that they stand, although the ground beneath all these features 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Morrell, W, The History of Selby, (1867), 320-3
SMR, 9343,


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.

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