Medieval settlement at Thornton-le-Street


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement at Thornton-le-Street
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Oct-2019 at 22:36:55.


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

North Yorkshire
Hambleton (District Authority)
North Kilvington
North Yorkshire
Hambleton (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 41199 86493

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 Cleveland Bench local region is a slightly elevated, undulating lowland skirting the northern and western sides of the North York Moors. Settlement is largely in the form of nucleated villages which were established in the Middle Ages, and which bear traces of their original rectilinear planning. Shrunken and deserted villages are common, now often marked only by an isolated, still occupied, hall.

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 survive also as visible remains as well as below ground deposits. In the central province of England, villages were the most distinctive aspect of rural 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 landes) 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. Individual strips or landes 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 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 contibution to the character of the historic landscape. It is usually now covered by the hedges or walls of subsequent field enclosure. In addition to the open fields villages often supported other agricultural activities such as fishponds. These were artificial pools of slow moving water in which fish were bred and stored in order to provide a constant supply of fresh fish for consumption and trade. Remains of the medieval village of Thornton-le-Street survive well and significant evidence of the domestic and economic development of the settlement will be preserved.


The monument includes earthwork and buried remains of the medieval village of Thornton-le-Street. Also included are some of the remains of the post-medieval mill. The settlement existed in the 11th century when it was mentioned in the Domesday Survey. It went into decline in the 15th century, although it was not wholly abandoned, with a small number of houses surviving, clustered around the church to the south east of the monument. The village earthworks occupy gradually sloping land leading to a bluff above a bend in the Cod Beck. They are dominated by a broad causeway extending south east to north west through the centre of the field. This has in the past been interpreted as a Roman road, but is now considered to be a post-medieval track running along the former village main street to provide a firm, dry and impressive entrance to the house known as Old Hall. The medieval village street marked by the causeway forms a wide main route way extending north west to south east through the centre of the village. West of this street are an irregular series of house platforms, some fronting onto the street, with associated enclosures and yards. To the east of the street are the remains of further enclosures beyond which are fields where evidence of medieval agriculture survives in the form of ridge and furrow earthworks. To the south east of the medieval settlement remains are a series of prominent earthen banks extending south west to north east and forming large fields containing a number of building platforms. This area of earthworks also extends beneath the gardens of the house known as The Pines. In the field to the west of Old Hall are further earthwork remains of ridge and furrow and associated field banks. To the south west of the medieval village street are the remains of a fishpond surviving as a substantial rectangular hollow 8m wide and 35m in length and orientated north east to south west. The west end of the fishpond is linked to two channels, one extending south westwards the other north westwards, which were used to manage the flow of water in the pond. On the eastern side of the monument, adjacent to the Cod Beck, are the remains of the mill and associated earthworks. The mill building still survives as roofed building, is Listed Grade II and is not included in the scheduling. The associated mill remains include, to the north of the mill, a mill pond which provided a head of water, the canalised mill race and, south of the mill, a tail race leading water back to the stream. There is a prominent embankment forming the east (stream) side of the mill race. All these features are included in the scheduling. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the bungalow known as The Pines and its driveway and patio, all fences, gates, feeding troughs, telegraph poles, the old mill and attached house, the ruined farm buildings to the south west of the mill, the water and pipework chambers and inspection hatches north of the mill. The ground beneath these features is, however, 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.

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Books and journals
Beresford, M, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in The Lost Villages of Yorkshire Part IV, , Vol. VOL 38, (1954), 309
AP held at SMR,


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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