Cawthorne medieval settlement remains 150m north east of West Cawthorne


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018951

Date first listed: 07-Jul-1999


Ordnance survey map of Cawthorne medieval settlement remains 150m north east of West Cawthorne
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Ryedale (District Authority)

Parish: Cropton

National Grid Reference: SE 77479 89200


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. This monument lies in the East Yorkshire sub-Province of the Central Province, an area characterised by marked local terrain variations: from the North York Moors, to the Tabular Hills and Howardian Hills, to the Vale of Pickering and the chalk Wolds, to the Hull Valley and the silt lands of the Humber and Holderness. The sub-Province has the relatively low density of dispersed settlements which marks the Central Province, but this uniformity masks strong settlement contrasts. Some regions were typified by low density dispersed settlement in the Middle Ages, whereas others have achieved a similar pattern through extensive depopulation of medieval villages. The Tabular Hills local region is a limestone plateau on the southern fringe of the North York Moors. Where it dips beneath the younger, softer deposits of the Vale of Pickering, varied soils and assured water supplies have encouraged a distinctive chain of villages and hamlets along the break of slope. Nevertheless nucleations are also found high on the plateau and in the deep valleys between the moors and the limestone.

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. 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. The medieval settlement remains at Cawthorne are an example of a small village sited to exploit a natural water source. Its importance is heightened by its proximity to the earlier Anglian settlement at Cawthorne Roman camps.


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


The monument includes buried and earthwork remains of the medieval settlement of Cawthorne, originally one of the townships of Middleton parish, located between, and to the north of the surviving farms of West and East Cawthorne. The Domesday Book recorded that Gospatric, son of Arnketill held the manor at Cawthorne in 1066 along with the manor of neighbouring Cropton and that these two manors included woods three leagues long and a league wide. Gospatric had been held hostage by William I when his father had been involved in the 1069 rising and by 1086 Cawthorne was one of those lands he held from the king, the last member of the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy to be a tenant-in-chief in Yorkshire. In c.1106 Cawthorne was transferred to Robert de Brus by Henry I as part of a larger landholding known as the Brus Fee. From at least the 13th century, Cawthorne was part of the manor of Cropton in the honour of Rosedale, held by the Stuteville family. Sometime after 1220 and before his death in 1241, Eustace de Stuteville gave land in Cawthorne to St Peter's Hospital in York. Cawthorne then passed to Thomas le Wake and was mentioned as being part of the Wake Fee in 1284-85. The township is little mentioned until 1578 when it was still part of the manor of Cropton. The following year the manor of Cawthorne, the first time since the Domesday Book that an independent manor had been referred to, was conveyed to Sir William Fairfax. This manor then passed through at least seven ownerships by sale or marriage over the subsequent 70 years. Archaeological work on Cawthorne Roman camps, which lie in a defensive position 1km to the north east at the top of a scarp, has suggested that one of the camps was re-used in the post-Roman Dark Ages for an Anglian settlement. Sometime later this settlement is thought to have shifted to Cawthorne to take advantage of a natural watercourse of linked ponds, one of which lies in the south eastern corner of the monument, in the angle of Cawthorne Lane and the track to West Cawthorne Farm. This pond is approximately 50m by 20m and will contain valuable environmental information about the medieval settlement within its silt. The surviving earthworks of the medieval settlement extend up hill to the west of the pond and include an enclosure defined by a substantial ditch and beyond this, a large building platform terraced into the rising ground further to the west. Most of the enclosure is relatively level and is approximately 90m north-south and between 40m and 50m wide. To the north and west it is defined by a broad, flat bottomed ditch which is also thought to have acted as a trackway as it is joined from the north east by a track, now blocked by the hedge line, leading off Cawthorne Lane. The west side of this trackway is defined by the remains of a wall line or stony bank which is also included within the scheduling. The base of the ditch around the enclosure is typically 0.75m below the surface of the enclosure, but up to 2.5m below the rising ground to the west, and is between 8m and 15m across. The east side of the enclosure is marked by a steep scarp down to the pond and to the south by the hollowed trackway up to West Cawthorne Farm. Within the enclosure there are a number of low earthworks including, in the south west corner, the footings for a pair of small buildings or walled pens 5m to 7m across. Just to the north of these remains there is a rectangular area about 4m by 6m, partly defined by grassed over wall footings, cut out of the side of the ditch. Further remains of typically timber built peasant houses, rubbish pits and other features will survive as buried remains. Up hill and to the east of these features there is a building platform in the form of a terrace 30m north-south by 20m wide cut into the rising ground. This is considered to have been for either a house or another building such as a barn. The telegraph poles for an electricity power line and the modern fences are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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: 32632

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Page, W , The Victoria History of the County of Yorkshire: North Riding: Volume I, (1914), 453-455

End of official listing