Rudland Close monastic grange, 750m south east of Saddle Stone


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018980

Date first listed: 19-Jun-2000


Ordnance survey map of Rudland Close monastic grange, 750m south east of Saddle Stone
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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: Hutton-le-Hole


National Grid Reference: SE 69955 93624


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

Reasons for Designation

A monastic grange was a farm owned and run by a monastic community and independent of the secular manorial system of communal agriculture and servile labour. The function of granges was to provide food and raw materials for consumption within the parent monastic house itself, and also to provide surpluses for sale for profit. The first monastic granges appeared in the 12th century but they continued to be constructed and used until the Dissolution. This system of agriculture was pioneered by the Cistercian order but was soon imitated by other orders. Some granges were worked by resident lay-brothers (secular workers) of the order but others were staffed by non-resident labourers. The majority of granges practised a mixed economy but some were specialist in their function. Five types of grange are known: agrarian farms, bercaries (sheep farms), vaccaries (cattle ranches), horse studs and industrial complexes. A monastery might have more than one grange and the wealthiest houses had many. Frequently a grange was established on lands immediately adjacent to the monastery, this being known as the home grange. Other granges, however, could be found wherever the monastic site held lands. On occasion these could be located at some considerable distance from the parent monastery. Granges are broadly comparable with contemporary secular farms although the wealth of the parent house was frequently reflected in the size of the grange and the layout and architectural embellishment of the buildings. Additionally, because of their monastic connection, granges tend to be much better documented than their secular counterparts. No region was without monastic granges. The exact number of sites which originally existed is not precisely known but can be estimated, on the basis of numbers of monastic sites, at several thousand. Of these, however, only a small percentage can be accurately located on the ground today. Of this group of identifiable sites, continued intensive use of many has destroyed much of the evidence of archaeological remains. In view of the importance of granges to medieval rural and monastic life, all sites exhibiting good archaeological survival are identified as nationally important.

Rudland Close monastic grange is a well preserved example of a moorland bercarie, demonstrating the high level of investment that monastic houses put into the profitable medieval wool trade. Information provided by the small scale excavations in the mid-1960s confirms the importance of the site.


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


The monument includes buried and earthwork remains of the core of a monastic grange at the southern end of Rudland Close. It is located on the west bank of Rudland Beck towards the head of the valley between Blakey and Hutton Ridges. The monument is identified as a medieval bercarie, a sheep farm, belonging to St Mary's Abbey in York which, from the early 12th century at the latest, held extensive rights within the Lordship of Spaunton, including Rudland Close. This close, which covers just over 25ha, extends on both sides of Rudland Beck. It is defined by a bank and outer ditch around most of its circuit, sections of which are now marked on modern maps as drains. In the southern corner of this large close there is a smaller enclosure including the remains of a number of buildings. It is this enclosure that is the subject of the scheduling, as it formed the functional core of the grange. The buildings were investigated by A Pacitto in the mid-1960s with a series of small scale sample excavations, uncovering medieval features but leaving them in situ. The enclosure is approximately triangular, bound to the east by Rudland Beck, to the SSW by a boundary formed by an orthostatic wall which becomes a low bank and then a dry stone wall, and to the north west by a stone revetted drainage ditch which runs to the north of a range of ruined buildings. The interior of the enclosure slopes gently downhill from this drainage ditch to Rudland Beck. The range of buildings survive as stone walling, mostly covered in vegetation typically standing between 0.3m and just over 1m high. They extend along the south western half of the north western boundary. The main structure is a medieval aisled barn just over 33m long and 8.5m wide, aligned north east to south west across the slope of the hillside. It is interpreted as a sheep house with an upper floor for human accommodation and fodder storage. It has 13 pairs of pillar bases down its length forming a central nave just over 5m wide, and narrow side aisles just over 1m wide, with the pillars spaced at about 2.5m intervals down the length of the barn. It has three entrances, a 1m wide doorway positioned centrally in the south east wall and 1.8m entrances through both end walls. Sample excavation revealed a clay floor with cobbling laid around these entrances. The clay is thought to have come from a 10m wide scoop dug out of the hillside on the north west side of the building. The side walls are nearly 1m thick and are constructed with mainly undressed stone which includes a number of large boulders. These side walls extend a further 18m south west from the barn to form an enclosed yard. Across the end of this yard, blocking its original 3.65m wide entrance, there are the remains of a building interpreted as a house which was later rebuilt on a slightly different plan. The first house measured 8.5m by 4.3m internally with walls just over 0.5m thick. Excavation evidence suggested that the roof was supported by gable walls and a single pair of centrally placed cruck timbers. There is no evidence of internal divisions to the building, which had its doorway through the south west wall and a hearth stone towards its northern corner. This is thought to have been a later addition to the grange to provide improved living accommodation. At some date this building collapsed, with the south eastern gable wall falling outwards. It was replaced by a cruder, slightly smaller building, reusing the north and south western walls, blocking the original doorway and making an entrance into the walled yard. This building is thought to postdate the monastic grange and is similar to post-medieval temporary shepherds' huts. The 1960s sample excavations also uncovered a small lean-to building built over collapsed stone rubble against the outside wall of the barn, close to its south corner. It is of drystone construction with a carefully laid floor of irregular stone slabs and measures 3.2m by 1.7m internally. This is also thought to be post-medieval. To the south of the building range there are at least two level areas within the enclosure. These are interpreted as platforms for medieval timber buildings. The first is 8m by 5m orientated parallel with and 11m away from the northern half of the barn. The second is a 10m by 6m area terraced into the hillside against the south western boundary wall towards the southern corner of the enclosure. Evidence of other structures and features relating to the monastic grange will survive archaeologically throughout the enclosure.

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: 32659

Legacy System: RSM


Pacitto, A, Rudland Close, site of a medieval aisled barn on the NY Moors, 1966, Interim report

End of official listing