Medieval settlement earthworks on and around Town Green


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019092

Date first listed: 07-Jul-2000


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement earthworks on and around Town Green
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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: Settrington

National Grid Reference: SE 82750 70696, SE 83042 70625


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 last 1500 years or more. The Yorkshire Wolds local region is a soft, rolling, chalk landscape with deep valleys. Dispersed farmsteads, usually impressive creations of the late 18th and 19th centuries, are present in small numbers. The earlier pattern of medieval nucleated settlements - villages and hamlets - still dominates the archaeological landscape as either deserted settlement sites or sites still occupied by rural communities.

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. Chantry chapels were built and maintained by endowment and were established for the singing of masses for the soul of the founder. Some chapels possessed burial grounds. Unlike parish churches, the majority of which remain in ecclesiastical use, chapels were often abandoned as their supporting finances declined or disappeared. With many chantry chapels this occurred in the 1540s after the dissolution of their supporting communities. The medieval settlement of Settrington is known to have a long history. The earthworks and other remains of the settlement lying to the south of Town Street are well preserved and retain significant evidence for buildings, including a chantry chapel, and associated yards and enclosures. The settlement is particularly unusual in having a surviving detailed survey from the Tudor period. Evidence of properties mapped in 1600 can still be found, but the surviving earthwork remains also provide evidence for earlier settlement phases. This combination of archaeological and documentary evidence provides a complex and rare insight into what was a major rural medieval settlement.


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


The monument, lying within two areas of protection, includes buried and earthwork remains of part of the medieval settlement of Settrington, including the site of a chantry chapel. It lies at the west end of Settrington, mainly within an area known as Town Green. The Domesday Book of 1087 records that Settrington, valued at 30 shillings, was held by Thorbrandr who took part in the 1069 rising against the Normans. He was killed in Settrington on the orders of Earl Waltheof in 1073 as part of a blood feud. By 1087 the manor, including 16 villagers, two small holders and 20 acres of meadow, was held by Berenger of Tosny and had increased in value to 40 shillings. On his death the manor passed to Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk. Settrington is mentioned in a number of 13th century documents and 22 people were assessed as having over nine shillings in assets in the parish and thus taxed for the 1297 Lay Subsidy. In 1302 the manor was given to Sir John Bigod by the last Bigod Earl of Norfolk. In the 1334 Lay Subsidy, the settlement was assessed for five pounds 13 shillings and four pence, the second highest in Buckrose Wapentake, the local administrative area. Although Settrington had a church, in 1335 a licence was granted for a separate chapel dedicated to St Mary and St John which at the Dissolution in the mid-16th century had two chaplains. In 1537 the manor passed to the Crown following the execution of Sir Francis Bigod for High Treason. In 1544 it was granted to Matthew Earl of Lennox and his wife Margaret, but was back in the Crown's hands in 1600 when a detailed written and mapped survey was made of the manor under the supervision of John Mansfield. Once this survey had determined ownership and other rights within the manor and valued the estate, it was then granted to Ludovick Stuart, Duke of Lennox in 1603. The 1600 survey shows a substantial village of 78 houses and cottages with an overall layout very similar to that which exists 400 years later. The 1660s Hearth Tax returns listed 69 households in the village, of which 13 had more than one hearth. In 1670 Settrington's pastures were enclosed by agreement; further enclosure followed in subsequent years and the last of the medieval open fields were enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1797. The medieval settlement of Settrington is believed to have developed from a twin row village lying either side of the northward flowing Settrington Beck, and to have expanded westwards along a droveway leading from the north end of the village to pastures to the west. This produced an L-shaped village plan with the manor house and the church of All Saints in the south eastern part of the village. The church, which remains in use, is at least 13th century in origin. In the post-medieval period the settlement contracted and in the western part of the village, the southern row of properties along the droveway were abandoned. Parts of this row of medieval properties, along with most of the area of the droveway, remain undeveloped and still retain medieval earthwork remains. It is this area, on the south side of Town Street, that forms the monument. Mansfield's plans show that in 1600 Town Street was known as Highestret and that it still formed a broad droveway leading to pastures to the west. This droveway became known as Town Green and was finally enclosed in 1797. In 1600 there were a similar number of properties on the north side of the street as exist today, with nine houses on the south side on the same east-west alignment as the present Town Green Farm and the pair of cottages to the east. By comparing Mansfield's plans, the 1797 enclosure plan and early Ordnance Survey maps with the surviving earthworks, a number of features dating back to at least the 16th century can be identified. These include several tofts (enclosures for a house and related outbuildings), yards and garden areas. At the eastern end of Town Green there is a prominent raised rectangular platform 20m north-south by 30m east-west with the remains of a building up to 12m by 17m in its north west corner. Extending to the west of this there is a slightly lower platform 30m by 20m with a curving western end. These platforms are identified as the site of the chantry chapel established in 1335 and shown as Chapel Garth by Mansfield. Such chapels were established by endowment in the Middle Ages for the singing of masses for the soul of the founder. By 1600, after the Dissolution, the garth was the freehold property of Leonard Freer and included a dovecote. The surviving triangle of village green now known as Chapel Garth to the north east is not included in the monument. Mansfield's plans show it to have been part of the Highestret, and this area does not retain significant upstanding earthworks. The southern side of the Highestret was later preserved as a field boundary and can still be seen as a marked step up in the ground surface topped in places by a low bank. Immediately south of this boundary, between Town Green Farm and the two cottages to the east, there are the low earthwork remains of a building up to 17m by 15m with a sunken area to the east interpreted as a former yard. To the south there are further low earthwork features extending as far as the modern field boundary. This area is identified as the toft that was the freehold property of John Swynborne in 1600 and which had been part of the holdings of the chantry chapel before the Dissolution. The modern field boundary is considered to be on the same line as that mapped in 1600. The buildings of Town Green Farm are thought to overlie the northern half of two tofts. In 1600 the first was tenanted by Thomas Dunnington and the second the subject of an ownership dispute between Roger Thorpe and Richard Peckett. The boundary between these two tofts and also the next toft to the west can be seen as low banks heading south from the gardens of Town Green Farm. To the west there are the earthwork remains of four complete tofts, each extending about 80m south from the Highestret. The first is about 40m wide and in 1600 was recorded as the site of a cottage owned by George Dodesworthe, Settrington's Bailiff, and occupied by Christopher Bagget. After a low broad bank there is a narrower toft 25m wide which retains earthworks of two buildings. One building platform is orientated east-west in the north east corner of the toft, the second is better defined, with the footings for a building around 15m by 8m, and lies to the south west, orientated at right angles to the first building. Mansfield recorded a house and barn in this toft, both supported by six pairs of timber crucks and noted that it was tenanted by Matthew Farum. The next toft is about 50m wide and also has the remains of two buildings. These are both 6m by 13m with evidence of stone footings. They are end on to each other, sited along the north side of the toft. Mansfield records the tenant as being Percival Warmoth and that he had a house and a barn both supported by five pairs of timber crucks. The westernmost toft is thought to extend between a ditch and Scarlet Baulk Lane, thus being just over 90m wide. The 1600 survey recorded that Aubrey and Richard Heslerton claimed, but could not prove, freehold title to this toft and the associated farm. The detailed plan shows the house, with a small circular walled or fenced yard attached, lying within the Highestret extending north from the boundary of the croft. This may relate to a mound sited on the northern edge of the toft, 70m east of the lane, as immediately to the north there are the stone footings of a structure 7m by 7m with rounded corners. This is particularly interesting as it gives an insight into the complexity of medieval rural settlement. Similar sites located within thoroughfares investigated elsewhere have been identified as originally being squatter houses built on the common land of the street. Alternatively it could be the remains of an earlier street frontage. The complexity of medieval Settrington is further highlighted by the fact that Mansfield's Survey can only be related to some of the earthworks. The area of Mansfield's depiction of the Highestret includes remains of additional buildings, some with stone footings, yards, trackways and other features. These remains show that the monument has a greater chronological depth than that indicated by the post-medieval maps and that the layout and use of the Highestret changed over time. Some of these features will be medieval in origin and would have been earthworks unimportant to Mansfield in 1600. Others are thought to have been still in use, but not recorded by the survey, which for instance did not show outbuildings, or even important structures like barns, on the plans. Some of the features will post date 1600, although it should be noted that the 1797 enclosure plan shows that there were no buildings on Town Green or further to the south at that date, proving that the present Town Green Farm and the cottages to the east were built later. The interrelationships between the various features and the changing uses of the Highestret in the medieval and post-medieval periods can only be more fully understood after detailed investigation and excavation. Fronting onto the present Town Street, just east of the paddock north of Town Green Farm, there is a building platform standing up to 1.2m high supporting the stone footings of what is interpreted as a pair of houses or cottages each 12m by 6m. Behind each there is a lower mound identified as the remains of outbuildings. Centred 80m to the east of the paddock, also next to Town Street, there is a further group of building platforms which appear to front onto a hollow trackway which passes to the south. These are interpreted as the remains of a medieval peasant farmstead abandoned before Mansfield's survey. To the south of these building remains there are two broad hollows which in form are typical of crew yards. These were open yards used to hold cattle during the winter which became common from the 14th century. There are further crew yards to the west of the paddock, opposite Fisher Farm, along with a complex of sunken trackways and raised platforms which include the probable sites of at least four timber buildings. Approximately 120m west of the paddock there is a north-south ditch, marked on early Ordnance Survey maps as a field boundary. Just beyond this there are the stone footings of a 9m by 9m building fronting onto Town Street with the earthwork remains of a range of outbuildings extending 25m southwards to its rear. South of this, after a gap of about 30m, there is another earthwork structure with evidence of stonework. This is a 10m by 7m rectangular platform, with a 5m diameter, 0.5m high mound sited on its southern half which is interpreted as a kiln or oven. The second protected area, which lies to the west of Scarlet Balk Lane, retains further crew yards and raised platforms. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are all modern fences, walls, and gates, water troughs and the platforms that they stand on, and all telegraph poles; however, the ground beneath 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: 32663

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Mansfield, J, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Society Records Series' in Survey of Settrington, , Vol. 126, (1961)

End of official listing