Hanging Grimston medieval settlement adjacent to Mount Pleasant Farm


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
Ryedale (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 79903 59971

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. Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were divided into strips (known as lands) 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 were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal headlands at the plough turning points and lateral grass baulks. 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 contribution to the character of the historic landscape. The earthworks of Hanging Grimston are particularly well preserved. In addition, buried remains such as rubbish pits, yard surfaces, and spreads of deposits such as smithing wastes will add to the understanding of medieval village life, none of which will necessarily show as upstanding earthworks. The monument also gains additional importance via its association with St Mary's Abbey. The village settlement appears to have been occupied for several hundred years and demonstrates changing agricultural practises over this period, for example, with the development of courtyard farms around the 15th century. These probably indicate an increased emphasis on stockbreeding at this time.


The monument includes buried and earthwork remains of the medieval village of Hanging Grimston, together with the surviving area of its open field system visible as ridge and furrow earthworks. It is located to the south and west of Mount Pleasant Farm. Originally known as Grimston, the `Hanging' prefix of the settlement's name first occurred in 1300; the settlement was a township of Kirby Underdale. The Domesday Book of 1087 listed two manors for the settlement. The first was held by Odo the Crossbowman, William the Conqueror's chief military engineer, and included arable land for four and a half plough teams and eight acres of meadow. The second manor included the same amount of arable land and was held by the king who let it to Osweard and Rothmundr. By 1093 William Rufus confirmed the granting of both his and Odo's manors to St Mary's Benedictine Abbey in York which is thought to have held the township until the abbey was dissolved in 1539. In 1381, 79 people were listed as being over 14 and thus liable for the Poll Tax. Enclosure of the medieval openfields was reported in 1517 and by 1563 all of the township was in the ownership of Lord Dacre. A Chancery petition in 1619 noted that there was just a small area of arable left, indicating that the settlement was effectively deserted by this time. The earthworks of the village extend down a south facing hillside with building platforms forming a number of small terraces. In overall form the village was simple in plan with two rows of properties facing each other across a narrow village green with a third row of smaller houses to the north west following a section of a back lane. The village's main street was a southwards continuation of Gatehowe Road, now followed by a footpath in the bottom of a hollow way. This continued south, past the western side of the modern Mount Pleasant Farm and broadened into a long narrow village green which formed the heart of the village. To the west of this main street there was another lane marked by a hollow way. This is approximately followed by the modern road line southwards, diverging from the main street at the north end of the monument. Linking these two routeways there is a 20m wide terrace supporting the trackway which ends at the modern farm. Mount Pleasant Farm is thought to have developed out of the last farm remaining following the depopulation of the village in the 16th century, and the terrace is interpreted as a drove way for the sheep which were more profitable than tenant farmers for the landlord at that time. Running southwards from this drove way, 60m west of the entrance to the farm, there is another hollow way which formed a back lane for properties fronting onto the western side of the green. The main core of the settlement lies to the south of the drove way. Between the back lane and the village green, which lies 40-50m to the east, there is a north-south row of at least six tofts (plots for houses, outbuildings and yards), terraced into the hillside. The toft immediately to the north east of the present house, which lies to the south west of the modern farm, is especially complex, with remains of several buildings arranged around a central yard. The village green is about 30m wide and has been heavily quarried into a series of depressions extending down the hill, some of which contain water. As this quarrying is constrained by the building platforms to east and west, it is thought to have taken place during the lifetime of the village. On the eastern side of the green there are further tofts retaining building remains. The tofts have a common boundary ditch to the east and are separated from each other by low banks or breaks of slope. Centred 200m south of the modern farm there are the remains of a small courtyard farmstead, similar to those found to typically date to around the 15th century elsewhere on the Wolds. This measures 22m by 40m externally and includes a horseshoe of buildings around a south facing yard 8m by 20m. The next two tofts to the north extend just over 100m back from the green. They appear to have been amalgamated as they share a single building 8m by 20m orientated parallel to the green. The two tofts to the south of the courtyard farmstead are not as long, extending about 70m back from the green. The northern one has a single small building platform, whereas the southern toft retains evidence of at least two structures. Fronting onto the green there is a level area for a small building similar to several other tofts within the monument. To the east there is a raised platform 8m by 8m, 0.5m high with a 5m diameter, 0.7m high mound on its northern, uphill half. This is interpreted as the remains of a kiln or oven. The northern part of the monument, to the east of the modern road and north of the track to Mount Pleasant Farm, is divided into a series of six east-west terraces extending down the hillside southwards. On the western side of this area, extending south from approximately where the modern road diverges south from the field boundary, there is a row of five to six small building platforms. These are typically 8m across and front onto the hollow way, which runs just east of the modern road and is interpreted as a former back lane, with a low bank to their east. These are interpreted as platforms for less substantial medieval peasant houses than those fronting onto the green. Along the southern edge of the northernmost terrace there are the footings of a further three buildings. These are much more substantial in nature and are more comparable with those near the village green. The middle structure is 10m by 10m and the two flanking ones are both 8m by 11m. The next two terraces, both about 20m wide, are interpreted as crofts, probably originally used for horticulture. The fourth terrace down the hillside is the widest, up to 35m wide. This has been used for quarrying, but also has a small building platform in its south west corner and a circular depression around 20m in diameter to the east interpreted as a dewpond. The terraces to the south are more irregular, narrower and also show evidence of quarrying. Further to the south, beyond the drove way to Mount Pleasant Farm, there are the earthworks of ridge and furrow cultivation following the contours east to west and extending between the back lane of the properties fronting onto the village green and the other lane followed by the modern road. To the west of the modern road there are the well preserved remains of further medieval ridge and furrow earthworks. In the northern 300m of the area, the ridge and furrow is orientated north-south, down the gentle slope of the hillside. The northern end is cut across by a later field boundary, but the southern end retains a well defined header bank. To the south of this, the hillside steepens and the ridge and furrow is orientated with the contours east-west, producing a succession of low lynchets. On the far western side there is a stone arched well known as Sounding Well, cut into the hillside, which may have medieval origins. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are all modern fences, walls, styles and gates, water troughs and the platforms that they stand on, telegraph poles and all road and path surfaces; 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.

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Books and journals
Beresford, M W , 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in Lost Villages of Yorkshire, , Vol. 38, (1952), 62


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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