Thirkleby medieval settlement adjacent to Thirkleby Manor


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Thirkleby medieval settlement adjacent to Thirkleby Manor
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Ryedale (District Authority)
Kirby Grindalythe
National Grid Reference:
SE 92011 68575

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. Around 4000 parochial chapels were built between the 12th and 17th centuries as subsidiary places of worship for the convenience of parishioners who lived at a distance from the main parish church or as private places of worship for the manorial lord. Some chapels possess burial grounds. Unlike parish churches, the majority of which remain in ecclesiastical use, chapels were often abandoned as their communities and supporting finances declined. The sites of abandoned chapels are particularly worthy of statutory protection as they were often left largely undisturbed and thus retain important information about the nature and date of their use until their abandonment. The remains of the medieval settlement of Thirkleby are well preserved and include a wide range of features, including the courtyard farmstead and the chapel. The village settlement was occupied over several hundred years and demonstrates changing agricultural practise over time, for example, with the development of the courtyard farm around the 15th century. This probably indicates an increased emphasis on stockbreeding at this time. The monument's importance is heightened by its group value with other surviving settlement remains further up the valley at Kirby Grindalythe and to the east of Duggleby. Along with the upstanding earthworks, the monument will also retain buried medieval remains such as rubbish pits, post holes and scatters of material which will not necessarily show as upstanding earthworks, but will retain a wealth of archaeological information.


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of the medieval settlement of Thirkleby, including the remains of a chapel, located to the south of Thirkleby Manor. The Domesday Book of 1087 notes that Thirkleby was divided between two manors. The largest portion was held by Eadgifu before the Norman Conquest. She was the sister of two prominent earls, Edwin and Morcar, and married King Harold in 1066. Eadgifu's manor was described as being two leagues long and one wide with land for four plough teams, valued at 30 shillings. By 1087 this manor was held by Ralph of Mortemer and was described as waste. The smaller portion of Thirkleby, enough for two plough teams, was held by Ketilbjorn who also held parts of Kirby Grindalythe and Low Mowthorpe. This passed to Count Robert Mortain, William I's half brother and second largest post-Conquest land holder. By 1274-5 William de Preston was recorded as holding land in Thirkleby and Agnes de Preston in 1293-4. Six people, headed by Agnes de Preston, were taxed for the 1297 Lay Subsidy, a tax which did not include people with less than nine shillings in assets. By comparison, in neighbouring Kirkby Grindalythe only four people were taxed. The settlement was assessed for 30 shillings for the 1334 Lay Subsidy, against Kirby Grindalythe's 38 shillings, but granted 40% relief following the Black Death later in the middle part of the century. In 1517 part of the settlement's medieval open fields were enclosed, implying that the settlement was being depopulated at this time. The existing manor house and associated farmyard, which all lie outside the boundary of the monument, date from the late 18th century. Running along and just inside the south east side of the monument there is a medieval lane preserved as a bridleway which continues south west to Kirby Grindalythe and to the north east to West Lutton. This is considered to have formed the main street of the medieval settlement. Within the area of the monument two hollow ways run downhill from the lane to the valley bottom and the Gypsey Race. One remains in use as a trackway marked on the 1:10,000 map and the other is an earthwork feature lying 40m to the south west. Running parallel with these hollow ways are a succession of boundaries marked by low banks or breaks of slope, dividing the hillside into a series of strips extending between the lane and the stream. These strips are identified as tofts and associated crofts, a toft being the plot for a house, outbuildings and yards with the a croft being a small enclosure for horticulture or livestock, each strip originally being a separate medieval tenement. The area to the north east of the hollow way still used as a track, is divided into two terraces. This area is recorded as Chapel Garth on 19th century maps. The upper terrace is 50m-60m wide and is about 1.5m above the lower terrace which is 15m-20m wide and stands 2m above the valley bottom. This area is also divided into two approximately equal areas about 40m wide by a bank up to 5m wide and 0.5m high parallel with the hollow way. To the north east of this bank on the top terrace there are the footings of a small rectangular building with a rounded east end. This is identified as the remains of a manorial chapel with a yard defined by further banks on its south and east side. This yard is separated from the lane by a narrow plot 8m wide which includes a low platform identified as the remains of another building. The south western half of the upper terrace is identified as a toft, with another building platform sited next to the lane in its southern corner. The area between the two hollow ways is divided into three terraces and is interpreted as a single tenement around 40m wide, with the top terrace, which is further defined by a low bank, forming a toft. The tenements to the south west of the hollow way are narrower, generally 25m to 30m wide. The first four have tofts adjacent to the medieval lane with crofts extending beyond a sharp break of slope down the hillside to the stream. The first is around 30m wide with a toft, including a building platform, extending about 10m from the lane. The next three tenements are each about 25m wide and their tofts show evidence of having been amalgamated. The tofts form a distinctive terrace along the edge of which are the footings of three buildings. The central structure is 9m in diameter and is flanked by the remains of two rectangular buildings. To the south east, the plots appear to be simple crofts extending between the lane and the stream. The area of the monument on the north western side of the Gypsey Race forms part of the valley floor. This is also divided into strips by low banks running north west to south east. Towards the south western end of the area there are the earthwork remains of a complex of buildings measuring 30m by 25m overall, arranged around a central courtyard 13m square. This is identified as a small courtyard farmstead which elsewhere on the Wolds has been shown by excavation to typically date to around the 15th century. Courtyard farmsteads are thought to indicate a different farming regime to that practised from the typically earlier medieval longhouse based farmstead. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the stable block, all modern fences and walls, all stiles 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.

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Beresford, M W , 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in Lost Villages of Yorkshire, , Vol. 38, (1952), 64


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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