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Newlass Cistercian monastic grange adjacent to New Leys Farm

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Newlass Cistercian monastic grange adjacent to New Leys Farm

List entry Number: 1019343


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Ryedale

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Rievaulx


Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 17-Jan-1975

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Jul-2000

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 32672

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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.

Newlass monastic grange retains especially well-preserved earthworks representing a large number of stone and timber buildings. It is especially important because it was established by Rievaulx Abbey, one of the leading monasteries in medieval England. Newlass provides a very valuable insight into the economy of a major medieval monastery, complimenting the remains of the abbey itself, 1.5km to the south.


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


The monument includes earthwork and associated buried remains of a medieval farm (or grange) which was under the direct control of the Cistercian abbey at Rievaulx. It is located on a level area overlooking a deep gully known as Moll Dawson's Slack immediately to the east. Newlass was not listed in the Domesday Book of 1086; its earliest mention is in the 1301 Lay Subsidy, a tax levied to support Edward I's campaigns against the Scots, Welsh and French. The area was part of the second grant of land to Rievaulx Abbey by Walter d'Espec in 1145 who had founded the Abbey with his first grant in 1131. The grange is thought to have been established some time after Abbot Ailred (1147-1167), but before the 1301 Lay Subsidy when it was listed as Newlathes, meaning new barns, as a grange of Rievaulx Abbey and assessed at 66 shillings and 4 pence. In 1539 when the abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII, Newlass was still run by the abbey rather than being leased to a tenant. The grange was valued at 6 pounds 15 shillings and 6 pence and included a dwelling house, a great sheep house along with several outbuildings. The grange had 354 acres of which 288 acres were pasture, 38 acres were meadow and 8 acres were used as a garden. As well as being a bercarie (a sheep farm), Newlass also included a small rabbit farm on its land with a house and rabbit warren set in five acres of pasture. Following the Dissolution, the freehold, along with the site of the abbey and other Rievaulx estates, was granted to Thomas Manners, Earl of Rutland. The upstanding earthworks that extend across the monument include the remains of three main groups of buildings, along with a series of banks and a scatter of more isolated structures, some of which are shown in a highly simplified form on the 1:10,000 map. Most of the remains lie within the bounds of an irregular stoney bank which extends from the north side of the modern farmyard curving around to the east to return to the south side, enclosing an area up to 250m north-south and 200m east-west. This bank is irregular in both form and course, and incorporates a number of buildings along its length. One of the groups of buildings is clustered around an entrance to this enclosure. This lies 200m north of the modern farmhouse, which is marked on the 1:10,000 map as the southernmost building in the modern farmyard. The entrance way is about 7m wide, flanked with a pair of substantial banks which run 13m south eastwards. The north eastern side is then continued by the remains of a range of three stone buildings. The first is 5m by 5m, the second 6m by 15m parallel with the entrance way and the last 7m by 10m orientated at right angles so that the building juts 4m into the line of the entrance way. The earthworks of the rear wall of the first two buildings are very substantial, standing to 1m high, and are thought to include the remains of buttresses which would imply that these buildings had an upper floor. The south western side of the entrance way broadens out to 20m wide for 15m where the bank turns a right angle back north east, stopping 7m short of the middle building on the north east side. Within this broadened area there are the limited remains of another two structures, one 5m by 5m, the other 12m by 4m orientated with the entrance way. These are interpreted as the remains of timber buildings. On the outside of the entrance way, 10m to the south west along the boundary bank, and effectively forming part of the line of the bank, there are the remains of another stone built structure. This is 17m by 5m divided into three cells with a 7m long cell in the middle and 5m square cells at the two ends. On the south east side of the middle cell, at a distance of 1m, there is another parallel wall line. This structure is thought to represent the remains of a set of small livestock pens. Also forming part of the boundary bank, but on the other side of the entrance way, some 70m west of the livestock pens and 50m west of the inside end of the entrance way, there are the earthworks of a building 7m by 11m orientated north-south. On its western side there is an area of further earthworks of structures over an area about 10m by 15m, whilst just over 50m to the east, outside the main enclosure, there are the rounded earthworks of another building approximately 6m by 9m. To the south of and in line with the entrance way to the enclosure, there is a 4m diameter depression which is up to 0.5m deep. This is in the open area of the enclosure, 45m south east of the group of buildings around the entrance. This depression is thought to mark the position of a well. Due east of this there is another group of building remains which are very simply shown on the 1:10,000 map 180m north east of the modern farmhouse. Of this group there is a principal building measuring 7m by 16m with opposed central entrances which included dressed stonework in its construction. This building's size and layout suggests that it could have been a threshing barn. It is orientated on the same axis as the entrance way to the north west, its south western doorway opening out onto the interior of the main enclosure, its north eastern doorway leading out to a small yard 20m across. This yard is enclosed by an eastward extension of the main boundary bank which in places here can be seen to have also included coursed stonework. There is some evidence to suggest that this eastward extension is a later addition to the grange's enclosure because a bank continues southwards, skirting the western side of the principal building, continuing the line of the main boundary bank to the north. The south side of the yard is formed by a further set of buildings all set at an angle to the first and arranged loosely around another, smaller, open area or yard. Three of these buildings are orientated approximately east-west and measure around 6m by 4m. The last is orientated approximately north-south, but not at right angles to the rest, and is built into the boundary bank. It measures about 11m by 4m and is split into two unequal cells. In the north western corner of the main yard, north of the principal building there is a 3m diameter circular structure incorporated into the boundary bank where it turns east from the possible original boundary bank that continues south. This structure is interpreted as a kiln or oven, known from excavations elsewhere to have sometimes been built into boundary banks, and was possibly used for drying or malting grain. Centred 40m to the south east of this group of buildings there is another, more regular group of building remains arranged around a square yard 15m across. On the north and south sides of this yard there are the earthworks, standing up to 0.8m high, of a pair of stone buildings approximately 6m by 17m. The northern building, which forms part of the circuit of the main boundary bank, appears to have had a small outbuilding attached to its western end and to have had buttresses supporting its northern wall. The east side of the yard is also defined by a building. This included a cell 5m by 7m and is thought to have been a similar size to the other two buildings. However it has been partly disturbed by a modern gateway and a post-medieval enclosure bank which incorporates the northern wall of the southern building to extend south westwards towards the modern farm. This tree lined boundary bank, which is marked on the 1:10,000 map as a dashed line, has been replaced by a modern fence. On the south side of this boundary, around the south west corner of the yard, there is an `L'- shaped enclosure with an entrance way through its south side. The earthworks to the south of the enclosure boundary are more rounded and show less exposed stonework than those to the north. They include the remains of a number of buildings which are more scattered than those to the north which are mainly arranged around small yards. Just south of the `L'-shaped enclosure there is a sunken area 20m by 10m interpreted as the site of a building with an undercroft or cellar. The remains of a similar structure 12m by 6m lies 20m to the north west where as the footings for two small stone buildings without cellars lie 30m to the south west. Extending over 30m southwards from the corner of the southernmost of these buildings is a broadening bank which is interpreted as a small midden, a rubbish tip. The remains of the grange's largest building lies 50m to the west, shown in highly simplified form on the 1:10,000 map 100m east of the farmhouse. It is orientated east-west and measures about 35m east-west by 13m north-south with a central doorway through its northern wall. This could be interpreted as the great sheep house listed by the inventory taken at the Dissolution in 1539. At its south east corner there is a platform for a structure 5m square and there are further low structural remains just outside its north east corner. The west wall of the large building extends southwards as a low bank before turning west to run along the top of a lynchet. Extending southwards from this lynchet there are the footings of a stone building 7m by 7m. The bank-topped lynchet forms a `T'-junction with another low bank which runs approximately north-south between and nearly parallel with the modern field boundary and the modern trackway which run south from the farmhouse. This is identified as the western boundary of the grange's enclosure. Just beyond it, parallel with the modern track, there is a hollow way. This is also included in the monument and is identified as a section of the trackway between the grange and the abbey. The above description only covers the more obvious upstanding earthwork remains. In addition there are numerous short sections of bank and lynchet which originally subdivided the enclosure. There are also slighter earthworks which will include the remains of further timber buildings and other structures. Across the whole area of the monument there will also be buried remains not identified by upstanding earthworks. Areas which otherwise look flat will include buried features such as post holes for timber structures, rubbish and storage pits and spreads of material which will preserve information about the life and economy of the medieval grange. Some of these features will also survive beneath the modern farmyard. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are all modern farm buildings, fences, styles and gates, the concrete farmyard surfaces and other concrete farm structures, water troughs and telegraph poles; however, the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Burton, J, 'Citeaux' in Estates and economy of Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire, , Vol. 1-2, (1998), 29-93
Pacitto, A, 'History of Helmsley, Rievaulx and District' in Two Monastic Granges, (1963), 438-9

National Grid Reference: SE 58182 86625


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This copy shows the entry on 16-Aug-2018 at 01:30:04.

End of official listing