Kirby Knowle medieval settlement 220m west and 150m south west of Manor House Farm
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1019521
Date first listed: 09-Mar-2001
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: North Yorkshire
District: Hambleton (District Authority)
Parish: Kirby Knowle
National Park: NORTH YORK MOORS
National Grid Reference: SE 46804 87476, SE 47014 87281
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 Cleveland Bench local region is a slightly elevated, undulating lowland
skirting the northern and western sides of the North York Moors. Settlement is
largely in the form of nucleated villages which were established in the Middle
Ages, and which bear traces of their original rectilinear planning. Shrunken
and deserted villages are common, now often marked only by an isolated, still
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 surviving at Kirby Knowle retain a very good cross section of medieval rural life including a manorial enclosure with an adjacent watermill, along with the tofts of the village's peasant population and part of the settlement's open field system.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes earthwork and associated buried remains of the medieval
settlement of Kirby Knowle along with a surviving area of its medieval field
system. It does not include the buried remains that are suspected to survive
beneath existing buildings and their gardens, nor the area of the churchyard.
The monument lies within two areas of protection either side of the road
through the village.
Kirby Knowle is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as being one of the
outliers of the manor at Bagby, the others being Sutton under Whitestone
Cliffe, Carlton Miniot, Arden Hall and Kepwick. This extensive manor had been
held by Ormr, who also held lands in Lincolnshire, and was valued at 8 pounds
before the Norman Conquest. By 1086, valued at 2 pounds, it had passed to Hugh
son of Baldric who was Sheriff of York in the 1070s. The manor is then thought
to have passed to Robert de Stuteville and then, in 1106, to Nigel d'Aubigny
subsequently forming part of the large Fee of Mowbray. By the late 13th
century all of Upsall and part of Kirby Knowle appears to have formed a manor
which was held by Sir Roger Lascelles from Baldwin Wake who in turn was a
subtenant of the Mowbray Fee. Sir Roger, descendant of Roger de Lascelles who
held land in Kirby Knowle in 1141, built a stone quadrangular castle between
the two villages. He served as an advisor to Edward I between 1294 and 1296,
dying the following year. This castle was destroyed by fire in 1568 and was
replaced on the same site by Newbuilding which lies nearly 1km to the WNW of
the monument. For the Lay Subsidy in 1301, a tax levied by the king, 14 men
and women were listed in Kirby Knowle paying a total of 32 shillings 8 pence,
headed by Isabella de Lascelles who paid 5 shillings 5 pence. By the Hearth
Tax of the 1660s there were 27 households for the township of Kirby Knowle,
eight without a hearth at all whilst one, owned by the then Lord of the Manor
James Danby, had 14.
The layout of the village has changed little since the late 19th century
Ordnance Survey map. It is based on the lane from Upsall which approaches from
the south west and leads north east, forming the main street, turning into a
hollow way past Manor House Farm. It then climbs the steep scarp to Kirby
Knowle Moor which was the subject of a legal dispute over grazing rights in
1141. The modern road does not climb the scarp but turns north as Ingdale Lane
to the west of Manor House Farm. This farm is probably built in the area of a
medieval manor house.
A second medieval manor house site survives as earthworks on the north side of
the main street at the western end of the village, incorporating the church
within its enclosure. This church was rebuilt in 1872 on the site of a much
earlier building. It is dedicated to the Anglo-Saxon St Wilfred suggesting
that it was a pre-Norman Conquest foundation. Beyond the church and manor
house remains there are the earthworks of a complex water management system
including the site of an early watermill. The large Georgian period Knowle
House, opposite the church on the south side of the road, is thought to have
been built over an area of lower status medieval properties. These fronted
onto the main street and extended as narrow strips to a back lane 80m-100m to
the south. Earthwork remains of such properties lie in the field to the east
of Knowle House.
The larger area of protection lies to the north of the road, west of Ingdale
Lane. This is bisected north east to south west by a stream. Starting just
west of where the stream crosses a field boundary, 90m north of the church,
there are the infilled remains of a leat which now appears as a meandering
level trackway that runs south west on the uphill, northern side of the modern
stream course. This originally redirected the flow of water to supply a
watermill 150m west of the church. The mill site survives as a set of
earthworks around a deep depression which is the remains of the wheelpit.
These earthworks show that the mill was around 12 sq m, that the waterwheel
was powered by a fall of water of at least 2m and that there was an overflow
channel around its western side. Forming the eastern side of the mill site and
extending SSE to the road before turning east, there is a substantial dam up
to around 2m high and 5m to 6m wide at its base which is marked as an
earthwork on Ordnance Survey maps. This dam is interpreted as being for a pond
supplying a mill further downstream to the south west. Its level appears to
have been too low to power the adjacent mill. To the north east of the mill
pond, centred about 50m west of the church, there is an area of upstanding
earthworks, up to 1m high in places, which is approximately 35m square and
aligned with the main street. These earthworks are interpreted as the remains
of a stone built manor house incorporating at least three buildings arranged
around a small central yard. To the south east of this, on the bank
overlooking the mill pond, there are the earthworks of another building about
5m by 6m, and to the south by the road there is a raised platform interpreted
as the site of a timber building. These are considered to be ancillary
buildings to the manor house which, along with the church, all lie within a
rectangular enclosure 150m by 80m. The northern side of this enclosure is
defined by a sharp break of slope parallel with the main street to the south.
The eastern side is defined by a substantial bank up to 1m high and 6m wide
with an outer ditch 4m wide and a narrower bank beyond. This runs at right
angles to the main street approximately 50m east of the field boundary that
extends north from the churchyard. The road and the mill pond are thought to
have formed the remaining two sides. This enclosure, which also includes the
church within its boundaries, is considered to be an early manorial enclosure
and will typically also include buried evidence of the manor's home farm.
There is an irregular area to the north and east of this enclosure which is
low lying and is thought to have acted as a small water meadow or as a broad
millpond for the mill in the western part of the monument. This area is
defined to the east by a raised trackway which runs parallel and 40m-50m west
of Ingdale Lane. Up to where the lane turns NNW, the area between the lane and
track is divided by a low bank into two strips each approximately 20m wide
extending back from the village's main street, the southern end of which is
overlain by modern buildings and gardens. These two strips are interpreted as
tofts, lower status medieval properties which would have included a house,
associated outbuildings, yards and garden areas. To the north of these tofts
between the lane and track, there is a 40m wide area of medieval ridge and
furrow, evidence of arable farming. Further ridge and furrow survives as
earthworks in the modern field to the north. This displays the classic
elongated reverse S shaped ridges and furrows that were produced by medieval
ploughing practice. Also preserved in this field is a baulk between two sets
of ridge and furrow and a hollow way which continues the line of Ingdale Lane
NNW when the modern road bends to the NNE.
To the south of the main street, extending east from Knowle House, is
the second area of protection. This includes the remains of a further series
of at least nine tofts, each around 20m wide, which extended south from the
main street. They are separated from each other by breaks of slope, slight
banks or shallow ditches. In the medieval period these may have been
supplemented by fences, walls or hedges, evidence for which will survive as
buried remains. These tofts would have been occupied by individual peasant
families in buildings far less substantial than the manor house to the west of
the church. However some of the tofts do retain earthworks of slightly more
substantial buildings. Set 35m back from the road half way between Holme House
and Knowle House there is a slightly raised platform with earthwork evidence
for two buildings, whilst 60m east of Holme House there is a 10m by 20m area
of building remains including some stone footings. The rear of these tofts is
defined by a slightly meandering trackway which formed a back lane for the
village. The western part of the rear boundary of Knowle House's grounds,
which lie outside of the monument, is thought to continue the line of this
back lane. Houses, outbuildings and other features will survive as buried
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the Yorkshire
Water watertank 140m north east of the church, all modern fences, walls,
styles, gates and sign posts, water troughs and the platforms that they stand
on, and all telegraph poles; however, the ground beneath these features is
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: 32701
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Grainge, W , The Vale of Mowbray: A Historical and Topographical Account of Thirsk and its Neighbourhood, (1859), 223-238
Harrision, John , Forthcomming book on mills of eastern Yorkshire, Expected to be published 2000-2001
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