Skiplam Grange monastic grange


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019752

Date first listed: 09-Mar-2001


Ordnance survey map of Skiplam Grange monastic grange
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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: Nawton


National Grid Reference: SE 65681 87321


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.

Skiplam Grange retains a range of earthwork features, including the remains of several buildings. It is of particular interest because unlike Rievaulx's home granges at Griff and Newlass, which also survive as earthwork sites, Skiplam was tenanted out and managed by lay farmers, rather than being directly managed by the abbey.


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


The monument includes earthwork and associated buried remains of a monastic grange, a medieval farm established by the Cistercian Rievaulx Abbey, which extends around the existing farm of Skiplam Grange. The modern farmyards and buildings overlie part of the original area of the monastic grange, but this area is not included within the monument. Skiplam was part of the large grant of land given to Rievaulx Abbey by Gundreda d'Aubigny between 1144 and 1154 and later confirmed by her son Roger de Mowbray. This grant included some land in cultivation along with previously unexploited land which the abbey was allowed to assart, or improve and bring into productive use, as they wished. By the time of Abbot Ailred (1147-1167) Skiplam was operated as a grange. It is thought that this resulted in the depopulation of Hoveton, a settlement listed by the Domesday Book of 1086 and believed to have been somewhere between Fadmoor and Kirbymoorside. In the late 12th century Rievaulx was granted pasture in Beadlam with a right of way to a sheepcote within the grange which is thought to have been sited at Wether Cote, just over 2km to the NNW of the monument. In the Quo Warranto enquiry of 1293-4, the Abbot of Rievaulx claimed the right of free warren, the right to hunt, on his lands in Skiplam from a grant made by Henry III in 1269. Skiplam may have been leased to a tenant rather than operated as a directly managed grange by the end of the 13th century because it was not listed by the 1301 Lay Subsidy, a tax levied in support of Edward I's military campaigns. Other granges in the area belonging to Rievaulx were listed and assessed. By 1526, Skiplam was farmed by lay persons and inhabited by John and Alison Braithwaite who were granted a generous allowance by the abbey. By the Dissolution of Rievaulx Abbey in 1538-9 the mansion at Skiplam was in the hands of the Abbot, along with the sheep house at Wether Cote and 20 acres of brush wood at Hoggebek. The rest of the estate was divided equally between four tenants William Edon, Thomas Hooton, John Hooton and William Barker at a rent of 3 pounds with the whole estate valued at 12 pounds 15 shillings. In 1541 Skiplam was granted along with other former Rievaulx Abbey lands to Thomas Manners Earl of Rutland. Earthwork remains of the buildings and other features that formed the core of the monastic grange lie in the fields around the modern farm. All lie between two major boundary features which are included within the monument. To the north of the modern farm running approximately south west to north east there is a ditch around 4m wide whose south western end survives mainly as an infilled feature with the north eastern end, which runs down a steep slope, being further emphasised by flanking banks. To the south of the farm, there is a broad bank that starts on the southern side of the modern entrance to Skiplam Grange and runs downhill to the north east. This also forms the south side of the medieval entrance to the complex which is followed by the much narrower modern trackway. Where this bends northwards, the track is flanked by small quarrying hollows which are considered to be medieval in origin, probably to supply building stone which was later reused for the farm buildings now still in use. In the paddock to the north of the modern trackway, there are the earthworks of at least three ranges of buildings. The first is built along the entrance way's northern boundary bank. It is around 25m by 4m, split into three cells and appears to have been open on its northern side. Between this and the modern farm buildings there are the footings of two other building ranges at right angles to each other with the slightly raised platform for another small building just to the west. In the western part of this paddock, along side the road, there are a further set of small quarry scoops which could also be contemporary with the grange, but may alternatively have been dug later to provide road stone. The part of the monument within the field to the north of the modern farm is divided into three areas by marked NNW to SSE lynchets. The western and middle areas retain slight ridge and furrow left by medieval ploughing. The middle area also retains a slight platform which is interpreted as the site of a timber building which is thought to have measured around 10m by 4m. Built into the downhill side of the western of the two lynchets there are the earthworks of a substantial stone building about 10m by 5m, with the slightly less substantial remains of a second longer and thinner building to the south. The hillside drops away quite steeply from here to the ENE, but there are at least a couple of small platforms down this slope that are considered to have been the site of further structures. To the east of the modern farm there is another modern trackway, marked on the 1:10,000 map, that is thought to preserve an earlier route. Just to the west of this there is a stoney boundary bank into the side of which there are the remains of at least two sets of small buildings or small walled pens. Just uphill from this, north east of Skiplam Grange farm house which is the northern-most building of the modern farm complex, there is a mainly infilled stone lined well. Downhill and to the east of the trackway there are the slight earthworks of at least two further buildings, considered to have been timber rather than stone . Flanking the trackway close to the southern boundary of the monument, there is a pair of more substantial building platforms which are thought to be the remains of stone buildings. Further levelled areas, raised platforms and other earthworks representing the remains of additional structures and buildings lie scattered across the monument. Additional buried remains including rubbish and storage pits, yard surfaces and spreads of material like smithing wastes will also survive archaeologically, but will not necessarily show as upstanding earthworks. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling these are; all modern fences, walls, stiles and gates, all water and feeding troughs, and all telegraph poles, although 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: 32703

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Burton, J, 'Citeaux' in Estates and economy of Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire, , Vol. 1-2, (1998), 29-94

End of official listing