The Reins medieval deer park boundary within Park Ends and Oaktree Wood


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019864

Date first listed: 25-Jun-2001


Ordnance survey map of The Reins medieval deer park boundary within Park Ends and Oaktree Wood
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Bishop Burton

National Grid Reference: SE 98420 40778


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

Reasons for Designation

Deer parks were areas of land, usually enclosed, set aside and equipped for the management and hunting of deer and other animals. They were generally located in open countryside on marginal land or adjacent to a manor house, castle or palace. They varied in size between 3ha and 1600ha and usually comprised a combination of woodland and grassland which provided a mixture of cover and grazing for deer. Parks could contain a number of features, including hunting lodges (often moated), a park-keeper's house, rabbit warrens, fishponds and enclosures for game, and were usually surrounded by a park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank often with an internal ditch. Although a small number of parks may have been established in the Anglo-Saxon period, it was the Norman aristocracy's taste for hunting that led to the majority being constructed. The peak period for the laying-out of parks, between AD 1200 and 1350, coincided with a time of considerable prosperity amongst the nobility. From the 15th century onwards few parks were constructed and by the end of the 17th century the deer park in its original form had largely disappeared. The original number of deer parks nationally is unknown but probably exceeded 3000. Many of these survive today, although often altered to a greater or lesser degree. They were established in virtually every county in England, but are most numerous in the West Midlands and Home Counties. Deer parks were a long-lived and widespread monument type. Today they serve to illustrate an important aspect of the activities of medieval nobility and still exert a powerful influence on the pattern of the modern landscape. Where a deer park survives well and is well-documented or associated with other significant remains, its principal features are normally identified as nationally important.

The Reins medieval deer park boundary within Park Ends and Oaktree Wood is well documented and it also retains the best surviving boundary earthworks in the East Riding. The park's association with the Archbishops of York adds to the monument's importance.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and associated buried remains of part of the boundary of a medieval deer park. This park formed part of the manor of Bishop Burton which belonged to the Archbishop of York until 1542. The monument lies to the west and north of Bishop Burton College within Park Ends and Oaktree Wood. Bishop Burton is believed to have been the residence of Earl Puch in the 8th century and is thought to have been one of 12 East Riding manors given to the Bishopric of York by Athelstan who was king from 924-939. The Domesday Book of 1087 records that the manor was held from the Archbishop of York by the canons of St John's College, Beverley. By the late 12th century and into the 13th century, Bishop Burton was frequently visited by the Archbishop. The first known documentary reference to the deer park was in 1323 when a break in and theft of deer was noted. A survey of the manor in 1388 specifically mentioned the park's ditch and also referred to the felling of oaks within the park. At this time, summer pasturing for cattle within the park was said to be worth `46 shillings 8 pence yearly clear besides the sustenance for the game'. A pasture called New Park was also mentioned. However, the manor house was described as ruinous and is believed to have fallen into disuse. In 1542, the Archbishop's manors of Bishop Burton, Beverley and Skidby were surrendered to the Crown. Bishop Burton then passed through several peoples' hands by lease or grant until it was sold to Sir William Gee in 1603, in whose family it remained until 1780. It is not known when deer ceased to be kept in the park, although its boundary was known as Keeper's Walk in the mid-16th century. By the 19th century this boundary was known as The Reins. The monument forms the northern edge of the original deer park which is believed to have originally extended south eastwards to the northern side of Bishop Burton village, now marked by the York Road. The boundary typically survives as a broad flat-topped bank some 7m wide and between 1m and 1.5m high. On its outside, the far side from the college buildings, there is a partly infilled ditch up to 4m wide and 0.5m deep, whilst on the inside there are traces of a shallower ditch 2m-3m wide which is mainly infilled so that it is now typically no more than 0.2m deep. Other deer parks in the region are believed to have been defined by fence-topped banks with no deliberately constructed ditches. Elsewhere in the country, parks were often defined by deer leaps: banks with deep inner ditches designed to allow wild deer to jump into the park, but not to leave. The park boundary at Bishop Burton is not like this, with its main ditch on the outside. In fact the profile of the bank is not symmetrical either, with a steep outer and gentle inner face. This suggests that it was functionally very different to a normal deer leap and that the deep outer ditch and steep sided bank was designed to deter poachers. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are all modern fences, styles and gates; the modern structures forming horse jumps across the monument and all road and path surfaces along with associated modern timberwork; however the ground beneath all of these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number: 34699

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Neave, S, Medieval Parks of East Yorkshire, (1991), 22
Letter from Susan Neave, (2000)

End of official listing