Medieval settlement and open field system at Kilton Thorpe


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019915

Date first listed: 20-Jul-2001


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement and open field system at Kilton Thorpe
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Feb-2019 at 09:01:12.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Redcar and Cleveland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Lockwood

National Grid Reference: NZ 68978 17643

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 past 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the East Yorkshire sub-Province of the Central Province, an area characterised by marked local terrain variations: from the North York Moors, to the Tabular Hills and Howardian Hills, to the Vale of Pickering and the chalk Wolds, to the Hull Valley and the silt lands of the Humber and Holderness. The sub-Province has the relatively low density of dispersed settlements which marks the Central Province, but this uniformity masks strong settlement contrasts. Some regions were typified by low density dispersed settlement in the Middle Ages, whereas others have achieved a similar pattern through extensive depopulation of medieval villages. The North East Coast local region is for the greater part a sparsely settled rural area, but it has higher concentrations of settlement around creeks and havens, linked to fishing and to the extraction and processing of alum and jet.

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but when 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 small enclosed 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 subdivided 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 or lands were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal headlands at the plough turning-points and lateral grass balks. 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. It is usually now covered by the hedges or walls of subsequent field enclosure. The medieval settlement and open field system at Kilton Thorpe is well- preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. The village is a good example of its type which, taken together with the remains of its open field system, will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of medieval settlement in the region.


The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of Kilton Thorpe medieval settlement, together with part of its associated medieval open field system. The parish of Skelton, of which the township of Kilton was part in the medieval period, lies on the north east fringe of the North York Moors and comprises a block of land running from the moorland edge in the south, across the fertile coastal plain to the coast in the north. The plan of the medieval settlement of Kilton Thorpe is of a type familiar to this part of Cleveland in which parallel lines of tofts or house enclosures with crofts or garden areas to the rear face on to a village green. Beyond the tofts and crofts would lie the communal open fields where the crops were grown. The continued occupation of Kilton Thorpe has meant that only a portion of the medieval settlement is presently visible. Those remains visible include two tofts surviving as grass grown banks and ditches. Within the western toft are the visible earthwork remains of two buildings. The western-most of these buildings measures 20m by 7m and is orientated north west to south east, whilst the other of similar proportions, is orientated east to west. Leading from the two tofts are two hollow trackways, which once would have allowed access from the tofts to the open fields beyond. The remains of these open fields can be clearly seen as ridge and furrow earthworks, arranged in several furlongs to the north and west of the tofts. The township of Kilton is recorded in Domesday Book as comprising eight carucates, four each in Kilton and (Kilton) Thorpe. In 1086 it was held by the King and the Count of Mortain, from whom it passed to the Brus family and by 1309 it was part of the holdings of the Percys of Kildale. The manor was held from the Percys by the de Kilton family until the early 13th century, when it passed to the de Thwengs. In the mid-14th century the manor came into the hands of the Lumleys and then in the late 17th century reverted to the de Thwengs. All fencing is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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: 34582

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Daniels, R, 'Medieval Rural Settlement In North-East England' in Kilton: A survey of a moorland fringe township, , Vol. Res.Rep2, (1990), 33-57
Information board present at site, Tees Archaeology, Kilton Thorpe Medieval Settlement, (1990)
Information board present at site, Tees Archaeology, Kilton Thorpe Medieval Settlement, (1990)

End of official listing