Winton medieval settlement including fishponds and field system immediately south of Winton House


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020042

Date first listed: 20-Jul-2001


Ordnance survey map of Winton medieval settlement including fishponds and field system immediately south of Winton House
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This copy shows the entry on 17-Dec-2018 at 18:59:55.


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

County: North Yorkshire

District: Hambleton (District Authority)

Parish: Winton, Stank and Hallikeld

National Grid Reference: SE 41035 96473


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 occupied, hall.

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. In the northern province of England, villages were the most distinctive aspect of rural 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 landes) 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 landes 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. In addition to field systems, other medieval agricultural activities were practised such as the use of fishponds. These were artificial pools of slow moving water in which fish were bred and stored in order to provide a constant supply of fresh fish for consumption and trade. Fishponds were maintained by a water management system to regulate water flow. In addition to the ponds there would be buildings for use by fishermen for storing equipment or fish curing. The tradition of constructing and using fishponds in England began during the medieval period and peaked in the 12th century. Large and complex systems were often associated with the wealthy sectors of society such as monastic institutions and the aristocracy. Small and simple examples are commonly found at villages throughout England. The medieval settlement of Winton retains important archaeological remains, both earthwork and buried. The extensive and well-preserved archaeological remains of the fishponds will preserve significant evidence of the form and nature of fish exploitation in the medieval period. In addition, evidence of the social and economic history of the settlement will survive.


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


The monument includes earthwork and buried remains of a medieval settlement at Winton, including remains of buildings, a group of fishponds and parts of the surrounding medieval agricultural system. It lies at the junction of a wide shallow dry valley and a smaller valley lying to the west. It is located in undulating ground to the west of the Hambleton Hills. The earliest mention of Winton is in the Domesday Book in 1086 when it was part of the lands of the Bishopric of the Palatinate of Durham. The bishops held the manor until the 14th century. After this it passed to the de Sigston family who had held the tenancy of much of the manor of Winton and by the 1330s had apparently acquired the whole manor. The remains of the buildings at Winton take the form of a row of house platforms within individual enclosures. This is typical of a planned settlement introduced into the region after the Harrying of the North in 1069-70, when a rebellion by the native population against the Norman invasion was suppressed with great ferocity causing widespread devastation throughout the land. The settlement is dominated by a set of substantial fishponds. These are thought to have been associated with one of the high status residences in the area, possibly Sigston Castle, which is located 1.5km to the south. The castle was built in the early 14th century by John de Sigston about the time the family acquired the manor of Winton. It is not currently known when or why the settlement declined and was abandoned. The current settlement at Winton is thought to originate as an 18th to 19th century wealthy family house and farm. The medieval settlement took the form of a north to south aligned row of buildings extending for 150m along the west facing side of the main valley. The buildings stood within a set of regular enclosures known as tofts. These had larger enclosures called crofts extending to the rear, the whole being known as a tenement. The tofts contained dwellings and other buildings in a small enclosure or yard with the croft to the rear being used for domestic horticulture and stock keeping. Remains of these buildings survive as a series of earthworks forming rectangular building platforms, measuring up to 10m by 6m. The boundaries of the tofts and crofts survive as low earthen banks up to 0.5m high. This form of settlement has a very regular layout typical of the planned medieval settlement. The fishponds are located in the small side valley in the western part of the monument. There are a series of three linked ponds and a fourth isolated pond all built along the south side of the beck at different levels to allow the easy flow of water from one pond to the next. The isolated pond is the largest and best preserved and lies at the head of the sequence of ponds. It is an elongated shape measuring 35m in length and 17m wide at the east end and 5m wide at the west. It was partly built into the natural slope so that the southern side is formed by the slope. The remaining sides were formed by the construction of a substantial bank. At the eastern end the bank is 2m in height and 5m wide. Water was fed into the pond, either through a sluice in the bank at the western end or by wooden channels known as launders which could bring water from further upstream. The set of linked ponds lies 30m to the east. The western pair measures 18m and 12m in length respectively and are 5m wide. The easternmost pond is more substantial and measures 20m in length by 16m wide. The ponds were separated by earthen banks, which would have supported a system of sluices to control the flow of water. To the south of the fishponds, on the north facing slope of the field, are earthwork remains of cultivation terraces, field boundaries and building platforms. On the valley floor to the east, to the south west of the tenements, is a block of linear, parallel earthworks known as ridge and furrow, which is part of the surviving medieval agricultural system. It is defined on its eastern and southern sides by a substantial ditch up to 1.5m deep and 4m wide. This served to drain the land and keep the area to the west free from flooding. To the south of this, on the valley floor, is an area of irregular earthworks including ditches to manage water and further earthworks whose original function is currently not fully understood. On the west facing slope of the valley there are remains of at least three building platforms. The field in the north west corner of the monument contains a large block of ridge and furrow with further building platforms at the eastern end. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are all fences, gates, telegraph poles, modern water and drainage equipment and the surface of tracks; the ground beneath all these features is, however, 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: 34825

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County407
ANY 289/05-7 363 /08 CUC ARL 91-2,
ANY 289/05-7 363/08 CUC ARL 91-2,

End of official listing