Mount Misery and Bakers Warren, 18th century rabbit warrens


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020056

Date first listed: 24-Jan-2001


Ordnance survey map of Mount Misery and Bakers Warren, 18th century rabbit warrens
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: Brompton

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: Broxa-cum-Troutsdale

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: Hackness

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: Hutton Buscel

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: Wykeham


National Grid Reference: SE 93385 89491, SE 93495 89352, SE 93723 88989, SE 94035 89212, SE 94500 89745, SE 94676 89214, SE 94822 89310, SE 95110 89942, SE 95167 89718


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

Reasons for Designation

A warren is an area of land set aside for the breeding and management of rabbits or hares in order to provide a constant supply of fresh meat and skins. Although the hare is an indigenous species, the tradition of warren construction and use dates from the 12th century, following the introduction of rabbits into England from the continent. Warrens usually contain a number of purpose-built breeding places known as pillow mounds or rabbit buries, which were intended to centralise the colony and make catching the animals easier, whether using nets, ferrets or dogs. The mounds vary in design although rarely exceeding 0.7m in height. Earlier monuments such as burial mounds, boundary features and mottes were sometimes reused as breeding places. The mounds are usually surrounded by ditches and contain underlying channels or are situated on sloping ground to facilitate drainage. The interior of the mound may also contain nesting places constructed of stone slabs or cut into the underlying subsoil or bedrock. A typical warren may contain between one and forty pillow mounds or rabbit buries and occupy an area up to c.600ha. Many warrens were enclosed by a bank, hedge or wall intended to contain and protect the stock. Other features associated with the warren include vermin traps (usually a dead-fall mechanism within a small tunnel), and more rarely traps for the warren stock (known in Yorkshire as `types') which could contain the animals unharmed and allow for selective culling. Larger warrens might include living quarters for the warrener who kept charge of the site, sometimes surrounded by an enclosed garden and outbuildings. Early warrens were mostly associated with the higher levels of society; however, they gradually spread in popularity so that by the 16th and 17th centuries they were a common feature on most manors and estates throughout the country. Warrens continued in use until fairly recent times, finally declining in the face of 19th and 20th century changes in agricultural practice, and the onset of myxomatosis. Warrens are found in all parts of England, the earliest examples lying in the southern part of the country. Approximately 1,000 - 2,000 examples are known nationally with concentrations in upland areas, on heathland and in coastal zones. The profits from a successfully managed warren could, however, be considerable and many areas in lowland England were set aside for warrens at the expense of agricultural land. Although relatively common, warrens are important for their associations with other classes of monument, including various forms of settlement, deer parks, field systems and fishponds. They may also provide evidence of the economy of both secular and ecclesiastical estates. All well preserved medieval examples are considered worthy of protection. A sample of well preserved sites of later date will also merit protection.

The boundary wall and enclosure walls of Mount Misery and Bakers Warren are the best preserved examples in the north east of Yorkshire. They are a rare survival of a common agricultural activity on the north facing slope of the Tabular Hills in the 18th century. They will provide important information on the size, nature, management and development of 18th century warrens nationally. Evidence for earlier land use will survive beneath both the boundary and enclosure walls.


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


The monument includes parts of the 18th century rabbit warrens known as Mount Misery and Bakers Warren, situated on the steep north facing slope of the Tabular Hills. The monument is split into nine discrete areas to include some well preserved upstanding sections of the boundary wall and internal enclosure walls. Further intermittent upstanding remains and buried remains survive outside these areas, but are not included in the scheduling. Both of the warrens have a boundary wall, enclosing an area of about 50ha in the case of Mount Misery and about 90ha in the case Bakers Warren. The boundary wall of both warrens is 1m high, 2m wide and of dry stone wall construction. Its internal face is vertical, limiting the loss of rabbits from the warren. Its external face is sloped, allowing rabbits to enter the warren. In places the top of the wall is capped with a layer of turf which would have held down a layer of heather or gorse projecting out from the vertical, internal face discouraging the loss of rabbits from the warren. Coppiced hazel and ash trees are also found on the boundary walls; the branches of these were used as a winter feed. An internal ditch, about 2m wide and surviving to 0.5m deep was an additional deterent to rabbit loss. `Types' (pits for the harvesting of rabbits) were built into the internal face of the boundary wall and are typically thicker at this point. The types are circular pits of 1m diameter and 1m deep. They are of dry stone construction with the upper courses corbelled out to prevent rabbits jumping out of the pit. A `muce' (a wooden tunnel) ran through the wall and over the pit, controlling access to and from the warren for the rabbits. In the part of the muce over the pit, tilting boards were placed which when triggered would allow rabbits to fall into the pit. Enclosures of between 0.5ha and 3.75ha, (areas of protection 04, 08 and 09), built within the warren, were used as feeding grounds for the rabbits. These were used from about 1760 to grow a crop of turnips, a feed crop for the rabbit population. The enclosure walls are of the same construction as the boundary wall, however the vertical face is on the external face to prevent rabbit entry into the enclosures. Access into the enclosure for the rabbits was provided along a muce over types built into the wall of the enclosures as in the boundary wall. A 2m wide ditch is present on the external side of the enclosure wall. The consideration of establishing a warren in the parish of Wykeham is recorded in 1731 as a means of improving the value of farms. However, these rabbit warrens were established in the late 18th century when a number of enclosure acts were passed for the two parishes of Wykeham and Hutton Buscel in which the warrens at that time were situated. They continued in use throughout the 19th century, being noted in census records up to and including 1888. All post and wire fencing and the surfaces of metalled tracks are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 32077

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Marshall, , The Rural Economy of Yorkshire, (1788), 266
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Yorkshire: North Riding, (1968), 498
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Yorkshire: North Riding, (1968), 441
Harris, A, Spratt, D A, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in The Rabbit Warrens of the Tabular Hills, North Yorkshire, , Vol. 63, (1991), 177-206

End of official listing