Medieval deer park pale surrounding Fountains Park


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Medieval deer park pale surrounding Fountains Park
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Jul-2019 at 21:28:54.


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

North Yorkshire
Harrogate (District Authority)
Markington with Wallerthwaite
North Yorkshire
Harrogate (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 26412 65899, SE 27032 66851, SE 27121 67908, SE 27333 67754, SE 27545 67504

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 medieval deer park pale surrounding Fountains Park survives well and significant evidence of its original form and method of construction will be preserved. It is unusual for such a significant proportion of a monastic park pale to survive and important evidence of the development and any changes in extent and functions of the park as whole will survive. The park was a major component of the Fountains Abbey landscape outside the immediate precinct of the abbey and the monument offers scope for the study of monastic parks and the wider monastic exploitation of the medieval landscape.


The monument includes standing and buried remains of most of the park pale, or boundary, surrounding Fountains Park deer park and is located in undulating ground to the south west of Fountains Abbey. The monument includes most of the original circuit of the pale and two sections of earthwork which are either remains of internal divisions or evidence for expansion or contraction of the park over the years. The monument is divided into five separate areas of protection; one containing the pale on the western and south western sides of the park, one adjacent to Foal Cote Farm containing a section of the pale and an internal division, one lying to the west of Ninevah containing a section of the eastern park pale, one in Abbey Fall Wood and along Fountains Lane containing the pale and an internal division and the fifth area alongside Fountains Lane containing the park pale. A further section of the pale survives to the west of How Hill but because of its close association with a medieval chapel site and other remains this is the subject of a separate scheduling. Fountains Park was a hunting park created for Fountains Abbey. The northern part of the park was initially part of a wider tract of land granted to the abbey by Robert de Sartis in 1134. This was the first endowment given to the abbey after its foundation and enabled it to become a viable concern. When the park was laid out it included some existing abbey holdings including part of a grange, at Haddockstanes, which was incorporated into the southern part of the park. The park was completed by 1458 and was one the major elements in the monastic landscape. It extended over some 212 acres, and is known from documentary evidence to have included 91 acres of woodland, the 16 acre great pond, areas of mixed agriculture as well as areas of chase. Whilst functioning primarily as a deer park the area would also have served to supply the abbey with a constant and sustainable supply of food and wood throughout the year. After the dissolution of Fountains Abbey in 1539 the park was bought by the Gresham family who maintained it as a hunting estate. By the 19th century the park was part of the Studley Royal estate of the Marquis of Ripon. The medieval park was enclosed by a substantial park pale with a total circuit of approximately 6km, which, where possible, appears to have used the natural shape of the land. Today the pale survives best where it has been incorporated into modern field boundaries. The park pale varied in construction along its length reflecting both the local shape of the land and the immediate land use within the park. The pale included a stone wall which in places stood on an earth and stone built bank up to 4m wide. There is no currently identifiable evidence of entrances into the park, however these are likely to have been located near Park House and at Foal Cote Farm. The sections of pale which no longer survive have been obscured or destroyed by later agricultural and road construction activities. The first area of the monument extends south west from near Park House at NGR SE26626788 where it forms the southern side of the Fountains to Sawley road. For 850m along this length the pale survives as an earth bank with occasional sections of medieval masonry up to 0.5m high. At NGR SE26106737 the pale departs from the line of the road and extends south east as far as Wainforth Wood forming a field boundary where it survives as a low wall on a bank 3m wide. After the pale enters the wood it takes on a different form. For the next 1250m it extends first along a stream bank then meanders along the south east facing steep slope of the valley containing the Dean Lake. For most of its length through the wood, the pale survives as a wall up to 1m in height with a consistently level top formed by broad stones placed across it. Towards the northern end the cross stones are interspersed with regularly placed upright stones thereby creating a crenellated effect. This is the result of the wall being repaired in the late 19th century to form a level and visually neat finish as a landscape feature offering a pleasing aspect from the nearby fishing lake constructed in the 1890s by the Marquis of Ripon. There have been a number of small land slips in the past which have dislodged and obscured the wall. From the end of Bull Covert Wood at NGR SE26106629 the pale extends south east for 550m then north east for 750m as far as NGR SE26806639. Along this stretch the pale survives as wall up to 2m in height. The lower part is medieval in origin and the upper part of the wall has been repaired in the post-monastic period. There is then a gap for a field gate of 20m where the pale survives below ground and then continues again for a further 77m. Along this last stretch there is a bank 3m wide supporting ruined medieval walling up to 4 courses in height. At this point footings for the wall were wider and these can be seen in the ground surface along the line of the bank. The second area of the monument lies to the east of Foal Cote Farm. The pale extends eastward from the northern part of the farm complex along the northern side of the farm track for 500m as far as NGR SE27256700. It survives as a low bank with medieval stonework visible on the surface of the ground. To the north east of Foal Cote Farm there is an earthwork bank up to 5m wide and 0.3m high extending north east for 200m then south east for 100m to join the park pale at NGR SE27406686 thus enclosing Coney Hill. This bank is included as it is interpreted as marking a sub-division within the medieval park. As the word coney is often associated with the management of rabbits it is suggested that Coney Hill was enclosed as a rabbit warren within the park. No remains of constructed warrens or associated features are currently known to survive and Coney Hill is therefore not included in the monument. In the third area of the monument the southern end of the surviving pale starts at NGR SE27606736 and extends northwards for 260m. The bulk of this section of pale is composed of an earth and stone bank up to 4m wide and 1m high. There are stone footings for the original medieval wall surviving along the length and in places the wall stands two courses high. The northern 50m takes a different form where it survives as a double bank with a central ditch with footings for the wall surviving 5m to the east. The banks are up to 5m wide and 0.5m high and the ditch is 3m wide. The fourth area is located 60m to the north at the edge of Abbey Fall Wood. It continues the form of a double bank and ditch with a wall of medieval origin extending parallel to the bank lying up to 6m to the east. The wall stands up to 1.5m in height and has been rebuilt over the years and now forms the boundary to the wood. After 120m the bank and ditch curves to the west to form an internal division within the park whilst the wall continues northward. The bank and ditch follows the base of the hill for 170m and then extends south west for 170m as far as NGR SE27176760. For the south western stretch it takes a different form and survives as a terrace up to 4m wide cut into the base of the slope. It is not currently known what happened to this feature beyond this point. The park pale with the upstanding wall continues north as far as the northern edge of the wood after which it survives as a wall up to 0.5m high on the roadside with a stone bank 3m to the west as far as the bridge at NGR SE27226789. The fifth area of the monument extends for 230m along the southern side of Fountains Lane between the bridge and the south side of the grounds of Skell View Cottages. The pale survives as a bank 3m wide extending immediately on the inside of the field boundary. These five sections of surviving pale would originally have been linked. Changes in land use in the post-medieval period have, however, reduced and obscured the line of the pale in places. Only those sections with surviving identifiable remains are currently included. All fences and gates and the surface of roads and tracks are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 3 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.

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Books and journals
Coppack, G, Fountains Abbey, (1993), 78-98
Emerick, K, Fountains Park Watching Brief, (1991)
Reeves, C, Pleasures and Pastimes in Medieval England, (1995), 89-122
Roebuck, J, Davison, , 'L'espace Cistercien' in Protecting the Cistercian Landscape: a View from N Yorkshire, (1994), 319-326


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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