Part of a warrening enclosure 470m south east of High Rigg Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020677

Date first listed: 24-Apr-2002


Ordnance survey map of Part of a warrening enclosure 470m south east of High Rigg Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Ryedale (District Authority)

Parish: Thornton-le-Dale


National Grid Reference: SE 86756 88491


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.

Most traces of post-medieval warrening have been swept away by later land-use changes. Today those remains in Dalby and the adjacent forests are virtually all that are known to survive in north eastern England. Together with surviving farm warren features in Wykeham Forest, the farm and extensive warrens in Dalby form nationally rare survivals of the range of post-medieval warrening remains. Despite the apparent destruction of the rest of the High Rigg Farm Warren enclosure, the remaining parts retain some important features; notably the surviving enclosure bank and dry stone walling, entranceway and two well-preserved rabbit types. It will provide important information on the size, nature, management and development of 17th to 19th century warrens.


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


The monument includes parts of the southern and western sides of a warrening enclosure situated on level ground overlooking Seive Dale, in a mature beech and conifer plantation towards the southern fringe of the Tabular Hills. The monument also includes two rabbit types or traps built into the southern side of the warrening enclosure. The southern side of the enclosure includes a 140m stretch of earthen bank, 2.5m wide, surmounted by a dry stone wall up to 0.2m high, except where the bank and wall are interupted by an entranceway 4m wide, 70m from the north eastern corner of the enclosure. Built into the northern aspect of the bank are two rabbit types. The first is located approximately 20m from the eastern end of the bank. It consists of a cylindrical stone-lined pit, 1.5m in diameter and 0.75m deep. The second type is located in the south western angle of the enclosure. It consists of a cylindrical stone-lined pit, 2.5m wide and 0.5m deep. The bottom of the type is obscured by rubble and dead wood. The western side of the enclosure includes a 30m stretch of 2.5m wide earthen bank surmounted by a dry stone wall up to 0.2m high. The monument represents a surviving part of High Rigg Farm Warren. This farm warren enclosed a sub-rectangular area measuring 1.3km east to west and 650m north to south. The warren, described as having been lately erected in 1866, included a cottage, barn, granary, cart house, stable and a foldyard with open sheds; the site of these buildings is today occupied by the present High Rigg Farm. Warrening at High Rigg Farm is thought to have continued until the end of the 19th century.

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: 34605

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Dalby Forest Survey, (1996)
Dalby Forest Survey, (1996)
Dalby Forest Survey, (1996)
Harris, A, Spratt, D A, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in The Rabbit Warrens of the Tabular Hills, North Yorkshire, (1991), 177-206

End of official listing