Prehistoric linear boundary and associated features including a medieval monastic grange, north, east and south east of Moorsome Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric linear boundary and associated features including a medieval monastic grange, north, east and south east of Moorsome Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Scarborough (District Authority)
North Yorkshire
Scarborough (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SE 91378 86617, SE 91426 85384, SE 91663 84834

Reasons for Designation

Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances varying between less than 1km to over 10km. They survive as earthworks or as linear features visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs or as a combination of both. The evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrate that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used later. The scale of many linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were constructed by large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries in the landscape; their impressive scale displaying the corporate prestige of their builders. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of those groups who constructed them. Linear earthworks are of considerable importance for the analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age; all well preserved examples will normally merit statutory protection.

Round barrows are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving examples recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring across most of Britain, including the Wessex area where it is often possible to classify them more closely, for example as bowl or bell barrows. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. A monastic grange was a farm owned and run by a monastic community and independent of the secular manorial system of communal agriculture and servile labour. The function of granges was to provide food and raw materials for consumption within the parent monastic house itself, and also to provide surpluses for sale for profit. The first monastic granges appeared in the 12th century but they continued to be constructed and used until the Dissolution. This system of agriculture was pioneered by the Cistercian order but was soon imitated by other orders. Some granges were worked by resident lay-brothers (secular workers) of the order but others were staffed by non-resident labourers. The majority of granges practised a mixed economy but some were specialist in their function. Five types of grange are known: agrarian farms, bercaries (sheep farms), vaccaries (cattle ranches), horse studs and industrial complexes. A monastery might have more than one grange and the wealthiest houses had many. Frequently a grange was established on lands immediately adjacent to the monastery, this being known as the home grange. Other granges, however, could be found wherever the monastic site held lands. On occasion these could be located at some considerable distance from the parent monastery. Granges are broadly comparable with contemporary secular farms although the wealth of the parent house was frequently reflected in the size of the grange and the layout and architectural embellishment of the buildings. Additionally, because of their monastic connection, granges tend to be much better documented than their secular counterparts. No region was without monastic granges. The exact number of sites which originally existed is not precisely known but can be estimated, on the basis of numbers of monastic sites, at several thousand. Of these, however, only a small percentage can be accurately located on the ground today. Of this group of identifiable sites, continued intensive use of many has destroyed much of the evidence of archaeological remains. In view of the importance of granges to medieval rural and monastic life, all sites exhibiting good archaeological survival are identified as nationally important. The eastern Tabular Hills is an area which has many networks of prehistoric land boundaries. These are thought to represent systems of territorial land division which were constructed to augment natural divisions of the landscape by river valleys and watersheds. The Dalby Forest and Scamridge areas have a particular concentration which is thought to have originated in the Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age, earlier than most other prehistoric boundary systems on the Tabular Hills. The networks within this concentration, and many of their component boundaries, are notably complex and are of considerable importance for understanding the development of later prehistoric society in eastern Yorkshire. Despite limited disturbance, the prehistoric linear boundary and associated features including a medieval monastic grange, north, east and south east of Moorsome Farm have survived well. Significant information will be preserved about the date, original form and the nature and duration of use of the prehistoric boundary and its associated features. Stratigraphic relationships will survive between the different components of the prehistoric boundary and between the prehistoric boundary and the associated features and these will provide evidence for the sequence of construction and development of the monument. Evidence for the contemporary environment and economy will be preserved within the lower fills of the various ditches. Evidence for earlier land use will be preserved in the old ground surface beneath the different banks and barrow mounds. The form of the northern end of the prehistoric boundary is not paralleled by any other boundary in the country. It demonstrates the diversity and complexity of prehistoric land division and the significance that prehistoric boundaries continued to hold in the landscape during later periods. The earthworks and foundations of the monastic grange have not been disturbed and are in a very good state of preservation. The archaeological deposits within the buildings and enclosures will contain information which will further our understanding of monastic sheep farming on the Tabular Hills. The well at the bottom of Wy Dale will contain waterlogged deposits which will also preserve important environmental evidence. The grange is located in an area which is known to have had two other specialised sheep farms belonging to different monastic establishments. The association with these other granges will provide insight into the relationship between the different monastic houses and demonstrates the intensity of sheep farming and its importance to the rural economy of the Tabular Hills during the medieval period.


The monument includes upstanding earthworks of a prehistoric linear boundary which is situated on the southern slopes of the Tabular Hills. Also included are three round barrows, part of a linear boundary considered to be of medieval origin, two hollow ways, a medieval monastic grange and the site of a post-medieval rabbit trap, all of which are situated adjacent to or within the prehistoric boundary. The monument is protected in three separate areas. The prehistoric boundary runs approximately north to south, following a slightly sinuous course from the top of the steep slope into Troutsdale and along the eastern edge of Wy Dale. At its northern end, the boundary has six steep-sided V-shaped ditches which run between seven approximately parallel earthen banks, and terminates as the slope into Troutsdale starts to increase. At the terminal it has an overall width of 40m. The ditches are up to 1.3m deep, increasing to 2m as they start to run down the slope into Troutsdale. Formerly, the six ditches and seven banks ran for 1.15km, but over the years ploughing has levelled the southern 330m and encroached upon the western edge of the next 460m to the north so that up to five ditches and banks have been infilled or levelled. On the eastern side of the boundary towards the northern end one ditch and two banks have also been partly levelled or infilled as a result of ploughing and other agricultural activities. However, all these ditches survive as subsoil features which are visible as soil marks on aerial photographs. For a 400m length starting close to the northern end there is a further series of up to 20 parallel ditches and banks which have been added to the western side of the main ditches and banks and are considered to be later in date. These are smaller in both width and depth than the other ditches and banks, and they decrease in size towards their western edge. Most follow a straighter course than the six larger ditches, particularly those nearest the large ditches and banks. The southern 90m of these additional ditches and banks have been ploughed level and parts of the western edge have also been levelled by modern agricultural activities, but they are visible on aerial photographs. The additional ditches give the earthworks an overall maximum width of 125m in the centre of this 400m section. The easternmost additional ditch, and the bank to the west of it, originally continued for at least a further 395m to the south, giving the earthworks an overall maximum width of 75m. For its southern 1.28km, the prehistoric boundary has two ditches which run between three parallel banks of earth and stone. These ditches have a more rounded profile than those further to the north and they survive up to 1.4m deep. At the southern end the ditches gradually shallow and taper towards each other, terminating shortly before Wy Dale starts to become a steeper and more pronounced valley. These earthworks are 20m to 22m wide. Over the years ploughing has levelled the banks and infilled the ditches in places, so that the surviving earthworks are only intermittently visible. Originally, in the 160m length between this section of the boundary and the multiple-ditch northern section, the number of ditches and banks gradually reduced in number from north to south. The earthworks have also been levelled and infilled by ploughing here, although the lines of the outer banks were preserved in former field boundaries which appear on Ordnance Survey maps up to the 1970s. The three round barrows are situated at the northern end of the prehistoric boundary, within or immediately adjacent to the additional smaller ditches and banks on the western edge. The northern barrow is situated in a prominent position overlooking Troutsdale. It has an earthen mound which is 14m in diameter and stands up to 1.4m high. In the centre of the mound there is a hollow which is the result of partial excavation in the past. The central barrow is situated 95m to the south west and the southern barrow is situated 110m to the south west of the central barrow. Formerly these two barrows each had earthen mounds which measured 24m and 10m in diameter respectively. However, modern agricultural activities have resulted in the levelling of the mounds so that only the base of each is visible as a slight earthwork, no more than 0.1m high. The rabbit trap has been identified from the 1848 edition of the Ordnance Survey maps. It was originally constructed against the south eastern edge of the central round barrow, but over the years it has collapsed and become levelled so that it is no longer visible as an earthwork, although its location can be seen as a soil mark on aerial photographs. The two hollow ways each run approximately east to west across the prehistoric boundary towards its northern end, cutting through all the banks. The northern hollow way is 10m wide and up to 0.8m deep, but it has been partly obscured by a modern surfaced trackway which follows the same course and at its western end, by a surfaced car park. It is thought to have been established in the medieval period, initially as a route between the monastic settlements at Lastingham and Hackness. The southern hollow way lies about 210m to the south east. It is 15m wide and more than 1.5m deep at its eastern end, but its southern side has been eroded further by its use as a modern field access track. The segment of medieval linear boundary is 450m long and runs parallel to the prehistoric boundary on its western side, turning towards the north west at its northern end, which is about 75m south of the southern hollow way. Originally the boundary had a ditch running between two banks. However, the banks have been levelled and the ditch infilled as a result of ploughing in the past and they no longer survive as earthworks, although the ditch is visible as a soil mark on aerial photographs. Towards the southern end of the monument, the medieval monastic grange is appended to the western edge of the prehistoric boundary. The northern and southern edges of the grange are marked by enclosing banks which run across the valley and are 65m apart; the western edge is overlain by post-medieval field boundaries within which the fields have been ploughed and have no visible remains of the grange. Within the enclosing banks of the grange there is a regular rectilinear arrangement of at least four sub-rectangular buildings and small enclosures. These survive as a series of low stony banks marking wall lines and level platforms terraced into the eastern valley slope. The banks are 2m wide and 0.3m-0.5m high. The largest of the buildings measures 32m by 3m internally and has an entrance in the southern narrow end. At the south side of the enclosed area there is a well which survives as a shallow sub-circular depression about 8m in diameter. The grange is thought to have been a specialised sheep farm which was owned by Yedingham Priory. The monument forms part of a network of prehistoric linear boundaries which is surrounded by many other prehistoric monuments, particularly burials. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are: the surfaces of the public car park and forestry access track at the northern end of the monument, the surfaces of farm access tracks crossing and alongside the prehistoric boundary, all fence posts along modern field boundaries crossing and running along the monument, all field boundary walls crossing and running alongside the monument, the wooden shed situated on the prehistoric boundary in the woodland to the south east of Moorsome Farm and the telegraph pole situated within the monastic grange; however, the ground beneath all these features 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:
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Books and journals
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 47-51
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 50-51
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 47-49
Spratt, D A, Harrison, B J D, The North York Moors Landscape Heritage, (1989), 88-94
Spratt, D A, Harrison, B J D, The North York Moors Landscape Heritage, (1989), 88-94
Drummond, B G, Spratt, D A, 'Ryedale Historian' in Cockmoor Dykes and rabbit warrening, , Vol. 12, (1984), 22-30
Moorhouse, S, 'The Archaeology of Rural Monasteries' in Monastic Estates their Composition and Development, , Vol. BAR 203, (1989), 29-81
Rutter, J G, 'Transactions of the Scarborough and District Archaeological Soc' in A Survey Of Linear Earthworks And Associated Enclosures In NE, (1965), 4-13
Rutter, J G, 'Transactions of the Scarborough and District Archaeological Soc' in A Survey Of Linear Earthworks And Associated Enclosures In NE, (1965), 4-13
Rutter, J G, 'Transactions of the Scarborough and District Archaeological Soc' in A Survey Of Linear Earthworks And Associated Enclosures In NE, , Vol. 2, no.10, (1967), 23-24
ANY 181/28, (1984)
Pacitto, A L, AM107, (1983)
SF 1677/373, (1979)
Title: 1st Edition 6" Ordnance Survey sheet 92 Source Date: 1848 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 2nd Edition 25" Ordnance Survey sheet 92/7 Source Date: 1910 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


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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