Roxby Hill manorial complex and associated ridge and furrow earthworks


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


Ordnance survey map of Roxby Hill manorial complex and associated ridge and furrow earthworks
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1021270 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 18-Oct-2019 at 04:44:54.


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

North Yorkshire
Ryedale (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SE 82692 82927

Reasons for Designation

Medieval manorial settlements, comprising small groups of houses with associated gardens, yards and paddocks, supported communities devoted primarily to agriculture, and acted as the foci for manorial administration. Although the sites of many of these settlements have been occupied continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were abandoned at some time during the medieval and post-medieval periods, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries. The reasons for desertion were varied but often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land- use such as enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of widespread epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their abandonment, these settlements are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits, providing information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming economy, and on the structure and changing fortunes of manorial communities.

Roxby Hill is a particularly good example of a deserted medieval manorial settlement at the edge of a surviving village. The earthwork features survive in good condition and are set within a distinct agricultural landscape that is virtually free from later development. In addition, good documentary evidence and a detailed survey combine to make this an exceptional site for studying the archaeological evidence that could shed important light on manorial settlements.


The monument includes the site of the medieval manorial complex on Roxby Hill, sometimes referred to as Roxby Hall. This site lies immediately to the west of Thornton-le-Dale, on the south side of the A170 Pickering to Scarborough road. The area around the manorial complex is surrounded by evidence of medieval cultivation in the form of ridge and furrow earthworks (the remains of the strips worked by individual peasants within medieval communal fields). To the west and east sides of the manor house site, these cultivation strips fall within the area of protection.

The manor house was probably constructed in the late 13th century, on a new site west of the settlements in the valley at Thornton-le-Dale, on land hitherto under ridge and furrow cultivation. Its nucleus comprised a trapezoid embanked enclosure subdivided internally, and with the manor house situated towards the southern end, approached by a steep hollow way to its south.

The manorial complex occupies most of the eastern half of the monument. The first manor house was constructed in the late 13th century and this was replaced by a new complex between the 1540s and the 1560s, at the instigation of Sir Richard Cholmley. This consisted of a major refurbishment involving the construction of a substantial mansion with a hall, a gallery, and enough accommodation for a large family and 50 or 60 servants. There was also a formal replanning of the grounds to incorporate boundary modifications, an imposing new west entrance and probably a garden with terraces and embanked garths.

Further additions were subsequently made to the house and its wings which encroached on the adjacent garths. These later alterations may be reasonably attributed to Henry Cholmley (probably between 1586 and 1598) and also probably involved the resiting of the entrance to the east side of the compound, and perhaps the setting out of additional garden features. By Henry's death in 1615/16 Roxby Hall had not been used as a family residence for over a decade and some dismantling may have already commenced. By around 1632, the front wings, the east back wing, part of the main block and an outbuilding had already been demolished. By the 1650s the house was almost totally destroyed. The site reverted to pasture and has remained so ever since, apart from a short-lived possible attempt to cultivate or drain a small area of the North Close.

The substantial earthworks clearly indicate the position of the later manor house, together with its ranges of outbuildings and enclosures. Surrounding the manor house site are a series of embanked compounds, evidently enclosed garden areas. Circuit boundary banks and hollow ways also indicate both the extent of the complex and its access means, although these altered over time. The manorial complex was constructed on an existing area of ridge and furrow earthworks running north to south along the higher ground, traces of which can still be detected to the east of the complex where it forms several strips. Beyond the western boundaries of the manorial complex the ground slopes away to the west showing a pronounced pattern of ridge and furrow running down the slope.

Taken together, the monument includes the earthworks of a well-preserved manorial complex of several periods, together with associated structures and enclosures. It lies within a distinct landscape of ridge and furrow that both preceded and serviced its early phases. The outstanding earthworks are supported by good documentary evidence and an excellent estate map of around 1632.

The monument is enclosed by hedges and fences that 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Swan, V G, Mackay, A, 'From Cornwall to Caithness: Some Aspects of British Field Arch.' in Roxby Hill, Thornton Dale: the lost village of Roxby?, (1989), 183-195
Swan, V G, Mackay, A, 'From Cornwall to Caithness: Some Aspects of British Field Arch.' in Roxby Hill, Thornton Dale: the lost village of Roxby?, (1989), 183-195


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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].