Good surviving section of engineered trackway believed to have originally been constructed for Rievaulx Abbey in the late C12 or C13. This well preserved 400m long section of trod (a particularly characteristic style of track way for the North York Moors) retains a good range of features.
Reasons for Designation
Kirby Bank Trod is designated for the following principal reasons:
* Period: believed to have originally been constructed in the late C12 or C13 by Rievaulx Abbey. The reuse of the trod in the post-medieval period in connection with the alum and stone quarrying industries adds to the importance.
* Diversity of features: this trod is not merely a path of flagstones, but is set on an embankment to even out the hill slope and also retains other related features interpreted as guide posts or waymarkers.
* Survival: the trod is well preserved with a nearly continuous run of paving stones over 400m up the hillside.
Trod is a term that is used to refer to stone flagged paths which at one time formed an extensive network across the North York Moors. These paths are characterised by being formed from single lines of flagstones typically around 50cm across and 13cm thick, exhibiting marked evidence of wear down their centreline. They fall into a number of broad types including long distance routes (mostly extending north-south across the moors); routes running parallel to the River Esk or linking a series of farms along a dale; and shorter trods within settlements or serving individual buildings such as churches, mills or farms. The long distance trods, especially those crossing open moorland, are thought to have been created as packhorse routes and would have required a significant investment to construct as many run for significant distances far from sources of suitable flagstones. The dating of trods is uncertain. Some are thought to be medieval, built by abbeys to exploit better their far-flung land holdings. However, recent research has suggested that some at least may be C17-C18, funded by lucrative trade in sea fish and smuggled goods. A number of trods are known as Pannierways: Panniermen were the middlemen between fishermen and fishmongers, in fact sometimes fishmonger and pannierman were interchangeable terms. There is documentary evidence for the regular transport of fish from harbours such as Staithes and Whitby to York and beyond via packhorse up until the arrival of the railways in the mid C19. Research has also suggested that around 80% of the flagstones forming trods on the North York Moors have been lost since the late C19 through being buried beneath modern roads and pavements, beneath a build-up of vegetation and soil, and through being robbed for use elsewhere (Evans, 2008). Although some flagged packhorse routes are known elsewhere nationally, the network across the North York Moors was particularly extensive and is now seen as being particularly characteristic of the area.
Kirby Bank Trod, of which the monument forms a part, is thought to be medieval in origin and forms part of the Pannierman Way which runs from Kirkby southwards up Kirby Bank and then over Cold Moor to Chop Gate in Bilsdale. The route is believed to have been constructed for packhorses by Rievaulx Abbey, linking the abbey church in Bilsdale to its grange at Normanby and other landholdings including Kirkby, Redcar and along the River Tees. Normanby Grange was established in the late C12 and was both a source of fresh water fish as well as a stud for breeding packhorses. Rievaulx is known to have exploited the Tees extensively for both fish and salt, and there is evidence that the abbey invested in infrastructure to exploit its extensive landholdings, particularly in the late C12 and C13. The constructional style of the trod, with the gradient of the hill evened out with the construction of an embankment, is consistent with the medieval road built to link the Cistercian houses of Strata Florida and Abbey Cwmhir in mid Wales (Fleming, 2009).
In the post-medieval period, Kirby Bank Trod remained as a useful route for transporting materials, but mainly from the upper slopes of Kirby Bank itself. Alum shale was exploited in the C17 by John Harperley of Kirkby whose will of 1714 refers to the 'late alum works in Kirby Bank'. The site of the alum house (where the shale was processed to produce alum) lies just over 100m to the east of the trod and is noted on an estate plan of the area dated 1854 and has recently been identified via geophysical surveying. This separation from the trod supports the interpretation that the trod predated the alum house, otherwise, logically, it would have led more directly to the alum house. Kirby Bank was also exploited for building stone from at least the mid C18, with sledge-ways extending down the hillside from the quarries, converging on the trod. These sledge-ways are also depicted on the 1854 plan. The way that the slegeways converge on the trod also supports the interpretation that it was a pre-existing route. The form of the trod would not have allowed its use as a sledgeway itself, yet had it not already existed, sledges would have sensibly been taken further down the hill before being off loaded. From 1842, Kirby Bank was also exploited for jet, mainly supplying the jet jewellery industry in Whitby. The trod remains in use as a public footpath: its stones have been re-exposed in recent years by a local history society which now maintains the path which remains a public bridleway.
The known surviving, flagged section forming Kirby Bank Trod, which forms the monument, extends from a point just east of The Warren, southwards uphill for just over 400m to a gateway onto the open moorland of the upper part of Kirby Bank. The route continues southwards up the hill, but appears to have been disturbed by later sledgeways and quarrying activity and so this southwards continuation of the route is not included in the scheduling. From the north end of the flagged section of Kirby Bank Trod, the route continues downhill (northwards) as a meandering hollow way, with a new, modern trackway to the west. Again the route of the trod beyond the known extent of the flagged path is not included in the scheduling.
The 400m long section of trod that forms the scheduled monument retains a nearly continuous run of exposed flagstones. A couple of sections have been left buried to prevent erosion by tractors and there is a section where a culvert cuts through the line of the trod; these sections are also included in the scheduling. For most of the length, the flagged path forming the trod lies on the western edge of a distinct, broad bank which stands up to 1.5m high and about 4-6m wide. This bank is included in the scheduled monument and varies in height, serving to even out the gradient up the hill, and raises the trod above periodically boggy ground to either side. At intervals along the trod there are small, low, stone pillars that are interpreted as guide posts or waymarkers, forming at least six waymarked points along the 0.4km long section. The three most southerly (and uphill) waymarks are formed by pairs of stones, one on each side of the trod, the other waymarks are single stones, one of which has been reused as an Ordnance Survey bench marker. Immediately adjacent to the trod on its west side, about 240m south of The Warren and lower down the hill from the waymarks with paired stones, there is a raised platform formed by one substantial and one smaller slab of horizontally placed rock. This has been interpreted as a loading platform and may be related to the C17 alum house which was sited just over 100m to the east of the monument, at about the same distance up the hill. Downhill from this possible loading bay there are at least a couple of sections where the paving of the trod is widened with the addition of parallel flagstones, generally on the west side. These have been proposed as being former passing places; however they do not appear to be wide enough for two packhorses to pass, so their interpretation is uncertain.
Extent of Scheduling: the scheduling is focused on the exposed flagstones of the trod and the raised bank upon which the trod and associated features sit. The area thus forms a strip 10m wide, including a 2m margin around the archaeological feature for the support and protection of the monument, extending between the gateway onto the unenclosed moor of Kirby Bank northwards to just east of The Warren. Although the more extensive archaeological remains related to quarrying, mining and the alum works are clearly related to the later use of the trod, these remains are not so clearly understood and are not included in the monument. Modern fence, sign and gateposts are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath is included.