Ancient Monuments

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Monastic grange belonging to Rievaulx Abbey at Laskill Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Hawnby, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.309 / 54°18'32"N

Longitude: -1.137 / 1°8'13"W

OS Eastings: 456245.276009

OS Northings: 490723.855504

OS Grid: SE562907

Mapcode National: GBR NLHM.M3

Mapcode Global: WHD86.HYSH

Entry Name: Monastic grange belonging to Rievaulx Abbey at Laskill Farm

Scheduled Date: 20 May 1963

Last Amended: 27 October 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010340

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25558

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Hawnby

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Upper Ryedale

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument is a medieval grange which has been identified as including a
woolhouse belonging to Rievaulx Abbey, a large Cistercian house 5.5km to the
south which was founded in AD 1131.

There are few remains showing above ground level and much of the site is under
modern farm buildings and yards. The major building remains exposed in situ
include a line of three plain, round column bases, each 0.96m in diameter. One
of these lies within the floor of the north range of the farmyard buildings
and the other two lie outside to the west where they are incorporated to a
height of 1.5m in a modern terrace. Wall foundations discovered in 1949
indicate that these bases were for a row of three columns, forming a 4-bay
vaulted undercroft internally about 18.3m by 8.8m, which supported a chamber
above. There are many reused fragments of medieval masonry including cross and
column pieces incorporated into the modern farm buildings. In the field to
the west there are earthworks indicating the footings of enclosures and
buildings extending over an area 22m by 35m.

The grange has been dated from architectural fragments reused in the modern
farm to the 12th century. The large undercroft itself dates to c.1250. The
grange was an impressive size, reflecting the prestige of the abbey with which
it was associated. By 1275 it was processing the fleeces of over 14,000 sheep
and was still flourishing in 1325 when Edward II is thought to have stayed at
the site in the course of a hunting expedition. The grange was involved in the
management and exploitation of the land for sheep ranching and, by
demonstrating the status of its abbey, illustrates the impact of monasticism
on the medieval landscape.

Excluded from the scheduling are all post-medieval farm buildings, the
surfaces of the yards and drives, all fencing and modern walls, although the
ground beneath these features is included.

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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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.

Although there is little visible above ground, this site contains well
preserved remains in earthwork form as well as the buried remains of a major
building. The buried column bases indicate that up to a metre of buried
archaeological deposits extend over part of the site.

The grange was an important element in the landscape supporting and processing
large scale sheep farming and offers important insights into the working of
the medieval monastic economy.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Black, D W, Pattison, I R, Houses of the North York Moors, (1977), 15
Mc Donnell, J, 'Ryedale Historian' in Thr Rievaulx Abbey Woolhouse remains at Laskill, (1989), 51-52
Mc Donnell, J, 'Ryedale Historian' in Thr Rievaulx Abbey Woolhouse remains at Laskill, (1989), 51-2

Source: Historic England

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