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Low Caythorpe deserted medieval village, manorial complex and fishponds

A Scheduled Monument in Rudston, East Riding of Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.0935 / 54°5'36"N

Longitude: -0.2936 / 0°17'37"W

OS Eastings: 511695.0173

OS Northings: 467747.7445

OS Grid: TA116677

Mapcode National: GBR VPD3.7B

Mapcode Global: WHHF5.GCDP

Entry Name: Low Caythorpe deserted medieval village, manorial complex and fishponds

Scheduled Date: 14 January 1974

Last Amended: 11 March 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013618

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26512

County: East Riding of Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Rudston

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Riding of Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Rudston All Saints

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes the earthwork remains of the deserted medieval village
and associated manorial complex of Low Caythorpe, situated to the south of the
B1253, between the modern villages of Boynton and Rudston. It lies in two
separate areas.
The earthwork remains of the village include the remnants of house platforms,
crofts, trackways and quarries, together with remains of original ridge and
furrow field systems along the southern edge of the site. These demonstrate
that the village had a main east-west alignment. A central trackway, which
remains clearly visible as a hollow way, had a series of rectangular buildings
immediately adjacent to it. Behind these buildings are the earthwork remains
of some additional buildings and also the enclosures associated with each (the
crofts). To the south and west of these, ridge and furrow earthworks
demonstrate the position and layout of the fields associated with the village;
these earthworks survive less well than those of the village settlement
To the immediate east of the main village earthworks a large rectangular
moated and embanked enclosure approximately 77m square, now partly overlain by
the modern farm complex, was the focus of the medieval manor of Low Caythorpe,
which, together with associated fishponds, all survive as earthworks in very
good condition. The fact that, for much of its history, the village of Low
Caythorpe belonged to the estates of St Mary's, York, raises the possibility
that this was the site of a moated monastic grange, although there is not
sufficient evidence surviving to confirm this. The south east quadrant of this
enclosure is occupied by a large complex of interlocking fishponds, of which
around seven ponds of different size have been identified.
To the north of the fishponds lie the earthwork remains of a series of
buildings. These were partly excavated between 1962 and 1966 and proved to
have a complex history. Here a building, originally constructed in the late
Saxon period, was later rebuilt in stone in the 12th century, and again in
the 14th century. Following another alteration, it was eventually abandoned in
the 16th century.
The village of Low Caythorpe is mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086 and
for much of its history belonged to the estates of St Mary's, York. In 1296
there were around ten houses together with a watermill and a windmill.
In 1513, the estate passed to the Constable family who erected a large house
at the eastern end of the present-day farmyard, and it is to this period that
the garden and fishpond complex are thought to date.
In 1517, Sir Thomas Fairfax enforced enclosure, converting 300 acres of arable
land to pasture, by evicting 20 residents and destroying five houses.
After this time, it seems the village was depopulated and given over to
pasture for sheep. Final enclosure took place in 1762.
All modern post and wire fencing, animal feed dispensers, water pipes and
troughs and modern farm buildings are excluded from the scheduling, although
the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The village, comprising a small group of houses, gardens, yards, streets,
paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community
devoted primarily to agriculture, was a significant component of the rural
landscape in most areas of medieval England, much as it is today. Villages
provided some services to the local community and acted as the main focal
point of ecclesiastical, and often of manorial, administration within each
parish. Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied
continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were
abandoned throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, particularly
during the 14th and 15th centuries. As a result over 2000 deserted medieval
villages are recorded nationally. 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 villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain
well-preserved archaeological deposits. Because they are a common and
long-lived monument type in most parts of England, they provide important
information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming
economy between the regions and through time.

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England and consist of wide,
water-filled ditches enclosing one or more islands of dry ground on which
domestic or religious buildings stood. The peak period during which moated
sites were built was between about 1250 and 1350, and although concentrated in
central and eastern parts of England, are found scattered widely throughout
England and exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They
form a significant class of medieval monument and are important for the
understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. It
is not unusual for them to be found in association with deserted medieval
villages, the two together constituting an integral unit exemplifying the
social structure and economic functioning of medieval England.
Fishponds were relatively common in medieval times reflecting the importance
of fish as a constant and sustainable food source, although few well preserved
groups of ponds like that at Low Caythorpe survive. They were largely
associated with the wealthy sectors of society and provide an insight into
medieval fish farming and also the economy of the associated manorial complex.
The medieval remains at Low Caythorpe survive in excellent condition and
include a considerable proportion of the original features of the settlement,
including crofts and house platforms along street lines, a moated manor house
and its fishponds. Partial excavation has confirmed that the site has a long
and complex history of occupation and development. Historical data also
suggest the possibility that this was the site of a monastic grange.
There are good historical data documenting the origin of the village from at
least the time of the Norman Conquest until the eventual enclosure of the
site in 1517 with the consequent eviction of existing tenants.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dennison, E, Archaeological survey at Low Caythorpe, Rudston., (1990)
Coppack, G, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in Low Caythorpe, East Yorkshire - The Manor Site, , Vol. 46, (1974), 34-41
Application for a farm survey, Humberside Archaeology Unit, Low Caythorpe: farm presentation grant, (1990)
Application for a farm survey, Humberside Archaeology Unit, Low Caythorpe: farm presentation grant, (1990)
Bastow, M.E., AM107, (1987)
Bastow, M.E., AM107, (1989)
Coppack, G, AM7, (1973)
Humberside SMR, Sites and Monuments Records Sheet, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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