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Kilgram medieval monastic grange

A Scheduled Monument in East Witton, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2664 / 54°15'58"N

Longitude: -1.7062 / 1°42'22"W

OS Eastings: 419235.052827

OS Northings: 485671.703733

OS Grid: SE192856

Mapcode National: GBR JMJ3.FD

Mapcode Global: WHC75.R1Q5

Entry Name: Kilgram medieval monastic grange

Scheduled Date: 13 January 1989

Last Amended: 29 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015993

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29516

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: East Witton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the medieval
monastic grange at Kilgram. The monument is located on a bend of the River Ure
in lower Wensleydale 2km east of the ruined abbey of Jervaulx. The remains at
Kilgram mainly represent the agricultural elements of the grange and it
is thought that the site of most of the principal buildings of the grange lie
beneath the modern farmhouse.
The farmhouse and part of the monument occupy a raised river terrace which
is defined by a steep slope to the north with a more gradual gradient on the
other sides. This raised area is thought to be the location of the precinct,
an enclosed area which contained the core buildings of the grange, including
the chapel and domestic quarters and sometimes associated stores, workshops
and other ancillary structures. Slight earthworks to the east of the farmhouse
represent the remains of some of these buildings and further remains may
survive as buried features. Excavations at similar grange sites in Yorkshire
have revealed substantial timber-framed buildings on cobbled footings within
the precinct. A wide hollow way which curves eastward around the south of the
raised ground marks the outer extent of the precinct at the south. Beyond the
precinct, the surviving earthworks include a series of banks, ditches,
irrigation channels and trackways defining a system of enclosures. Some of
these enclosures contain blocks of ridge and furrow, the characteristic form
of medieval arable cultivation. Other enclosures would have been used for
stock husbandry. At the east of the monument are a series of rectangular
depressions which have been interpreted as fishponds, used for the cultivation
of fish for food. In common with other granges in England there would have
been agricultural buildings associated with the various functions of the
grange distributed throughout the area. The substantial banks defining
the enclosures would also have served as a form of flood control protecting
the low lying land from the nearby river.
Kilgram Grange was one of a group of monastic granges held by nearby Jervaulx
Abbey. With its close proximity to Jervaulx, Kilgram may have served as one of
the home granges which provided produce for the immediate use of the abbey.
Unlike the more distant granges on the high ground, which were often devoted
to specific functions such as sheep or horse rearing, Kilgram with its
location on the fertile valley floor was likely to be centre of agrarian
production. Kilgram probably dates to the early years of Jervaulx and
remained in use right up to the dissolution in 1539.
The edge of the monument at the north and east sides follows the inside edge
of the flood bank which extends along the edge of the river bank.
All fences, gates, telegraph poles and the surface of the track are excluded
from the scheduling although the ground beneath 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.

The remains of the grange at Kilgram survive well and significant evidence of
the outer buildings and structures within the precinct are likely to survive.
The grange was one of the primary granges of the mother house at Jervaulx and
as such played an important role in the economy and development of the abbey.
The remains at Kilgram will provide important information about the form and
function of granges and their role in the wider economic landscape of
a major monastic house in Yorkshire.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Coppack, G, Abbeys and Priories, (1990), 120-128
Coppack, G, Fountains Abbey, (1993), 78-98
Platt, C, The Monastic Grange in Medieval England, (1969), 212
Moorhouse, S, 'The Archaeology of Rural Monasteries' in Monastic Estates their Composition and Development, , Vol. BAR 203, (1989), 29-83

Source: Historic England

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