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Scurff Hall moated site

A Scheduled Monument in Newland, North Yorkshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.7291 / 53°43'44"N

Longitude: -0.9594 / 0°57'33"W

OS Eastings: 468753.34597

OS Northings: 426361.135947

OS Grid: SE687263

Mapcode National: GBR PTR9.3Y

Mapcode Global: WHFDB.7JFJ

Entry Name: Scurff Hall moated site

Scheduled Date: 22 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017485

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30117

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Newland

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Drax St Peter and St Paul

Church of England Diocese: York

Details

The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of a medieval moated
manor house set within a larger moated enclosure. The southern half of the
enclosure retains ridge and furrow earthworks and is included in the
scheduling, while the earthworks in the northern half have been levelled by
ploughing and are not included. Scurff Hall is located 700m south of the River
Ouse, 1.2km due east of Drax church.
The area was assarted (reclaimed from the fen and legally claimed) before 1286
by the del Scurth family, who were free tenants of Drax. The outer moat is
considered to date to this time and to have been part of the original drainage
works. By 1364 Scurff was described as a vill, the smallest medieval
administrative unit. This could be applied to a dispersed settlement like
Scurff as well as to nucleated villages. The inner moat was dated by
excavation in the early 1960s to the late 14th to early 15th century. On its
moated island stood a medieval hall which was demolished in the early 18th
century when the rear of the present hall was built. Around this time the
farm buildings to the east of the inner moated island were built in successive
phases and the inner moat was largely filled in with spoil from drainage
ditches on the farm. In the mid-19th century the hall was remodelled and
enlarged and the south and east sides of the inner moated island were
partially landscaped.
The inner moated island is about 75m east-west and 55m north-south and forms a
raised platform above the general surrounding land surface. The medieval hall
is believed to have stood to the east of the present house and in this area a
stony surface lies about 30cm below the current ground level. The western
half of the moat ditch survives as a visible earthwork. The eastern arm of the
moat was infilled during the 18th century and was partly built over with farm
buildings, but it will survive as an infilled feature. Part of the southern
arm was modified to form a ha ha in the 19th century.
The outer moat originally enclosed an irregular area of nearly 8ha and can be
divided into three distinct sections. The south east and east sides are formed
by part of the curving course of the Willow Row Drain. This is thought to be
an old course of the River Ayre and flows northwards to meet the Ouse. The
south western and western sides are formed by a ditch with a marked bank up to
1.3m high on the eastern (inner) side. This ditch is in three straight
sections forming an elongated zig-zag and is followed by the parish boundary
between Drax and Newland. The northern side, closing the circuit, ran in an
approximately straight line ENE between the parish boundary and Willow Row
Drain. This northern moat arm, which is not included in the scheduling,
has been infilled and is marked by a footpath across a large field. At the
junction between the Willow Row Drain and the ditch marking the parish
boundary, there is a circular water filled depression nearly 10m across. The
area between the inner and outer moats within the area of scheduling is
crossed by pronounced, 11m wide ridge and furrow running east-west. Further
ridge and furrow existed in the field to the north but as this has been
levelled by modern ploughing, it is not included in the scheduling. All
the ridge and furrow respects both moats, and thus post dates their
construction.
All fencing, buildings (including Scurff Hall), walling and paving, are
excluded from the sheduling, although the ground beneath these features is
included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches,
often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more
islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some
cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites
served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the
provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical
military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was
between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in
central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built
throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered 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. Many examples
provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.

Scurff provides good evidence of the medieval practice of assarting waste-
land. Medieval archaeological deposits will survive throughout the inner
island, both under the present buildings and in open areas. Remains will
include building foundations, rubbish pits, and evidence of both small scale
industrial activity and gardening. The inner moat will retain evidence of one
or more causeways or bridges spanning the moat. It will also contain finds
like bone and pottery as well as environmental information, all of which
will preserve important information about the medieval life of the area.
Further important archaeological remains will survive beyond the inner island,
especially within and under the banks beside the outer moat. The ridge and
furrow is also an important and increasingly rare survival.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Le Patourel, H.E J, 'Monograph Series No 5' in The Moated Sites of Yorkshire, , Vol. 5, (1973), 127
Wilson, K, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in Survey and Excavations With The Area Of Scurff Hall Farm, , Vol. 41, (1966), 670-686

Source: Historic England

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