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Uckerby medieval village and open field system

A Scheduled Monument in Uckerby, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.4149 / 54°24'53"N

Longitude: -1.6236 / 1°37'25"W

OS Eastings: 424522.264451

OS Northings: 502223.299797

OS Grid: NZ245022

Mapcode National: GBR KK3D.85

Mapcode Global: WHC6G.193B

Entry Name: Uckerby medieval village and open field system

Scheduled Date: 23 February 1978

Last Amended: 29 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017691

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29503

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Uckerby

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Easby with Brompton on Swale and Bolton on Swale

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


The monument includes the remains of the medieval village of Uckerby and a
section of the surrounding field system.
It is divided into two separate areas and located on a low hill with the main
settlement remains occupying the top of the hill and terraces cut into the
slope. Further remains lie to the east, beyond the modern road. The medieval
village was concentrated on either side of a wide central street. The outline
of this street still survives as a broad lane 20m wide running west to east
through the site. A metalled track now runs along one side of it. To the south
of the street the village remains include a series of broad rectangular
enclosures, the short ends of which front onto the street. These enclosures,
known as tofts, were occupied by a house fronting onto the street with the
rear of the toft used for horticulture or stock keeping. The tofts are up to
40m wide and 60m deep and occupy terraces on the crest of the hill and also
extend and are cut into the slope down to the east. To the rear of the tofts,
a trackway 4m wide and 2m in depth formed a back lane. This lane extends into
the field to the south west where further tofts lie to the south. To the south
and south west of the tofts are a series of large enclosures or yards defined
by earthen banks up to 2m wide and 1m high.
In the field to the north of the medieval street there is a series of tofts
located on regular terraces cut into the slope. Further enclosures are alos
located to the north and west of these tofts.
In the field at the bottom of the slope to the east of the main settlement are
a series of earthworks. These take the form of large depressions, building
platforms, trackways and leats. It is thought that some of these features may
be former fishponds associated with the village.
Extensive remains of the medieval field system are preserved as prominent
earthworks and lie to the south and north of the village and to the north of
the fishponds. Medieval agriculture is characterised by ridge and furrow which
here survives in broad swathes up to 150m in length with the ridges being up
to 6m wide and 1m high. There are separate blocks of ridge and furrow
extending in different directions with intervening headlands, balks and
Little is known of the history of Uckerby. It is first recorded in documents
in 1301. The size and type of the village suggests that it was a flourishing
agricultural settlement in the 13th and 14th centuries. However, in common
with other medieval settlements in England the bulk of the village became
deserted, probably after the Black Death in 1349 and in connection with raids
by the Scots in the 14th century and the enclosure of land for sheep rearing
in the 15th and 16th centuries. The building known as Uckerby Grange at the
west of the medieval street represents the only continuous occupation since
the medieval period.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling, comprising all fences,
walls, gates, the ruined barn in the eastern field, the telegraph poles, the
brick water tank near the main road and the surfaces of all roads, paths and
tracks, although the ground beneath these features is included.
Uckerby House, its driveway and immediate gardens are totally excluded from
the scheduling.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains
needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been
divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive
mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided
into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have
gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more.
The Yorkshire Dales local region is broadly an extension of the lowlands into
the hill mass of the Pennines, but increasing environmental constraints have
ensured that each dale has developed particular and often wholly local
characteristics. The villages and hamlets on the valley side terraces of the
lower and middle dales appear to be of medieval foundation, while the
surrounding farmstead sites vary greatly in date, from early medieval to 19th

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre
of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and
woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but when they survive as earthworks
their most distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks, platforms
on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and
small enclosed paddocks. They frequently included the parish church within
their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system most villages included
one or more manorial centres which may also survive as visible remains as well
as below ground deposits. In the central province of England, villages were
the most distinctive aspect of medieval life, and their archaeological remains
are one of the most important sources of understanding about rural life in the
five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest.
Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on
large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into
strips (known as lands) which were allocated to individual tenants. The
cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs pulled by oxen teams produced
long, wide ridges, and the resultant "ridge and furrow" where it survives is
the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Indivdual
strips or lands were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal
headlands at the plough turning-points and lateral grass balks. Furlongs were
in turn grouped into the large open fields. Well-preserved ridge and furrow,
especially in its original context adjacent to village earthworks, is both an
important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive
contribution to the character of the historic landscape. It is usually now
covered by the hedges or walls of subsequent field enclosure.
The remains of the medieval settlement at Uckerby survive well. Prominent
earthworks of the village are preserved and its original form and development
can be identified. The fishponds are also well preserved and offer important
scope for understanding the nature of their use and the relationship with the
wider medieval community. The associated field system survives well and
important information about the form and management of medieval agricultural
practices is preserved. Taken together the surviving elements of the medieval
village of Uckerby offer important scope for understanding the history,
development and ultimate decline of a community through the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Grifiths, M, Associates, , Shrunken and Shifted Villages of the Lower Tees Valley, (1991)
Grifiths, M, Associates, , Shrunken and Shifted Villages of the Lower Tees Valley, (1991)

Source: Historic England

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