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Manfield shrunken medieval village and associated field system

A Scheduled Monument in Manfield, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.513 / 54°30'46"N

Longitude: -1.659 / 1°39'32"W

OS Eastings: 422177.377086

OS Northings: 513130.119977

OS Grid: NZ221131

Mapcode National: GBR JJV7.MZ

Mapcode Global: WHC5V.HT7M

Entry Name: Manfield shrunken medieval village and associated field system

Scheduled Date: 30 July 1986

Last Amended: 24 October 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017802

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29502

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Manfield

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Manfield All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


The monument includes the substantial earthwork remains of the medieval
village of Manfield and associated ridge and furrow field systems. The
monument is divided into six separate areas of protection.
The medieval village was concentrated around a large irregular green, much of
which still survives as an open space known as Town Green. Remains of the
medieval settlement are visible as earthworks in the fields within and around
the current village. Beyond the main settlement were enclosures and open strip
fields, known as the town fields, which in turn gave way to woods, pasture and
larger arable fields. Of these, remains of the ridge and furrow strip fields
and enclosures close to the settlement survive as earthworks and are included
in the scheduling. Also located within the town fields and included in the
scheduling, are two medieval moated sites.
The surviving earthworks and modern street patterns indicate that the medieval
settlement formed three distinct areas. The first area is to the south of the
green, in the field north west of the vicarage. Here are the remains of
a series of square platforms and enclosures, formerly the site of medieval
houses and stockyards. To the rear of these properties was a back lane still
in use and now known as Bowling Green Lane. The second area surrounds the
church and is characterised by irregularly laid out building platforms and
enclosures. Here the surviving settlement earthworks lie in the fields
immediately south and west of the church and in a separate field north of the
church, adjacent to Abbey Villa. The earthworks display the layout of building
platforms, connecting tracks and ditches. Also surviving are the footings of
individual structures which can be identified on some of the building
platforms. These two areas of medieval settlement were separated by a trackway
extending southwards, again still in use as and now known as Grunton Lane. The
third area of the medieval settlement lies to the north of the main street,
and included in the scheduling are the field to the rear of the properties
fronting Town Green and the field east of Abbey Villa. This part of the
medieval settlement is substantially different to the other two. The
earthworks in the western field demonstrate a regular layout of rectangular
enclosures known as tofts and crofts which are typical of a planned medieval
settlement. The tofts enclosed dwellings which would have fronted onto the
green, with a narrow back lane separating them from the crofts to the rear in
which domestic horticulture or stock keeping took place. A similar, though
less regular pattern survives in the field to the north east of the church. A
further element of the medieval settlement lies in the fields to the east and
west of Manor Farm where two moated sites survive as earthworks. They are
located slightly beyond the edge of the medieval settlement and lie within the
medieval field system. The moats each comprise a ditch up to 3m wide
surrounding a raised platform upon which would have stood a house. Moated
sites were usually occupied by high status families, and at Manfield these
moats are evidence of wealthy citizens moving to a more prestigious dwelling
in a prominent location away from the main settlement.
The medieval field system associated with Manfield would originally have
surrounded the settlement. However, only parts now survive as earthworks:
these being located to the south of the village and adjacent to the tofts and
crofts to the north. Medieval agriculture is characterised by ridge and furrow
field systems and a large complex of these survives as prominent earthworks in
the fields to the east and south east of Manor Farm. Here there is a complex
of broad swathes of ridge and furrow extending for up to 250m in length, with
individual ridges being up to 10m wide and 2m high. There are separate blocks
of ridge and furrow extending in different directions with intervening
headlands, balks and tracks.
In the fields to the west of Manor Farm, as well as to the south of the
properties along Bowling Green Lane and in the field to the west of the
village hall, are remains of further ridge and furrow, and also of large
enclosures and terraces defined by earthen banks. Small areas of well defined
ridge and furrow also survive adjacent to the tofts and crofts to the north.
Manfield is first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. The plan of the
village and the nature of the medieval earthworks indicate that the village
originally comprised an irregular green to the west of the church, with
settlement along the north side of what is now Bowling Green Lane and in the
area to the south of the church. This open area was encroached upon in the
medieval period and it is thought that the earthworks in the fields
immediately south of the current main street are remains of this.
The area of regular planned settlement north of the green may be a deliberate
relocation of the village centre in the later medieval period. This shifting
of villages, often only short distances, is a phenomenon known elsewhere in
England in the medieval period. A document of 1301, known as the Lay Subsidy
Roll, coupled with evidence for 13th and 14th century rebuilding of the
church, the construction of the high status moats, and large and complex
field systems, suggests that the village was a flourishing agricultural
settlement in the 13th and early 14th centuries. This period of success may
have led to a rise in population and subsequent encroachment onto the village
green and to the development of the tofts and crofts to the north. However the
population went into decline and much of the village became deserted, although
is not known when or exactly why this occurred. It is likely that a
combination of the Black Death in 1349, raids by the Scots in the 14th century
and the enclosure of arable fields for sheep-rearing in the 15th and 16th
centuries was responsible.
All walls, fences, gates, sheds, drinking troughs, horse jumps, telegraph
poles and stantions 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 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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

At Manfield, in addition to the main core of the settlement, two outlying
moated sites also survive. Moated sites consist of wide ditches, often or
seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands of
dry land on which stood domestic or religious buildings. The majority of
moated sites served as prestigious aristocratic or seigneurial residences with
the provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical
military defence. The peak period for the construction of moats was between
about 1250 and 1350 but they were built throughout the medieval period and
exhibit a high level of diversity in form and size.
In addition to the medieval settlement, remains of the associated agricultural
system also survive. The most common form of field system was known as ridge
and furrow. This took the form of parallel rounded ridges separated by
furrows which provided rich, well drained land for growing crops. Over large
areas the system tended to adopt a characteristic `s' shape to accommodate the
turning circle of a plough team. In small areas, where use of a plough team
was impractical, ridge and furrow would be dug by hand. Fields near to a
settlement tended to be operated using the open field strip system. Villagers
worked strips of land distributed throughout the fields to ensure that each
had an equal amount of the variable land quality available, the whole system
being regulated by a complex system of rules enforced by the community as a
The medieval settlement at Manfield survives well. Prominent earthworks
are preserved in fields in and around the village and the original form and
development of the village core can be identified. The two moated sites are
well preserved and offer important scope for understanding the nature of the
moats themselves and the relationship with the wider medieval community. The
associated field system is well preserved, particularly to the south of the
village, and this holds important information about the form and management of
the medieval agricultural practices. Taken together, the surviving elements of
the medieval village of Manfield held important scope for understanding the
history, development and ultimate decline of a successful community through
the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Grifiths, M, Associates, , Shrunken and Shifted Villages of the Lower Tees Valley, (1991)
White, R F, Manfield Village Archaeological Appraisal, (1984)
White, R F, Manfield Village Archaeological Appraisal, (1984)

Source: Historic England

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