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Ousethorpe medieval settlement, moat and mill 310m south of Ousethorpe Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Millington, East Riding of Yorkshire

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Latitude: 53.9507 / 53°57'2"N

Longitude: -0.7622 / 0°45'44"W

OS Eastings: 481328.337522

OS Northings: 451224.02565

OS Grid: SE813512

Mapcode National: GBR RQ3R.SJ

Mapcode Global: WHFC8.8Y8P

Entry Name: Ousethorpe medieval settlement, moat and mill 310m south of Ousethorpe Farm

Scheduled Date: 23 October 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018406

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30146

County: East Riding of Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Millington

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Riding of Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Pocklington and Kilmwick Percy

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of the medieval
settlement of Ousethorpe with an associated moated site and watermill,
located on the west side of the Ridings Beck 310m south of Ousethorpe Farm.
The township of Ousethorpe was recorded in the Domesday Book as Torp when it
was part of Pocklington Manor and held by the Crown. Although it now lies
within Millington parish, it remained part of Pocklington parish until at
least the mid-19th century. A fulling mill (designed to process woollen
cloth) is recorded in the township in 1241. A small scale excavation of the
north western corner of the moated site by W J Varley in 1962 uncovered
evidence of a chalk walled house which remained in use until the 16th century.
The excavation also uncovered Saxon-Norman pottery and a much earlier pit
dating to the Iron Age. Two sets of oblique aerial photographs show the layout
of the village quite clearly.
In overall form, the village appears to be of two row design with the rows
facing each other across a small central green, with the modern road to the
west possibly marking the course of a back lane. At the north end of the
monument from where the fence line diverges from the line of the road, there
is a linear depression marking a trackway which runs eastwards down the hill
to the stream. To the north of this, cut by the modern road, there is a raised
level area which is identified as a building platform. Another slightly
sunken trackway runs southwards from this point towards the moated site. This
is most clearly defined on its eastern side by a series of raised level areas
marking the locations of medieval houses each lying within a strip of ground,
a toft, which extends down the slope to the stream. The boundaries between
these tofts are marked in some cases by narrow banks, and elsewhere by slight
linear depressions. On the east side of the green there is evidence for nine
tofts, each about 20m wide. The earthworks on the west side of the green are
on more level ground and are not as pronounced. About seven toft boundaries,
represented by shallow linear depressions, can be identified. There are also
indications of a trackway on the west side of the green, but the building
platforms appear to be set back by around 10m, with a distinct depression
about 15m across at the east end of one toft. This is considered to be a small
fold yard. At the south end of the green and the eastern row of tofts, there
is a roughly square moated site approximately 120m across with an external
bank on the north, south and west sides. The moated site is built into gently
sloping ground, down to the stream to the east. The western moat arm is about
8m wide and up to 2m deep with a 0.5m high external bank. The north and south
moat arms run down slope and would never have held standing water. The eastern
side of the moated site is formed by a 12m wide level terrace. There is a set
of earthworks in the north western corner of the area enclosed by the moats
about 15m across. These were created by the excavation in 1962 which was not
backfilled, but marks the location of the chalk walled house. Extending from
the south eastern corner of the moated site there are the earthworks of a
small watermill identified as being those of the medieval fulling mill. These
include an overspill channel, the depression for the wheel pit flanked by
mounds standing up to 1.5m high and an embanked tailrace which runs southwards
for over 150m before entering Pocklington Beck. Earthwork mounds around the
wheel pit are considered to be the remains of the mill building which will
have contained the water-powered machinery which was used to beat woollen
cloth in water to thicken and improve it. The earthworks indicate that the
mill wheel would have been powered by a fall of water of at least 1m. Some of
this water could have come from the western moat arm but the course of a leat
can be traced from the north east corner of the moated site, northwards to an
embanked area some 40m by 10m which has since been partly cut into by Ridings
Beck, but would have originally been an artificial millpond. It is thought
that this pond would have been supplied from the stream further north, but
that the remains of the connecting leat have been removed by stream erosion.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are all modern
fences, stiles gates and telegraph poles, although the ground beneath these
features is included.

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 last 1500 years or more. This monument lies in
the Humber-Tees sub-Province of the Central Province which comprises a great
fertile lowland, with many local variations caused by slight differences in
terrain, but generally dominated by market towns, villages and hamlets. The
dispersed farmsteads between these are mainly of post-medieval date, created
by movement out of the villages and onto newly consolidated holdings following
enclosure. Some, however, are more ancient disposals, the result of manors,
granges and other farmsteads being moved out of villages in the Middle Ages;
others have become isolated by the process of village depopulation, which has
had a substantial impact in the sub-Province. The South-east Vale of York
local region is distinguished by the presence of rather lower densities of
nucleated settlements from the rest of the Vale, together with very low and
extremely low densities of medieval moated sites. It also had less woodland in
1086, and contains slightly higher densities of medieval moated sites. These
contrasts are reinforced by the former presence of fen and large areas of
common pasture.

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, generally sited at
the centre of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land,
meadow and woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but where 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 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.
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 moated islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites
served as prestigious aristocratic or seigneurial residences with the
provision of a moat primarily as a status symbol rather than as a means of
defence. The peak period of moat building was between about 1250 and 1350 and
by far the greatest concentration lies in central and eastern England. However
moated sites were built throughout the medieval period and are widely
scattered throughout England, demonstrating a wide diversity of forms and
sizes. They are a significant class of medieval monument and are important for
the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside.
A watermill uses the gravitational force of water to turn a paddled wheel, the
energy thus generated enabling the operation of varying kinds of machinery.
The waterwheel could be set directly into a stream or may be spring fed or use
tidal waters. More usually an artificial channel, a leat, diverts water from
the main watercourse with its flow regulated by the use of sluices and
sometimes also with the use of one or more mill ponds. Depending on the height
that the water is supplied to the wheel, it is described as an overshot,
breast shot or undershot wheel. The spent water is then returned to the stream
via a tailrace. Early medieval mills could have their wheels set either
vertically or horizontally and there were an estimated 6000 mills in existence
by the time of the Domesday Survey, increasing in numbers over the next three
centuries. During the medieval period, mills, usually for corn grinding, were
a status symbol and an important source of income for the lord of the manor.
As a common feature of the medieval landscape, watermills played an important
role in the development of technology and economy. Many of those retaining
significant original features or of particularly early date will merit
The importance of the monument at Ousethorpe is heightened by the survival of
three main components of medieval rural settlement in close proximity to each
other. The earthworks of the moated site, mill and most of the settlement are
well preserved. Further buried archaeological remains, including the footing
of buildings, rubbish pits, and yard surfaces will survive, providing
important information about the life and economy of the medieval settlement.

Source: Historic England


SMR, 8126,

Source: Historic England

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