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Medieval monastic grange and site of medieval settlement at Ninevah

A Scheduled Monument in Markington with Wallerthwaite, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.1028 / 54°6'10"N

Longitude: -1.5767 / 1°34'35"W

OS Eastings: 427779.1779

OS Northings: 467514.927096

OS Grid: SE277675

Mapcode National: GBR KPF0.G0

Mapcode Global: WHC80.R4DK

Entry Name: Medieval monastic grange and site of medieval settlement at Ninevah

Scheduled Date: 14 July 1958

Last Amended: 19 March 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018864

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31340

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Markington with Wallerthwaite

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire


The monument includes the remains of the medieval settlement of Herleshow and
a later monastic grange belonging to Fountains Abbey at Ninevah Farm. It is
located on undulating land 7km south of Fountains Abbey and occupies two
fields north and south of Ninevah and the small paddock to the east.
The village of Herleshow was part of an estate passed as an original gift to
the new Cistercian monastery founded at Fountains in 1132, and confirmed by
King Stephen in 1135. The village was at some point deserted, probably
forcibly, in favour of the establishment of one of the home granges attached
to the abbey. This may have occurred in the mid-13th century as a grant dated
1259 refers to a dispute between the Abbott of Fountains and one William de
Merkynfeld concerning the enclosure of the grange at Herleshow. At this time a
substantial bank and ditch was built around the village site and the field to
the south which was incorporated into the grange complex enclosure with
associated structures. The grange continued in use as an extramural farm up to
the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539.
The settlement of Herleshow to the north of Ninevah includes two raised and
level enclosures divided by a hollow way extending to the north. To the west
of the hollow way there are remains of at least three rectangular buildings
surviving as low earthworks along the northern side of the enclosure. A
further two building platforms are located in the enclosure to the east. To
the south of these enclosures is a marshy area draining to the east with
evidence of some stone channelling which would have managed water flow. South
of this area, in the field east of Ninevah, are the remains of small
enclosures and yards and at least two small rectangular buildings. To the west
of the outer bank and ditch are wide cultivation terraces and to the east are
faint traces of ridge and furrow. These areas are thought to be remnants of
the village field system and are included in the scheduling.
Some of the upstanding earthworks within the bank and ditch are remnants of
individual houses with associated yards. The marshy area was, during the
lifetime of the village, probably the site of a pond which was consolidated
when the grange was built to provide a managed supply of water. The
construction of the grange involved the destruction of some of the village and
the erection of some new buildings, the main focus again being to the north.
The most prominent earthwork associated with the grange is the enclosing bank
and ditch. They survive on the western side as a low bank 0.3m high with a
partly infilled outer ditch 0.5m wide. Along the northern and western sides of
the field the earthworks are more substantial with the bank being up to 6m
wide and 2m high. There is an original entrance through the northern bank
where the hollow way originally continued north as a track to the abbey,
although no traces of this now remain outside the scheduling. The enclosing
earthwork was constructed to form a stock control as well as to define the
area both physically and symbolically. The enclosure of the north field
implies that at some point it was used as pasture.
The remains in the field to the south of Ninevah include along the western
side a substantial bank and external ditch surviving to the west of the top of
slope. The bank is up to 1m high and 6m wide and the ditch is 0.6m deep and
5.5m wide. At the southern end the bank and ditch turns and extends eastward
down the slope to enclose the southern end of a hollow. At the eastern side
the bank and ditch no longer survive but their line is preserved in the field
boundary which extends north at the top of the rise east of the hollow. At the
bottom of the hollow is a waterlogged area which, in the medieval period, may
have been a managed water source. At the south western end of the field are at
least two building platforms built on terraces cut into the sheltered lower
slope. These are the remains of buildings associated with animal husbandry
offering, for example, shelter or storage of fodder. There are also traces of
field boundaries in parts of the field. It is unclear whether these building
remains and boundaries are part of the village or the later grange.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these include all
fences, gates, walls, and electricity poles, although the ground beneath is

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

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.

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
dispersals, 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 Vale of York local region is a rich agricultural lowland dominated by a
dense pattern of villages and hamlets founded in the Middle Ages, about one in
four of which have since been deserted. It contains low and very low densities
of dispersed settlements, some of which are isolated medieval moated manor
houses. The landscape was formally dominated by communal townfields which were
mainly enclosed in the 18th century.
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 survive also as visible remains as well
as below ground deposits. In the central province of England, villages were
the most distinctive aspect of rural 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 which were cultivated with heavy ploughs
pulled by oxen-teams which produced long, wide ridges. The resultant 'ridge
and furrow where it survives is the most obvious physical indication of the
open field system. 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 contibution to the
character of the historic landscape.
Remains of the monastic grange and the earlier village at Ninevah survive
well. Significant information about the original form and function of the
village and the grange will be preserved. The monument preserves evidence of
the change of landuse in the medieval period from settlement to agriculture
and as such offers important scope for the study of the impact of the
monasteries on the economic and social life of the wider region.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beresford, M, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in The Lost Villages Of Yorkshire, (1953), 234-236
Beresford, M, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in The Lost Villages Of Yorkshire, (1953), 234-236

Source: Historic England

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