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Latitude: 54.3334 / 54°20'0"N
Longitude: -0.9256 / 0°55'32"W
OS Eastings: 469960.750884
OS Northings: 493619.291831
OS Grid: SE699936
Mapcode National: GBR PLZB.DC
Mapcode Global: WHF9F.RBFT
Entry Name: Rudland Close monastic grange, 750m south east of Saddle Stone
Scheduled Date: 19 June 2000
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1018980
English Heritage Legacy ID: 32659
County: North Yorkshire
Civil Parish: Hutton-le-Hole
Traditional County: Yorkshire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire
Church of England Parish: Lastingham St Mary
Church of England Diocese: York
The monument includes buried and earthwork remains of the core of a monastic
grange at the southern end of Rudland Close. It is located on the west bank of
Rudland Beck towards the head of the valley between Blakey and Hutton Ridges.
The monument is identified as a medieval bercarie, a sheep farm, belonging to
St Mary's Abbey in York which, from the early 12th century at the latest, held
extensive rights within the Lordship of Spaunton, including Rudland Close.
This close, which covers just over 25ha, extends on both sides of Rudland
Beck. It is defined by a bank and outer ditch around most of its circuit,
sections of which are now marked on modern maps as drains. In the southern
corner of this large close there is a smaller enclosure including the remains
of a number of buildings. It is this enclosure that is the subject of the
scheduling, as it formed the functional core of the grange. The buildings were
investigated by A Pacitto in the mid-1960s with a series of small scale sample
excavations, uncovering medieval features but leaving them in situ.
The enclosure is approximately triangular, bound to the east by Rudland Beck,
to the SSW by a boundary formed by an orthostatic wall which becomes a low
bank and then a dry stone wall, and to the north west by a stone revetted
drainage ditch which runs to the north of a range of ruined buildings. The
interior of the enclosure slopes gently downhill from this drainage ditch to
The range of buildings survive as stone walling, mostly covered in vegetation
typically standing between 0.3m and just over 1m high. They extend along the
south western half of the north western boundary. The main structure is a
medieval aisled barn just over 33m long and 8.5m wide, aligned north east to
south west across the slope of the hillside. It is interpreted as a sheep
house with an upper floor for human accommodation and fodder storage. It has
13 pairs of pillar bases down its length forming a central nave just over 5m
wide, and narrow side aisles just over 1m wide, with the pillars spaced at
about 2.5m intervals down the length of the barn. It has three entrances, a 1m
wide doorway positioned centrally in the south east wall and 1.8m entrances
through both end walls. Sample excavation revealed a clay floor with cobbling
laid around these entrances. The clay is thought to have come from a 10m wide
scoop dug out of the hillside on the north west side of the building. The side
walls are nearly 1m thick and are constructed with mainly undressed stone
which includes a number of large boulders. These side walls extend a further
18m south west from the barn to form an enclosed yard. Across the end of this
yard, blocking its original 3.65m wide entrance, there are the remains of a
building interpreted as a house which was later rebuilt on a slightly
different plan. The first house measured 8.5m by 4.3m internally with walls
just over 0.5m thick. Excavation evidence suggested that the roof was
supported by gable walls and a single pair of centrally placed cruck timbers.
There is no evidence of internal divisions to the building, which had its
doorway through the south west wall and a hearth stone towards its northern
corner. This is thought to have been a later addition to the grange to provide
improved living accommodation. At some date this building collapsed, with the
south eastern gable wall falling outwards. It was replaced by a cruder,
slightly smaller building, reusing the north and south western walls, blocking
the original doorway and making an entrance into the walled yard. This
building is thought to postdate the monastic grange and is similar to
post-medieval temporary shepherds' huts. The 1960s sample excavations also
uncovered a small lean-to building built over collapsed stone rubble against
the outside wall of the barn, close to its south corner. It is of drystone
construction with a carefully laid floor of irregular stone slabs and measures
3.2m by 1.7m internally. This is also thought to be post-medieval. To the
south of the building range there are at least two level areas within the
enclosure. These are interpreted as platforms for medieval timber buildings.
The first is 8m by 5m orientated parallel with and 11m away from the northern
half of the barn. The second is a 10m by 6m area terraced into the hillside
against the south western boundary wall towards the southern corner of the
enclosure. Evidence of other structures and features relating to the monastic
grange will survive archaeologically throughout the enclosure.
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
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.
Rudland Close monastic grange is a well preserved example of a moorland
bercarie, demonstrating the high level of investment that monastic houses put
into the profitable medieval wool trade. Information provided by the small
scale excavations in the mid-1960s confirms the importance of the site.
Source: Historic England
Pacitto, A, Rudland Close, site of a medieval aisled barn on the NY Moors, 1966, Interim report
Source: Historic England
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