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Hanging Grimston medieval settlement adjacent to Mount Pleasant Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Thixendale, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.0291 / 54°1'44"N

Longitude: -0.782 / 0°46'55"W

OS Eastings: 479881.08354

OS Northings: 459925.188398

OS Grid: SE798599

Mapcode National: GBR QPZV.HD

Mapcode Global: WHFBV.YZSK

Entry Name: Hanging Grimston medieval settlement adjacent to Mount Pleasant Farm

Scheduled Date: 7 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019093

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32665

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Thixendale

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Kirby Underdale All Saints

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes buried and earthwork remains of the medieval village of
Hanging Grimston, together with the surviving area of its open field system
visible as ridge and furrow earthworks. It is located to the south and west of
Mount Pleasant Farm. Originally known as Grimston, the `Hanging' prefix of the
settlement's name first occurred in 1300; the settlement was a township of
Kirby Underdale. The Domesday Book of 1087 listed two manors for the
settlement. The first was held by Odo the Crossbowman, William the Conqueror's
chief military engineer, and included arable land for four and a half plough
teams and eight acres of meadow. The second manor included the same amount of
arable land and was held by the king who let it to Osweard and Rothmundr. By
1093 William Rufus confirmed the granting of both his and Odo's manors to St
Mary's Benedictine Abbey in York which is thought to have held the township
until the abbey was dissolved in 1539. In 1381, 79 people were listed as being
over 14 and thus liable for the Poll Tax. Enclosure of the medieval openfields
was reported in 1517 and by 1563 all of the township was in the ownership of
Lord Dacre. A Chancery petition in 1619 noted that there was just a small area
of arable left, indicating that the settlement was effectively deserted by
this time. The earthworks of the village extend down a south facing hillside
with building platforms forming a number of small terraces. In overall form
the village was simple in plan with two rows of properties facing each other
across a narrow village green with a third row of smaller houses to the north
west following a section of a back lane. The village's main street was a
southwards continuation of Gatehowe Road, now followed by a footpath in the
bottom of a hollow way. This continued south, past the western side of the
modern Mount Pleasant Farm and broadened into a long narrow village green
which formed the heart of the village. To the west of this main street there
was another lane marked by a hollow way. This is approximately followed by the
modern road line southwards, diverging from the main street at the north end
of the monument. Linking these two routeways there is a 20m wide terrace
supporting the trackway which ends at the modern farm. Mount Pleasant Farm is
thought to have developed out of the last farm remaining following the
depopulation of the village in the 16th century, and the terrace is
interpreted as a drove way for the sheep which were more profitable than
tenant farmers for the landlord at that time. Running southwards from this
drove way, 60m west of the entrance to the farm, there is another hollow way
which formed a back lane for properties fronting onto the western side of the
The main core of the settlement lies to the south of the drove way. Between
the back lane and the village green, which lies 40-50m to the east, there is a
north-south row of at least six tofts (plots for houses, outbuildings and
yards), terraced into the hillside. The toft immediately to the north east of
the present house, which lies to the south west of the modern farm, is
especially complex, with remains of several buildings arranged around a
central yard. The village green is about 30m wide and has been heavily
quarried into a series of depressions extending down the hill, some of which
contain water. As this quarrying is constrained by the building platforms to
east and west, it is thought to have taken place during the lifetime of the
village. On the eastern side of the green there are further tofts retaining
building remains. The tofts have a common boundary ditch to the east and are
separated from each other by low banks or breaks of slope. Centred 200m south
of the modern farm there are the remains of a small courtyard farmstead,
similar to those found to typically date to around the 15th century elsewhere
on the Wolds. This measures 22m by 40m externally and includes a horseshoe of
buildings around a south facing yard 8m by 20m. The next two tofts to the
north extend just over 100m back from the green. They appear to have been
amalgamated as they share a single building 8m by 20m orientated parallel to
the green. The two tofts to the south of the courtyard farmstead are not as
long, extending about 70m back from the green. The northern one has a single
small building platform, whereas the southern toft retains evidence of at
least two structures. Fronting onto the green there is a level area for a
small building similar to several other tofts within the monument. To the east
there is a raised platform 8m by 8m, 0.5m high with a 5m diameter, 0.7m high
mound on its northern, uphill half. This is interpreted as the remains of a
kiln or oven.
The northern part of the monument, to the east of the modern road and north of
the track to Mount Pleasant Farm, is divided into a series of six east-west
terraces extending down the hillside southwards. On the western side of this
area, extending south from approximately where the modern road diverges south
from the field boundary, there is a row of five to six small building
platforms. These are typically 8m across and front onto the hollow way, which
runs just east of the modern road and is interpreted as a former back lane,
with a low bank to their east. These are interpreted as platforms for less
substantial medieval peasant houses than those fronting onto the green. Along
the southern edge of the northernmost terrace there are the footings of a
further three buildings. These are much more substantial in nature and are
more comparable with those near the village green. The middle structure is 10m
by 10m and the two flanking ones are both 8m by 11m. The next two terraces,
both about 20m wide, are interpreted as crofts, probably originally used for
horticulture. The fourth terrace down the hillside is the widest, up to 35m
wide. This has been used for quarrying, but also has a small building platform
in its south west corner and a circular depression around 20m in diameter to
the east interpreted as a dewpond. The terraces to the south are more
irregular, narrower and also show evidence of quarrying. Further to the south,
beyond the drove way to Mount Pleasant Farm, there are the earthworks of ridge
and furrow cultivation following the contours east to west and extending
between the back lane of the properties fronting onto the village green and
the other lane followed by the modern road. To the west of the modern road
there are the well preserved remains of further medieval ridge and furrow
earthworks. In the northern 300m of the area, the ridge and furrow is
orientated north-south, down the gentle slope of the hillside. The northern
end is cut across by a later field boundary, but the southern end retains a
well defined header bank. To the south of this, the hillside steepens and the
ridge and furrow is orientated with the contours east-west, producing a
succession of low lynchets. On the far western side there is a stone arched
well known as Sounding Well, cut into the hillside, which may have medieval
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are all modern
fences, walls, styles and gates, water troughs and the platforms that they
stand on, telegraph poles and all road and path surfaces; however, 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.
The Yorkshire Wolds local region is a soft, rolling, chalk landscape with deep
valleys. Dispersed farmsteads, usually impressive creations of the late 18th
and 19th centuries, are present in small numbers. The earlier pattern of
medieval nucleated settlements - villages and hamlets - still dominates the
archaeological landscape as either deserted settlement sites or sites still
occupied by rural communities.

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.
Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on
large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were divided 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. Individual
strips were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal headlands
at the plough turning points and lateral grass baulks. Furlongs were in turn
grouped into 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.
The earthworks of Hanging Grimston are particularly well preserved. In
addition, buried remains such as rubbish pits, yard surfaces, and spreads of
deposits such as smithing wastes will add to the understanding of medieval
village life, none of which will necessarily show as upstanding earthworks.
The monument also gains additional importance via its association with St
Mary's Abbey. The village settlement appears to have been occupied for several
hundred years and demonstrates changing agricultural practises over this
period, for example, with the development of courtyard farms around the 15th
century. These probably indicate an increased emphasis on stockbreeding at
this time.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beresford, M W , 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in Lost Villages of Yorkshire, , Vol. 38, (1952), 62

Source: Historic England

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