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Newlass Cistercian monastic grange adjacent to New Leys Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Rievaulx, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2719 / 54°16'18"N

Longitude: -1.1082 / 1°6'29"W

OS Eastings: 458173.981212

OS Northings: 486613.306522

OS Grid: SE581866

Mapcode National: GBR NMP1.WF

Mapcode Global: WHD8D.YWGH

Entry Name: Newlass Cistercian monastic grange adjacent to New Leys Farm

Scheduled Date: 17 January 1975

Last Amended: 7 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019343

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32672

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Rievaulx

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Helmsley All Saints

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes earthwork and associated buried remains of a medieval
farm (or grange) which was under the direct control of the Cistercian abbey at
Rievaulx. It is located on a level area overlooking a deep gully known as Moll
Dawson's Slack immediately to the east.
Newlass was not listed in the Domesday Book of 1086; its earliest mention is
in the 1301 Lay Subsidy, a tax levied to support Edward I's campaigns against
the Scots, Welsh and French. The area was part of the second grant of land to
Rievaulx Abbey by Walter d'Espec in 1145 who had founded the Abbey with his
first grant in 1131. The grange is thought to have been established some time
after Abbot Ailred (1147-1167), but before the 1301 Lay Subsidy when it was
listed as Newlathes, meaning new barns, as a grange of Rievaulx Abbey and
assessed at 66 shillings and 4 pence. In 1539 when the abbey was dissolved by
Henry VIII, Newlass was still run by the abbey rather than being leased to a
tenant. The grange was valued at 6 pounds 15 shillings and 6 pence and
included a dwelling house, a great sheep house along with several
outbuildings. The grange had 354 acres of which 288 acres were pasture, 38
acres were meadow and 8 acres were used as a garden. As well as being a
bercarie (a sheep farm), Newlass also included a small rabbit farm on its land
with a house and rabbit warren set in five acres of pasture. Following the
Dissolution, the freehold, along with the site of the abbey and other Rievaulx
estates, was granted to Thomas Manners, Earl of Rutland.
The upstanding earthworks that extend across the monument include the remains
of three main groups of buildings, along with a series of banks and a scatter
of more isolated structures, some of which are shown in a highly simplified
form on the 1:10,000 map. Most of the remains lie within the bounds of an
irregular stoney bank which extends from the north side of the modern farmyard
curving around to the east to return to the south side, enclosing an area up
to 250m north-south and 200m east-west. This bank is irregular in both form
and course, and incorporates a number of buildings along its length. One of
the groups of buildings is clustered around an entrance to this enclosure.
This lies 200m north of the modern farmhouse, which is marked on the 1:10,000
map as the southernmost building in the modern farmyard. The entrance way is
about 7m wide, flanked with a pair of substantial banks which run 13m south
eastwards. The north eastern side is then continued by the remains of a range
of three stone buildings. The first is 5m by 5m, the second 6m by 15m parallel
with the entrance way and the last 7m by 10m orientated at right angles so
that the building juts 4m into the line of the entrance way. The earthworks of
the rear wall of the first two buildings are very substantial, standing to 1m
high, and are thought to include the remains of buttresses which would imply
that these buildings had an upper floor. The south western side of the
entrance way broadens out to 20m wide for 15m where the bank turns a right
angle back north east, stopping 7m short of the middle building on the north
east side. Within this broadened area there are the limited remains of another
two structures, one 5m by 5m, the other 12m by 4m orientated with the entrance
way. These are interpreted as the remains of timber buildings. On the outside
of the entrance way, 10m to the south west along the boundary bank, and
effectively forming part of the line of the bank, there are the remains of
another stone built structure. This is 17m by 5m divided into three cells with
a 7m long cell in the middle and 5m square cells at the two ends. On the south
east side of the middle cell, at a distance of 1m, there is another parallel
wall line. This structure is thought to represent the remains of a set of
small livestock pens. Also forming part of the boundary bank, but on the other
side of the entrance way, some 70m west of the livestock pens and 50m west of
the inside end of the entrance way, there are the earthworks of a building 7m
by 11m orientated north-south. On its western side there is an area of further
earthworks of structures over an area about 10m by 15m, whilst just over 50m
to the east, outside the main enclosure, there are the rounded earthworks of
another building approximately 6m by 9m. To the south of and in line with the
entrance way to the enclosure, there is a 4m diameter depression which is up
to 0.5m deep. This is in the open area of the enclosure, 45m south east of the
group of buildings around the entrance. This depression is thought to mark the
position of a well. Due east of this there is another group of building
remains which are very simply shown on the 1:10,000 map 180m north east of the
modern farmhouse. Of this group there is a principal building measuring 7m by
16m with opposed central entrances which included dressed stonework in its
construction. This building's size and layout suggests that it could have been
a threshing barn. It is orientated on the same axis as the entrance way to the
north west, its south western doorway opening out onto the interior of the
main enclosure, its north eastern doorway leading out to a small yard 20m
across. This yard is enclosed by an eastward extension of the main boundary
bank which in places here can be seen to have also included coursed stonework.
There is some evidence to suggest that this eastward extension is a later
addition to the grange's enclosure because a bank continues southwards,
skirting the western side of the principal building, continuing the line of
the main boundary bank to the north. The south side of the yard is formed by a
further set of buildings all set at an angle to the first and arranged loosely
around another, smaller, open area or yard. Three of these buildings are
orientated approximately east-west and measure around 6m by 4m. The last is
orientated approximately north-south, but not at right angles to the rest, and
is built into the boundary bank. It measures about 11m by 4m and is split into
two unequal cells. In the north western corner of the main yard, north of the
principal building there is a 3m diameter circular structure incorporated into
the boundary bank where it turns east from the possible original boundary bank
that continues south. This structure is interpreted as a kiln or oven, known
from excavations elsewhere to have sometimes been built into boundary banks,
and was possibly used for drying or malting grain. Centred 40m to the south
east of this group of buildings there is another, more regular group of
building remains arranged around a square yard 15m across. On the north and
south sides of this yard there are the earthworks, standing up to 0.8m high,
of a pair of stone buildings approximately 6m by 17m. The northern building,
which forms part of the circuit of the main boundary bank, appears to have had
a small outbuilding attached to its western end and to have had buttresses
supporting its northern wall. The east side of the yard is also defined by a
building. This included a cell 5m by 7m and is thought to have been a similar
size to the other two buildings. However it has been partly disturbed by a
modern gateway and a post-medieval enclosure bank which incorporates the
northern wall of the southern building to extend south westwards towards the
modern farm. This tree lined boundary bank, which is marked on the 1:10,000
map as a dashed line, has been replaced by a modern fence. On the south side
of this boundary, around the south west corner of the yard, there is an `L'-
shaped enclosure with an entrance way through its south side. The earthworks
to the south of the enclosure boundary are more rounded and show less exposed
stonework than those to the north. They include the remains of a number of
buildings which are more scattered than those to the north which are mainly
arranged around small yards. Just south of the `L'-shaped enclosure there is a
sunken area 20m by 10m interpreted as the site of a building with an
undercroft or cellar. The remains of a similar structure 12m by 6m lies 20m to
the north west where as the footings for two small stone buildings without
cellars lie 30m to the south west. Extending over 30m southwards from the
corner of the southernmost of these buildings is a broadening bank which is
interpreted as a small midden, a rubbish tip. The remains of the grange's
largest building lies 50m to the west, shown in highly simplified form on the
1:10,000 map 100m east of the farmhouse. It is orientated east-west and
measures about 35m east-west by 13m north-south with a central doorway through
its northern wall. This could be interpreted as the great sheep house listed
by the inventory taken at the Dissolution in 1539. At its south east corner
there is a platform for a structure 5m square and there are further low
structural remains just outside its north east corner. The west wall of the
large building extends southwards as a low bank before turning west to run
along the top of a lynchet. Extending southwards from this lynchet there are
the footings of a stone building 7m by 7m. The bank-topped lynchet forms a
`T'-junction with another low bank which runs approximately north-south
between and nearly parallel with the modern field boundary and the modern
trackway which run south from the farmhouse. This is identified as the western
boundary of the grange's enclosure. Just beyond it, parallel with the modern
track, there is a hollow way. This is also included in the monument and is
identified as a section of the trackway between the grange and the abbey.
The above description only covers the more obvious upstanding earthwork
remains. In addition there are numerous short sections of bank and lynchet
which originally subdivided the enclosure. There are also slighter earthworks
which will include the remains of further timber buildings and other
structures. Across the whole area of the monument there will also be buried
remains not identified by upstanding earthworks. Areas which otherwise look
flat will include buried features such as post holes for timber structures,
rubbish and storage pits and spreads of material which will preserve
information about the life and economy of the medieval grange. Some of these
features will also survive beneath the modern farmyard.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are all modern
farm buildings, fences, styles and gates, the concrete farmyard surfaces and
other concrete farm structures, water troughs and telegraph poles; 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

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.

Newlass monastic grange retains especially well-preserved earthworks
representing a large number of stone and timber buildings. It is especially
important because it was established by Rievaulx Abbey, one of the leading
monasteries in medieval England. Newlass provides a very valuable insight into
the economy of a major medieval monastery, complimenting the remains of the
abbey itself, 1.5km to the south.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Burton, J, 'Citeaux' in Estates and economy of Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire, , Vol. 1-2, (1998), 29-93
Pacitto, A, 'History of Helmsley, Rievaulx and District' in Two Monastic Granges, (1963), 438-9

Source: Historic England

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