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Skiplam Grange monastic grange

A Scheduled Monument in Nawton, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2789 / 54°16'43"N

Longitude: -0.9912 / 0°59'28"W

OS Eastings: 465781.114

OS Northings: 487493.7977

OS Grid: SE657874

Mapcode National: GBR PLJY.6X

Mapcode Global: WHF9L.RQ63

Entry Name: Skiplam Grange monastic grange

Scheduled Date: 9 March 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019752

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32703

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Nawton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Kirkdale St Gregory

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes earthwork and associated buried remains of a monastic
grange, a medieval farm established by the Cistercian Rievaulx Abbey, which
extends around the existing farm of Skiplam Grange. The modern farmyards and
buildings overlie part of the original area of the monastic grange, but this
area is not included within the monument.
Skiplam was part of the large grant of land given to Rievaulx Abbey by
Gundreda d'Aubigny between 1144 and 1154 and later confirmed by her son Roger
de Mowbray. This grant included some land in cultivation along with previously
unexploited land which the abbey was allowed to assart, or improve and bring
into productive use, as they wished. By the time of Abbot Ailred (1147-1167)
Skiplam was operated as a grange. It is thought that this resulted in the
depopulation of Hoveton, a settlement listed by the Domesday Book of 1086 and
believed to have been somewhere between Fadmoor and Kirbymoorside. In the late
12th century Rievaulx was granted pasture in Beadlam with a right of way to a
sheepcote within the grange which is thought to have been sited at Wether
Cote, just over 2km to the NNW of the monument. In the Quo Warranto enquiry of
1293-4, the Abbot of Rievaulx claimed the right of free warren, the right to
hunt, on his lands in Skiplam from a grant made by Henry III in 1269. Skiplam
may have been leased to a tenant rather than operated as a directly managed
grange by the end of the 13th century because it was not listed by the 1301
Lay Subsidy, a tax levied in support of Edward I's military campaigns. Other
granges in the area belonging to Rievaulx were listed and assessed. By 1526,
Skiplam was farmed by lay persons and inhabited by John and Alison Braithwaite
who were granted a generous allowance by the abbey. By the Dissolution of
Rievaulx Abbey in 1538-9 the mansion at Skiplam was in the hands of the Abbot,
along with the sheep house at Wether Cote and 20 acres of brush wood at
Hoggebek. The rest of the estate was divided equally between four tenants
William Edon, Thomas Hooton, John Hooton and William Barker at a rent of 3
pounds with the whole estate valued at 12 pounds 15 shillings. In 1541 Skiplam
was granted along with other former Rievaulx Abbey lands to Thomas Manners
Earl of Rutland. Earthwork remains of the buildings and other features that
formed the core of the monastic grange lie in the fields around the modern
farm. All lie between two major boundary features which are included within
the monument. To the north of the modern farm running approximately south west
to north east there is a ditch around 4m wide whose south western end survives
mainly as an infilled feature with the north eastern end, which runs down a
steep slope, being further emphasised by flanking banks. To the south of the
farm, there is a broad bank that starts on the southern side of the modern
entrance to Skiplam Grange and runs downhill to the north east. This also
forms the south side of the medieval entrance to the complex which is followed
by the much narrower modern trackway. Where this bends northwards, the track
is flanked by small quarrying hollows which are considered to be medieval in
origin, probably to supply building stone which was later reused for the farm
buildings now still in use. In the paddock to the north of the modern
trackway, there are the earthworks of at least three ranges of buildings. The
first is built along the entrance way's northern boundary bank. It is around
25m by 4m, split into three cells and appears to have been open on its
northern side. Between this and the modern farm buildings there are the
footings of two other building ranges at right angles to each other with the
slightly raised platform for another small building just to the west. In the
western part of this paddock, along side the road, there are a further set of
small quarry scoops which could also be contemporary with the grange, but may
alternatively have been dug later to provide road stone. The part of the
monument within the field to the north of the modern farm is divided into
three areas by marked NNW to SSE lynchets. The western and middle areas retain
slight ridge and furrow left by medieval ploughing. The middle area also
retains a slight platform which is interpreted as the site of a timber
building which is thought to have measured around 10m by 4m. Built into the
downhill side of the western of the two lynchets there are the earthworks of a
substantial stone building about 10m by 5m, with the slightly less substantial
remains of a second longer and thinner building to the south. The hillside
drops away quite steeply from here to the ENE, but there are at least a couple
of small platforms down this slope that are considered to have been the site
of further structures. To the east of the modern farm there is another modern
trackway, marked on the 1:10,000 map, that is thought to preserve an earlier
route. Just to the west of this there is a stoney boundary bank into the side
of which there are the remains of at least two sets of small buildings or
small walled pens. Just uphill from this, north east of Skiplam Grange farm
house which is the northern-most building of the modern farm complex, there is
a mainly infilled stone lined well. Downhill and to the east of the trackway
there are the slight earthworks of at least two further buildings, considered
to have been timber rather than stone . Flanking the trackway close to the
southern boundary of the monument, there is a pair of more substantial
building platforms which are thought to be the remains of stone buildings.
Further levelled areas, raised platforms and other earthworks representing the
remains of additional structures and buildings lie scattered across the
monument. Additional buried remains including rubbish and storage pits, yard
surfaces and spreads of material like smithing wastes will also survive
archaeologically, but will not necessarily show as upstanding earthworks.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling these are; all modern
fences, walls, stiles and gates, all water and feeding troughs, and all
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

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.

Skiplam Grange retains a range of earthwork features, including the remains of
several buildings. It is of particular interest because unlike Rievaulx's home
granges at Griff and Newlass, which also survive as earthwork sites, Skiplam
was tenanted out and managed by lay farmers, rather than being directly
managed by the abbey.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Burton, J, 'Citeaux' in Estates and economy of Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire, , Vol. 1-2, (1998), 29-94

Source: Historic England

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