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Medieval settlement and open field system at Kilton Thorpe

A Scheduled Monument in Lockwood, Redcar and Cleveland

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Latitude: 54.5494 / 54°32'57"N

Longitude: -0.9351 / 0°56'6"W

OS Eastings: 468979.277978

OS Northings: 517652.491965

OS Grid: NZ689176

Mapcode National: GBR PHXT.BX

Mapcode Global: WHF88.LXX6

Entry Name: Medieval settlement and open field system at Kilton Thorpe

Scheduled Date: 20 July 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019915

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34582

County: Redcar and Cleveland

Civil Parish: Lockwood

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Brotton Parva St Margaret

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of Kilton Thorpe
medieval settlement, together with part of its associated medieval open field
system. The parish of Skelton, of which the township of Kilton was part in the
medieval period, lies on the north east fringe of the North York Moors and
comprises a block of land running from the moorland edge in the south, across
the fertile coastal plain to the coast in the north. The plan of the medieval
settlement of Kilton Thorpe is of a type familiar to this part of Cleveland in
which parallel lines of tofts or house enclosures with crofts or garden areas
to the rear face on to a village green. Beyond the tofts and crofts would lie
the communal open fields where the crops were grown. The continued occupation
of Kilton Thorpe has meant that only a portion of the medieval settlement is
presently visible. Those remains visible include two tofts surviving as grass
grown banks and ditches. Within the western toft are the visible earthwork
remains of two buildings. The western-most of these buildings measures 20m by
7m and is orientated north west to south east, whilst the other of similar
proportions, is orientated east to west. Leading from the two tofts are two
hollow trackways, which once would have allowed access from the tofts to the
open fields beyond. The remains of these open fields can be clearly seen as
ridge and furrow earthworks, arranged in several furlongs to the north and
west of the tofts.
The township of Kilton is recorded in Domesday Book as comprising eight
carucates, four each in Kilton and (Kilton) Thorpe. In 1086 it was held by
the King and the Count of Mortain, from whom it passed to the Brus family and
by 1309 it was part of the holdings of the Percys of Kildale. The manor
was held from the Percys by the de Kilton family until the early 13th
century, when it passed to the de Thwengs. In the mid-14th century the manor
came into the hands of the Lumleys and then in the late 17th century reverted
to the de Thwengs.
All fencing is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is

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 past 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the East Yorkshire sub-Province of the Central Province,
an area characterised by marked local terrain variations: from the North York
Moors, to the Tabular Hills and Howardian Hills, to the Vale of Pickering and
the chalk Wolds, to the Hull Valley and the silt lands of the Humber and
Holderness. The sub-Province has the relatively low density of dispersed
settlements which marks the Central Province, but this uniformity masks strong
settlement contrasts. Some regions were typified by low density dispersed
settlement in the Middle Ages, whereas others have achieved a similar pattern
through extensive depopulation of medieval villages.
The North East Coast local region is for the greater part a sparsely settled
rural area, but it has higher concentrations of settlement around creeks and
havens, linked to fishing and to the extraction and processing of alum and

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 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 subdivided 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 or lands were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal
headlands at the plough turning-points and lateral grass balks. 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. It is usually now
covered by the hedges or walls of subsequent field enclosure.
The medieval settlement and open field system at Kilton Thorpe is well-
preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. The village is a
good example of its type which, taken together with the remains of its open
field system, will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of medieval
settlement in the region.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Daniels, R, 'Medieval Rural Settlement In North-East England' in Kilton: A survey of a moorland fringe township, , Vol. Res.Rep2, (1990), 33-57
Information board present at site, Tees Archaeology, Kilton Thorpe Medieval Settlement, (1990)
Information board present at site, Tees Archaeology, Kilton Thorpe Medieval Settlement, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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