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Mount Misery and Bakers Warren, 18th century rabbit warrens

A Scheduled Monument in Hackness, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2941 / 54°17'38"N

Longitude: -0.5401 / 0°32'24"W

OS Eastings: 495118.5695

OS Northings: 489700.6335

OS Grid: SE951897

Mapcode National: GBR SLNS.WG

Mapcode Global: WHGBY.PB0F

Entry Name: Mount Misery and Bakers Warren, 18th century rabbit warrens

Scheduled Date: 24 January 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020056

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32077

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Hackness

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Hutton Buscell St Matthew

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes parts of the 18th century rabbit warrens known as Mount
Misery and Bakers Warren, situated on the steep north facing slope of the
Tabular Hills. The monument is split into nine discrete areas to include some
well preserved upstanding sections of the boundary wall and internal enclosure
walls. Further intermittent upstanding remains and buried remains survive
outside these areas, but are not included in the scheduling.
Both of the warrens have a boundary wall, enclosing an area of about 50ha in
the case of Mount Misery and about 90ha in the case Bakers Warren. The
boundary wall of both warrens is 1m high, 2m wide and of dry stone wall
construction. Its internal face is vertical, limiting the loss of rabbits from
the warren. Its external face is sloped, allowing rabbits to enter the warren.
In places the top of the wall is capped with a layer of turf which would have
held down a layer of heather or gorse projecting out from the vertical,
internal face discouraging the loss of rabbits from the warren. Coppiced hazel
and ash trees are also found on the boundary walls; the branches of these were
used as a winter feed. An internal ditch, about 2m wide and surviving to 0.5m
deep was an additional deterent to rabbit loss. `Types' (pits for the
harvesting of rabbits) were built into the internal face of the boundary wall
and are typically thicker at this point. The types are circular pits of 1m
diameter and 1m deep. They are of dry stone construction with the upper
courses corbelled out to prevent rabbits jumping out of the pit. A `muce' (a
wooden tunnel) ran through the wall and over the pit, controlling access to
and from the warren for the rabbits. In the part of the muce over the pit,
tilting boards were placed which when triggered would allow rabbits to fall
into the pit. Enclosures of between 0.5ha and 3.75ha, (areas of protection 04,
08 and 09), built within the warren, were used as feeding grounds for the
rabbits. These were used from about 1760 to grow a crop of turnips, a feed
crop for the rabbit population. The enclosure walls are of the same
construction as the boundary wall, however the vertical face is on the
external face to prevent rabbit entry into the enclosures. Access into the
enclosure for the rabbits was provided along a muce over types built into the
wall of the enclosures as in the boundary wall. A 2m wide ditch is present on
the external side of the enclosure wall.
The consideration of establishing a warren in the parish of Wykeham is
recorded in 1731 as a means of improving the value of farms. However, these
rabbit warrens were established in the late 18th century when a number of
enclosure acts were passed for the two parishes of Wykeham and Hutton Buscel
in which the warrens at that time were situated. They continued in use
throughout the 19th century, being noted in census records up to and including
All post and wire fencing and the surfaces of metalled tracks are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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

Reasons for Scheduling

A warren is an area of land set aside for the breeding and management of
rabbits or hares in order to provide a constant supply of fresh meat and
skins. Although the hare is an indigenous species, the tradition of warren
construction and use dates from the 12th century, following the introduction
of rabbits into England from the continent. Warrens usually contain a number
of purpose-built breeding places known as pillow mounds or rabbit buries,
which were intended to centralise the colony and make catching the animals
easier, whether using nets, ferrets or dogs. The mounds vary in design
although rarely exceeding 0.7m in height. Earlier monuments such as burial
mounds, boundary features and mottes were sometimes reused as breeding places.
The mounds are usually surrounded by ditches and contain underlying channels
or are situated on sloping ground to facilitate drainage. The interior of the
mound may also contain nesting places constructed of stone slabs or cut into
the underlying subsoil or bedrock.
A typical warren may contain between one and forty pillow mounds or rabbit
buries and occupy an area up to c.600ha. Many warrens were enclosed by a bank,
hedge or wall intended to contain and protect the stock. Other features
associated with the warren include vermin traps (usually a dead-fall mechanism
within a small tunnel), and more rarely traps for the warren stock (known in
Yorkshire as `types') which could contain the animals unharmed and allow for
selective culling. Larger warrens might include living quarters for the
warrener who kept charge of the site, sometimes surrounded by an enclosed
garden and outbuildings.
Early warrens were mostly associated with the higher levels of society;
however, they gradually spread in popularity so that by the 16th and 17th
centuries they were a common feature on most manors and estates throughout the
country. Warrens continued in use until fairly recent times, finally declining
in the face of 19th and 20th century changes in agricultural practice, and the
onset of myxomatosis. Warrens are found in all parts of England, the earliest
examples lying in the southern part of the country. Approximately 1,000 -
2,000 examples are known nationally with concentrations in upland areas, on
heathland and in coastal zones. The profits from a successfully managed warren
could, however, be considerable and many areas in lowland England were set
aside for warrens at the expense of agricultural land. Although relatively
common, warrens are important for their associations with other classes of
monument, including various forms of settlement, deer parks, field systems and
fishponds. They may also provide evidence of the economy of both secular and
ecclesiastical estates. All well preserved medieval examples are considered
worthy of protection. A sample of well preserved sites of later date will also
merit protection.

The boundary wall and enclosure walls of Mount Misery and Bakers Warren are
the best preserved examples in the north east of Yorkshire. They are a rare
survival of a common agricultural activity on the north facing slope of the
Tabular Hills in the 18th century. They will provide important information on
the size, nature, management and development of 18th century warrens
nationally. Evidence for earlier land use will survive beneath both the
boundary and enclosure walls.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Marshall, , The Rural Economy of Yorkshire, (1788), 266
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Yorkshire: North Riding, (1968), 498
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Yorkshire: North Riding, (1968), 441
Harris, A, Spratt, D A, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in The Rabbit Warrens of the Tabular Hills, North Yorkshire, , Vol. 63, (1991), 177-206

Source: Historic England

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