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Medieval deer park pale surrounding Fountains Park

A Scheduled Monument in Bishop Thornton, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.0891 / 54°5'20"N

Longitude: -1.6007 / 1°36'2"W

OS Eastings: 426214.6925

OS Northings: 465980.2106

OS Grid: SE262659

Mapcode National: GBR KP84.7Y

Mapcode Global: WHC80.CHZ3

Entry Name: Medieval deer park pale surrounding Fountains Park

Scheduled Date: 7 August 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020120

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31369

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Bishop Thornton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire


The monument includes standing and buried remains of most of the park pale, or
boundary, surrounding Fountains Park deer park and is located in undulating
ground to the south west of Fountains Abbey. The monument includes most of
the original circuit of the pale and two sections of earthwork which are
either remains of internal divisions or evidence for expansion or contraction
of the park over the years. The monument is divided into five separate areas
of protection; one containing the pale on the western and south western sides
of the park, one adjacent to Foal Cote Farm containing a section of the pale
and an internal division, one lying to the west of Ninevah containing a
section of the eastern park pale, one in Abbey Fall Wood and along Fountains
Lane containing the pale and an internal division and the fifth area alongside
Fountains Lane containing the park pale. A further section of the pale
survives to the west of How Hill but because of its close association with a
medieval chapel site and other remains this is the subject of a separate
Fountains Park was a hunting park created for Fountains Abbey. The northern
part of the park was initially part of a wider tract of land granted to the
abbey by Robert de Sartis in 1134. This was the first endowment given to the
abbey after its foundation and enabled it to become a viable concern. When the
park was laid out it included some existing abbey holdings including part of a
grange, at Haddockstanes, which was incorporated into the southern part of the
park. The park was completed by 1458 and was one the major elements in the
monastic landscape. It extended over some 212 acres, and is known from
documentary evidence to have included 91 acres of woodland, the 16 acre great
pond, areas of mixed agriculture as well as areas of chase. Whilst functioning
primarily as a deer park the area would also have served to supply the abbey
with a constant and sustainable supply of food and wood throughout the year.
After the dissolution of Fountains Abbey in 1539 the park was bought by the
Gresham family who maintained it as a hunting estate. By the 19th century the
park was part of the Studley Royal estate of the Marquis of Ripon.
The medieval park was enclosed by a substantial park pale with a total
circuit of approximately 6km, which, where possible, appears to have used the
natural shape of the land. Today the pale survives best where it has been
incorporated into modern field boundaries. The park pale varied in
construction along its length reflecting both the local shape of the land and
the immediate land use within the park. The pale included a stone wall which
in places stood on an earth and stone built bank up to 4m wide. There is no
currently identifiable evidence of entrances into the park, however these are
likely to have been located near Park House and at Foal Cote Farm. The
sections of pale which no longer survive have been obscured or destroyed by
later agricultural and road construction activities.
The first area of the monument extends south west from near Park House at NGR
SE26626788 where it forms the southern side of the Fountains to Sawley
road. For 850m along this length the pale survives as an earth bank with
occasional sections of medieval masonry up to 0.5m high. At NGR SE26106737
the pale departs from the line of the road and extends south east as far as
Wainforth Wood forming a field boundary where it survives as a low wall on a
bank 3m wide. After the pale enters the wood it takes on a different form. For
the next 1250m it extends first along a stream bank then meanders along the
south east facing steep slope of the valley containing the Dean Lake. For most
of its length through the wood, the pale survives as a wall up to 1m in
height with a consistently level top formed by broad stones placed across it.
Towards the northern end the cross stones are interspersed with regularly
placed upright stones thereby creating a crenellated effect. This is the
result of the wall being repaired in the late 19th century to form a level and
visually neat finish as a landscape feature offering a pleasing aspect from
the nearby fishing lake constructed in the 1890s by the Marquis of Ripon.
There have been a number of small land slips in the past which have dislodged
and obscured the wall. From the end of Bull Covert Wood at NGR SE26106629 the
pale extends south east for 550m then north east for 750m as far as NGR
SE26806639. Along this stretch the pale survives as wall up to 2m in height.
The lower part is medieval in origin and the upper part of the wall has been
repaired in the post-monastic period. There is then a gap for a field gate of
20m where the pale survives below ground and then continues again for a
further 77m. Along this last stretch there is a bank 3m wide supporting ruined
medieval walling up to 4 courses in height. At this point footings for the
wall were wider and these can be seen in the ground surface along the line of
the bank. The second area of the monument lies to the east of Foal Cote Farm.
The pale extends eastward from the northern part of the farm complex along the
northern side of the farm track for 500m as far as NGR SE27256700. It survives
as a low bank with medieval stonework visible on the surface of the ground. To
the north east of Foal Cote Farm there is an earthwork bank up to 5m wide and
0.3m high extending north east for 200m then south east for 100m to join the
park pale at NGR SE27406686 thus enclosing Coney Hill. This bank is included
as it is interpreted as marking a sub-division within the medieval park. As
the word coney is often associated with the management of rabbits it is
suggested that Coney Hill was enclosed as a rabbit warren within the park. No
remains of constructed warrens or associated features are currently known to
survive and Coney Hill is therefore not included in the monument.
In the third area of the monument the southern end of the surviving pale
starts at NGR SE27606736 and extends northwards for 260m. The bulk of this
section of pale is composed of an earth and stone bank up to 4m wide and 1m
high. There are stone footings for the original medieval wall surviving along
the length and in places the wall stands two courses high. The northern 50m
takes a different form where it survives as a double bank with a central ditch
with footings for the wall surviving 5m to the east. The banks are up to 5m
wide and 0.5m high and the ditch is 3m wide.
The fourth area is located 60m to the north at the edge of Abbey Fall Wood.
It continues the form of a double bank and ditch with a wall of medieval
origin extending parallel to the bank lying up to 6m to the east. The wall
stands up to 1.5m in height and has been rebuilt over the years and now forms
the boundary to the wood. After 120m the bank and ditch curves to the west to
form an internal division within the park whilst the wall continues northward.
The bank and ditch follows the base of the hill for 170m and then extends
south west for 170m as far as NGR SE27176760. For the south western stretch
it takes a different form and survives as a terrace up to 4m wide cut into
the base of the slope. It is not currently known what happened to this feature
beyond this point. The park pale with the upstanding wall continues north as
far as the northern edge of the wood after which it survives as a wall up to
0.5m high on the roadside with a stone bank 3m to the west as far as the
bridge at NGR SE27226789.
The fifth area of the monument extends for 230m along the southern side of
Fountains Lane between the bridge and the south side of the grounds of Skell
View Cottages. The pale survives as a bank 3m wide extending immediately on
the inside of the field boundary.
These five sections of surviving pale would originally have been linked.
Changes in land use in the post-medieval period have, however, reduced and
obscured the line of the pale in places. Only those sections with surviving
identifiable remains are currently included.
All fences and gates and the surface of roads and tracks are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 3 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Deer parks were areas of land, usually enclosed, set aside and equipped for
the management and hunting of deer and other animals. They were generally
located in open countryside on marginal land or adjacent to a manor house,
castle or palace. They varied in size between 3ha and 1600ha and usually
comprised a combination of woodland and grassland which provided a mixture of
cover and grazing for deer. Parks could contain a number of features,
including hunting lodges (often moated), a park-keeper's house, rabbit
warrens, fishponds and enclosures for game, and were usually surrounded by a
park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank often with an internal ditch.
Although a small number of parks may have been established in the Anglo-Saxon
period, it was the Norman aristocracy's taste for hunting that led to the
majority being constructed. The peak period for the laying-out of parks,
between AD 1200 and 1350, coincided with a time of considerable prosperity
amongst the nobility. From the 15th century onwards few parks were constructed
and by the end of the 17th century the deer park in its original form had
largely disappeared. The original number of deer parks nationally is unknown
but probably exceeded 3000. Many of these survive today, although often
altered to a greater or lesser degree. They were established in virtually
every county in England, but are most numerous in the West Midlands and Home
Counties. Deer parks were a long-lived and widespread monument type. Today
they serve to illustrate an important aspect of the activities of medieval
nobility and still exert a powerful influence on the pattern of the modern
landscape. Where a deer park survives well and is well-documented or
associated with other significant remains, its principal features are normally
identified as nationally important.

The medieval deer park pale surrounding Fountains Park survives well and
significant evidence of its original form and method of construction will be
preserved. It is unusual for such a significant proportion of a monastic park
pale to survive and important evidence of the development and any changes in
extent and functions of the park as whole will survive. The park was a major
component of the Fountains Abbey landscape outside the immediate precinct of
the abbey and the monument offers scope for the study of monastic parks and
the wider monastic exploitation of the medieval landscape.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Coppack, G, Fountains Abbey, (1993), 78-98
Emerick, K, Fountains Park Watching Brief, (1991)
Reeves, C, Pleasures and Pastimes in Medieval England, (1995), 89-122
Roebuck, J, Davison, , 'L'espace Cistercien' in Protecting the Cistercian Landscape: a View from N Yorkshire, (1994), 319-326

Source: Historic England

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