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Prehistoric linear boundary and associated features including a medieval monastic grange, north, east and south east of Moorsome Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Brompton, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2665 / 54°15'59"N

Longitude: -0.5987 / 0°35'55"W

OS Eastings: 491363.638

OS Northings: 486549.1144

OS Grid: SE913865

Mapcode National: GBR SM83.5C

Mapcode Global: WHGC3.S133

Entry Name: Prehistoric linear boundary and associated features including a medieval monastic grange, north, east and south east of Moorsome Farm

Scheduled Date: 10 August 1923

Last Amended: 20 May 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020836

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35445

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Brompton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Snainton St Stephen

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes upstanding earthworks of a prehistoric linear
boundary which is situated on the southern slopes of the Tabular Hills.
Also included are three round barrows, part of a linear boundary
considered to be of medieval origin, two hollow ways, a medieval monastic
grange and the site of a post-medieval rabbit trap, all of which are
situated adjacent to or within the prehistoric boundary. The monument is
protected in three separate areas. The prehistoric boundary runs
approximately north to south, following a slightly sinuous course from the
top of the steep slope into Troutsdale and along the eastern edge of Wy
Dale. At its northern end, the boundary has six steep-sided V-shaped
ditches which run between seven approximately parallel earthen banks, and
terminates as the slope into Troutsdale starts to increase. At the
terminal it has an overall width of 40m. The ditches are up to 1.3m deep,
increasing to 2m as they start to run down the slope into Troutsdale.
Formerly, the six ditches and seven banks ran for 1.15km, but over the
years ploughing has levelled the southern 330m and encroached upon the
western edge of the next 460m to the north so that up to five ditches and
banks have been infilled or levelled. On the eastern side of the boundary
towards the northern end one ditch and two banks have also been partly
levelled or infilled as a result of ploughing and other agricultural
activities. However, all these ditches survive as subsoil features which
are visible as soil marks on aerial photographs. For a 400m length
starting close to the northern end there is a further series of up to 20
parallel ditches and banks which have been added to the western side of
the main ditches and banks and are considered to be later in date. These
are smaller in both width and depth than the other ditches and banks, and
they decrease in size towards their western edge. Most follow a straighter
course than the six larger ditches, particularly those nearest the large
ditches and banks. The southern 90m of these additional ditches and banks
have been ploughed level and parts of the western edge have also been
levelled by modern agricultural activities, but they are visible on aerial
photographs. The additional ditches give the earthworks an overall maximum
width of 125m in the centre of this 400m section. The easternmost
additional ditch, and the bank to the west of it, originally continued for
at least a further 395m to the south, giving the earthworks an overall
maximum width of 75m.
For its southern 1.28km, the prehistoric boundary has two ditches which
run between three parallel banks of earth and stone. These ditches have a
more rounded profile than those further to the north and they survive up
to 1.4m deep. At the southern end the ditches gradually shallow and taper
towards each other, terminating shortly before Wy Dale starts to become a
steeper and more pronounced valley. These earthworks are 20m to 22m wide.
Over the years ploughing has levelled the banks and infilled the ditches
in places, so that the surviving earthworks are only intermittently
visible. Originally, in the 160m length between this section of the
boundary and the multiple-ditch northern section, the number of ditches
and banks gradually reduced in number from north to south. The earthworks
have also been levelled and infilled by ploughing here, although the lines
of the outer banks were preserved in former field boundaries which appear
on Ordnance Survey maps up to the 1970s.
The three round barrows are situated at the northern end of the
prehistoric boundary, within or immediately adjacent to the additional
smaller ditches and banks on the western edge. The northern barrow is
situated in a prominent position overlooking Troutsdale. It has an earthen
mound which is 14m in diameter and stands up to 1.4m high. In the centre
of the mound there is a hollow which is the result of partial excavation
in the past. The central barrow is situated 95m to the south west and the
southern barrow is situated 110m to the south west of the central barrow.
Formerly these two barrows each had earthen mounds which measured 24m and
10m in diameter respectively. However, modern agricultural activities have
resulted in the levelling of the mounds so that only the base of each is
visible as a slight earthwork, no more than 0.1m high.
The rabbit trap has been identified from the 1848 edition of the Ordnance
Survey maps. It was originally constructed against the south eastern edge
of the central round barrow, but over the years it has collapsed and
become levelled so that it is no longer visible as an earthwork, although
its location can be seen as a soil mark on aerial photographs.
The two hollow ways each run approximately east to west across the
prehistoric boundary towards its northern end, cutting through all the
banks. The northern hollow way is 10m wide and up to 0.8m deep, but it has
been partly obscured by a modern surfaced trackway which follows the same
course and at its western end, by a surfaced car park. It is thought to
have been established in the medieval period, initially as a route between
the monastic settlements at Lastingham and Hackness. The southern hollow
way lies about 210m to the south east. It is 15m wide and more than 1.5m
deep at its eastern end, but its southern side has been eroded further by
its use as a modern field access track.
The segment of medieval linear boundary is 450m long and runs parallel to
the prehistoric boundary on its western side, turning towards the north
west at its northern end, which is about 75m south of the southern hollow
way. Originally the boundary had a ditch running between two banks.
However, the banks have been levelled and the ditch infilled as a result
of ploughing in the past and they no longer survive as earthworks,
although the ditch is visible as a soil mark on aerial photographs.
Towards the southern end of the monument, the medieval monastic grange is
appended to the western edge of the prehistoric boundary. The northern and
southern edges of the grange are marked by enclosing banks which run
across the valley and are 65m apart; the western edge is overlain by
post-medieval field boundaries within which the fields have been ploughed
and have no visible remains of the grange. Within the enclosing banks of
the grange there is a regular rectilinear arrangement of at least four
sub-rectangular buildings and small enclosures. These survive as a series
of low stony banks marking wall lines and level platforms terraced into
the eastern valley slope. The banks are 2m wide and 0.3m-0.5m high. The
largest of the buildings measures 32m by 3m internally and has an entrance
in the southern narrow end. At the south side of the enclosed area there
is a well which survives as a shallow sub-circular depression about 8m in
diameter. The grange is thought to have been a specialised sheep farm
which was owned by Yedingham Priory.
The monument forms part of a network of prehistoric linear boundaries
which is surrounded by many other prehistoric monuments, particularly
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are: the surfaces
of the public car park and forestry access track at the northern end of the
monument, the surfaces of farm access tracks crossing and alongside the
prehistoric boundary, all fence posts along modern field boundaries crossing
and running along the monument, all field boundary walls crossing and running
alongside the monument, the wooden shed situated on the prehistoric boundary
in the woodland to the south east of Moorsome Farm and the telegraph pole
situated within the monastic grange; however, the ground beneath all these
features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or
multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances varying between
less than 1km to over 10km. They survive as earthworks or as linear features
visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs or as a combination of both. The
evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrate that
their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although
they may have been re-used later.
The scale of many linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were
constructed by large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries
in the landscape; their impressive scale displaying the corporate prestige of
their builders. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious
associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of those
groups who constructed them. Linear earthworks are of considerable importance
for the analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age; all well
preserved examples will normally merit statutory protection.

Round barrows are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period
to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period
2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes
ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in
isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials
in later periods. Often superficially similar, although differing widely
in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of
burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving examples recorded
nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring across most
of Britain, including the Wessex area where it is often possible to
classify them more closely, for example as bowl or bell barrows. Often
occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the
modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as
a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs
and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities.
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.
The eastern Tabular Hills is an area which has many networks of
prehistoric land boundaries. These are thought to represent systems of
territorial land division which were constructed to augment natural
divisions of the landscape by river valleys and watersheds. The Dalby
Forest and Scamridge areas have a particular concentration which is
thought to have originated in the Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age,
earlier than most other prehistoric boundary systems on the Tabular Hills.
The networks within this concentration, and many of their component
boundaries, are notably complex and are of considerable importance for
understanding the development of later prehistoric society in eastern
Despite limited disturbance, the prehistoric linear boundary and
associated features including a medieval monastic grange, north, east and
south east of Moorsome Farm have survived well. Significant information
will be preserved about the date, original form and the nature and
duration of use of the prehistoric boundary and its associated features.
Stratigraphic relationships will survive between the different components
of the prehistoric boundary and between the prehistoric boundary and the
associated features and these will provide evidence for the sequence of
construction and development of the monument. Evidence for the
contemporary environment and economy will be preserved within the lower
fills of the various ditches. Evidence for earlier land use will be
preserved in the old ground surface beneath the different banks and barrow
mounds. The form of the northern end of the prehistoric boundary is not
paralleled by any other boundary in the country. It demonstrates the
diversity and complexity of prehistoric land division and the significance
that prehistoric boundaries continued to hold in the landscape during
later periods.
The earthworks and foundations of the monastic grange have not been
disturbed and are in a very good state of preservation. The archaeological
deposits within the buildings and enclosures will contain information
which will further our understanding of monastic sheep farming on the
Tabular Hills. The well at the bottom of Wy Dale will contain waterlogged
deposits which will also preserve important environmental evidence. The
grange is located in an area which is known to have had two other
specialised sheep farms belonging to different monastic establishments.
The association with these other granges will provide insight into the
relationship between the different monastic houses and demonstrates the
intensity of sheep farming and its importance to the rural economy of the
Tabular Hills during the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 47-51
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 50-51
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 47-49
Spratt, D A, Harrison, B J D, The North York Moors Landscape Heritage, (1989), 88-94
Spratt, D A, Harrison, B J D, The North York Moors Landscape Heritage, (1989), 88-94
Drummond, B G, Spratt, D A, 'Ryedale Historian' in Cockmoor Dykes and rabbit warrening, , Vol. 12, (1984), 22-30
Moorhouse, S, 'The Archaeology of Rural Monasteries' in Monastic Estates their Composition and Development, , Vol. BAR 203, (1989), 29-81
Rutter, J G, 'Transactions of the Scarborough and District Archaeological Soc' in A Survey Of Linear Earthworks And Associated Enclosures In NE, (1965), 4-13
Rutter, J G, 'Transactions of the Scarborough and District Archaeological Soc' in A Survey Of Linear Earthworks And Associated Enclosures In NE, (1965), 4-13
Rutter, J G, 'Transactions of the Scarborough and District Archaeological Soc' in A Survey Of Linear Earthworks And Associated Enclosures In NE, , Vol. 2, no.10, (1967), 23-24
ANY 181/28, (1984)
Pacitto, A L, AM107, (1983)
SF 1677/373, (1979)
Title: 1st Edition 6" Ordnance Survey sheet 92
Source Date: 1848

Title: 2nd Edition 25" Ordnance Survey sheet 92/7
Source Date: 1910

Source: Historic England

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