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St Giles medieval hospital, post-medieval farmstead and Iron Age occupation site immediately north of St Giles Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Brough with St. Giles, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.3913 / 54°23'28"N

Longitude: -1.6783 / 1°40'41"W

OS Eastings: 420985.671908

OS Northings: 499579.732081

OS Grid: SE209995

Mapcode National: GBR JKQN.FM

Mapcode Global: WHC6F.6W2G

Entry Name: St Giles medieval hospital, post-medieval farmstead and Iron Age occupation site immediately north of St Giles Farm

Scheduled Date: 23 July 1946

Last Amended: 22 December 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021210

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34735

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Brough with St. Giles

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Catterick St Anne

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


The monument includes earthwork and associated buried remains of a small
rural medieval hospital that overlies the buried remains of an Iron Age
occupation site. It also includes the remains of the home farm associated
with the hospital together with the surviving earthworks of its field
system. The hospital site was reused as a farm in the post-medieval period
and the earthworks and buried remains of this are also included in the
scheduling. The monument lies on the south bank of the River Swale, north
of the modern St Giles Farm, 2km west of Catterick Bridge.

The monument was the subject of detailed study in 1988-90, including the
excavation of an area threatened by river erosion. As a result much is
known about the site, mainly published by Peter Cardwell in the
Archaeological Journal for 1995.

Although it is not known precisely when the hospital was founded, it is
referred to in documents from the late 12th century. It was normally known
as St Giles by Brompton Bridge as it was established next to one of the
few bridges over the Swale. Medieval hospitals were quite frequently
dedicated to St Giles, being the patron saint of cripples. Documentary and
excavation evidence suggest that the hospital fulfilled two functions: As
a residence for `infirm brothers', including lepers; and providing
hospitality to travellers with a chapel and probably accommodation. This
latter function would have generated a regular source of revenue, although
the hospital also held some land that was farmed. A deed of circa 1280
notes that at least some of this land was leased to local farmers.
Excavation evidence shows that the hospital site underwent many
alterations and changes of layout through its history. Initially only the
chapel was stone built, the other buildings being timber framed. The
hospital expanded in the 13th century, and took in women as well as men.
In the 14th century a stone hall and dovecote were built north of the
chapel, probably mainly for the benefit of travellers. A little later at
least two more stone buildings were constructed in the western part of the
complex. However, following the construction of Catterick Bridge in circa
1422, the fortunes of St Giles appears to have declined. The last
documentary reference to the hospital is in 1467, although it had probably
largely ceased to function in the 1440s. The site then seems to have lain
derelict for about 150-200 years until it was reused as a farmstead with
the repair and adaptation of some of the stone buildings, the chapel for
instance being reused as a byre. St Giles is first mentioned as a farm in
a deed dated 1653-54 when it was owned by John Lawson, an descendant of
the main builder of Catterick Bridge. Both the documentary evidence and
that uncovered by the excavation suggest that the occupants of the
farmstead were relatively affluent with the lifestyle of a gentleman
rather than a more common farmer. However the excavation also uncovered a
wide range of evidence pointing to the agricultural activities of the
farmstead. In the early 18th century the farmhouse was modernised but was
then abandoned when the farm was moved to its current site on higher
ground to the south. This move took place sometime between 1727 and 1771,
possibly following the major flood in 1753.

The hospital and post-medieval farm lie at the western end of a river
terrace, at the northern end of a gully that runs down from the escarpment
to the south. This gully way was used by a track leading to the bridge
with the chapel to its east and the infirmary and other domestic buildings
to the west. A series of other tracks approached the bridge from the south
east, although most are overlain by later boundary banks thought to be
related to the post-medieval farm. One of these tracks is still used and
is marked on the 1:10,000 map. No trace of the bridge, which in 1606 was
in a state of `great decay', can now be identified, but the medieval road
can still be traced in places north of the river. The excavated walls of
the chapel still stand up to 0.4m with other structures surviving as
upstanding earthworks. This includes a medieval stone building that lay
almost entirely outside the area excavated in 1988-90 some 30m WSW of the
chapel. The earthworks suggest that there are at least two more major
buildings within this area that are still unexcavated. The hospital's
cemetery lay mainly to the south of the chapel and only a small proportion
of this was excavated, again most still survives undisturbed. To the south
east of the chapel there is a further unexcavated building platform and
earthworks interpreted as a post-medieval corn drying kiln. On top of the
escarpment, just west of the gully, there is another group of earthworks.
This is thought to be the remains of the St Giles' home farm, which is
thought to have allowed the hospital to be largely self-sufficient. Ridge
and furrow originating from the medieval arable agriculture still survives
to the west and south east of these earthworks. These areas are also
included in the monument.

During the excavation of the chapel, a small area was investigated
underlying the medieval remains. This revealed part of a structure and
other material including hearth debris and pottery. These remains suggest
that a well-preserved Iron Age occupation site of around the third century
BC underlies the medieval hospital.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling: these are the
electric powerline and the telegraph poles on which it is carried, the
interpretation boards and their stone supports as well as all modern
fences, stiles, gates, water troughs, and sign posts; although the ground
beneath all these features is included. Fence lines defining the
boundaries of the monument lie immediately outside the protected area.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A medieval hospital is a group of buildings housing a religious or secular
institution which provided spiritual and medical care. The idea for such
institutions originated in the Anglo-Saxon period although the first definite
foundations were created by Anglo-Norman bishops and queens in the
11th century. Documentary sources indicate that by the mid 16th century there
were around 800 hospitals. A further 300 are also thought to have existed but
had fallen out of use by this date. Half of the hospitals were suppressed by
1539 as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Some smaller institutions
survived until 1547 when they were dissolved by Edward VI. Many of these
smaller hospitals survived as almshouses, some up to the present day. Despite
the large number of hospitals known from documentary sources to have existed,
generally only the larger religious ones have been exactly located. Few
hospitals retain upstanding remains and very few have been examined by
excavation. In view of these factors all positively identified hospitals
retaining significant medieval remains will be identified as nationally

St Giles Hospital, being a small rural establishment, is of a very rarely
identified class of monument. The information provided by the
investigations in 1988-90 give the monument even greater significance and
the surviving remains will retain additional important information.

Farmsteads, normally occupied by only one or two families and comprising
small groups of buildings with attached yards, gardens and enclosures,
were a characteristic feature of the medieval and post medieval rural
landscape. They occur throughout the country, the intensity of their
distribution determined by local topography and the nature of the
agricultural system prevalent within the region. The sites of many
farmsteads have been occupied down to the present day but others were
abandoned at various times in the past. Farmsteads are a common and
long-lived monument type; the archaeological deposits on those which were
abandoned are often well-preserved and provide important information on
regional and national settlement patterns and farming economies, and on
changes in these through time. The monument includes the remains of two
farmsteads, the hospital's home farm on top of the escarpment and the
post-medieval farm that occupied the site of the hospital on the river
terrace. Excavation has uncovered some of the remains of the later farm
providing a good insight into the lifestyle and agricultural developments
of the 17th and 18th centuries. Comparison with the remains of the
medieval farmstead adds to the site's importance. The survival of areas of
ridge and furrow adds to the setting of the rest of the monument.

The monument is only one of a small handful of sites between the Dales and
North York Moors where evidence of Iron Age settlement has been positively
identified. Although its nature and extent remains unknown, concealed
beneath the medieval and later earthworks, it is likely to be a farmstead
or small rural settlement, potentially of national importance in its own

Source: Historic England

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