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Roxby Hill manorial complex and associated ridge and furrow earthworks

A Scheduled Monument in Thornton-le-Dale, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2354 / 54°14'7"N

Longitude: -0.7326 / 0°43'57"W

OS Eastings: 482703.293832

OS Northings: 482931.421889

OS Grid: SE827829

Mapcode National: GBR RMBG.5H

Mapcode Global: WHF9X.QSBX

Entry Name: Roxby Hill manorial complex and associated ridge and furrow earthworks

Scheduled Date: 15 April 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021270

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35566

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Thornton-le-Dale

Built-Up Area: Thornton-le-Dale

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire


The monument includes the site of the medieval manorial complex on Roxby
Hill, sometimes referred to as Roxby Hall. This site lies immediately to
the west of Thornton-le-Dale, on the south side of the A170 Pickering to
Scarborough road. The area around the manorial complex is surrounded by
evidence of medieval cultivation in the form of ridge and furrow
earthworks (the remains of the strips worked by individual peasants within
medieval communal fields). To the west and east sides of the manor house
site, these cultivation strips fall within the area of protection.

The manor house was probably constructed in the late 13th century, on a
new site west of the settlements in the valley at Thornton-le-Dale, on
land hitherto under ridge and furrow cultivation. Its nucleus comprised a
trapezoid embanked enclosure subdivided internally, and with the manor
house situated towards the southern end, approached by a steep hollow way
to its south.

The manorial complex occupies most of the eastern half of the monument.
The first manor house was constructed in the late 13th century and this
was replaced by a new complex between the 1540s and the 1560s, at the
instigation of Sir Richard Cholmley. This consisted of a major
refurbishment involving the construction of a substantial mansion with a
hall, a gallery, and enough accommodation for a large family and 50 or 60
servants. There was also a formal replanning of the grounds to incorporate
boundary modifications, an imposing new west entrance and probably a
garden with terraces and embanked garths.

Further additions were subsequently made to the house and its wings which
encroached on the adjacent garths. These later alterations may be
reasonably attributed to Henry Cholmley (probably between 1586 and 1598)
and also probably involved the resiting of the entrance to the east side
of the compound, and perhaps the setting out of additional garden
features. By Henry's death in 1615/16 Roxby Hall had not been used as a
family residence for over a decade and some dismantling may have already
commenced. By around 1632, the front wings, the east back wing, part of
the main block and an outbuilding had already been demolished. By the
1650s the house was almost totally destroyed. The site reverted to pasture
and has remained so ever since, apart from a short-lived possible attempt
to cultivate or drain a small area of the North Close.

The substantial earthworks clearly indicate the position of the later
manor house, together with its ranges of outbuildings and enclosures.
Surrounding the manor house site are a series of embanked compounds,
evidently enclosed garden areas. Circuit boundary banks and hollow ways
also indicate both the extent of the complex and its access means,
although these altered over time. The manorial complex was constructed on
an existing area of ridge and furrow earthworks running north to south
along the higher ground, traces of which can still be detected to the east
of the complex where it forms several strips. Beyond the western
boundaries of the manorial complex the ground slopes away to the west
showing a pronounced pattern of ridge and furrow running down the slope.

Taken together, the monument includes the earthworks of a well-preserved
manorial complex of several periods, together with associated structures
and enclosures. It lies within a distinct landscape of ridge and furrow
that both preceded and serviced its early phases. The outstanding
earthworks are supported by good documentary evidence and an excellent
estate map of around 1632.

The monument is enclosed by hedges and fences that are excluded from
the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Medieval manorial settlements, comprising small groups of houses with
associated gardens, yards and paddocks, supported communities devoted
primarily to agriculture, and acted as the foci for manorial administration.
Although the sites of many of these settlements have been occupied
continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were
abandoned at some time during the medieval and post-medieval periods,
particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries. The reasons for desertion
were varied but often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land-
use such as enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of
widespread epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their
abandonment, these settlements are frequently undisturbed by later occupation
and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits, providing information on
the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming economy, and on the
structure and changing fortunes of manorial communities.

Roxby Hill is a particularly good example of a deserted medieval manorial
settlement at the edge of a surviving village. The earthwork features
survive in good condition and are set within a distinct agricultural
landscape that is virtually free from later development. In addition, good
documentary evidence and a detailed survey combine to make this an
exceptional site for studying the archaeological evidence that could shed
important light on manorial settlements.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Swan, V G, Mackay, A, 'From Cornwall to Caithness: Some Aspects of British Field Arch.' in Roxby Hill, Thornton Dale: the lost village of Roxby?, (1989), 183-195
Swan, V G, Mackay, A, 'From Cornwall to Caithness: Some Aspects of British Field Arch.' in Roxby Hill, Thornton Dale: the lost village of Roxby?, (1989), 183-195

Source: Historic England

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