Implementation: Malton

The Town and its buildings:

The overall research strategy for the Yorkshire Wolds Project identifies the medieval-modern transition as a key area for examination, a period during which we should seek to "to understand the significance of regional landscapes and urban foci within medieval economy and society and to establish to what extent they inform the structure of the post-medieval landscape."

This project, centred on Malton, will seek to take this agenda forward. Malton was the primary urban settlement in the Wolds, throughout the historic period. It was a centre of Roman settlement, which was focused on the fort in Old Malton, dating from c.AD 79 through to the fourth century, and the industrial sites, particualrly kilns, found at Norton and nearby Crambeck (Robinson 1978: 5-12). Malton also has an important, but less well understood, early medieval settlement of the fifth century, and subsequent development during the Anglian and Viking periods, when a pre-Conquest church and mill were established at Old Malton.

This project, however, focuses on the development of medieval and post-medieval Malton. The project is interested both in Old Malton, the site of the Manor, the Priory and associated later historic buildings such as the castle, which features in a Time Team programme in 1997. The project is also interested in New Malton, which was planned and rebuilt during the 12th century, and whose current plan preserves medieval and historic burgage plots, market places and a range of domestic and public buildings. The discovery of large numbers of surviving undercrofts in 2005 by Nigel Copsey, the stonemson of the Fitzwilliam Estate has provided us with an opportunity to re-examine the topography, morphology and standing buildings of this important provincial market town.

Background and Objectives:

Malton lies in the south-west corner of the Vale of Pickering. To the west are the Howardian Hills and to the east, the north-western edge of the Yorkshire Wolds. The two are separated by the Kirkham Gorge and the river Derwent which runs through it. At one end of this gorge are the small towns of Malton and Norton; the village of Old Malton lies a little further north-east. Much of the settlement lies above the 100 foot contour, and coincides with outcrops of oolitic limestone, which have provided an important source of building stone, although the centre of Malton is located in a trough and lies on a gravel deposit. The geology and topography of the area ensured that Malton and nearby Norton occupy a nodal position in relation to surrounding rural settlements and trade routes, throughout the historic period.

Archaeological work.
Although antiquarians such as John Leland, Celia Fiennes and Dugdale and more locally, Dickinson (1730) commented on the character of the antiquities of Malton, the earliest systematic recording of its archaeology dates to the beginning of the nineteenth century, in the accounts of excavations at the Roman fort and finds and other information emerging from railway cuttings, drainage works and other developments, in the writings of Hinderwell and Captain Copperthwaite, agent of Earl Fitzwilliam. From the 1860s onwards Charles Monkman also published accounts of archaeological discoveries in the Malton Messenger. During the twentieth century important work on the Roman fort was carried out by Corder and Kirk (1930) and observations made during the development of new housing estates in the 1940s, by Whitley and Hayes. The Victoria County History (1914) is a good starting point and a number of documents and anecdotes about the toen were drawn together by Huddlestone (1962). A useful summary of archaeological work, to 1978, is provided by Robinson's Archaeological Work in Malton and Norton: Past, Present and Future (1978). The Malton Museum and its Friends Association house important collections from the town and surrounding areas, including West Heslerton and Wharram Percy.

Old Malton.
To date, there has been surprisingly little historical or archaeological evidence to shed light on the establishment of the castle and the foundation of the town and borough of Old and New Malton (Victoria County History 1914: 529-41). The buildings and landscapes of the manor of Old Malton would repay much closer study (VCH 1914: 537-541).
The castle. A stone castle is thought to have been built by Eustace fitz John in the early twelfth century, but this may well overlie an earlier motte and bailey. It occupies a well-defended position making use of some of the existing earthworks associated with the Roman fort, overlooking the river Derwent. The castle was beseiged but escaped destruction after the Battle of the Standard in 1138, and although King John ordered its destruction, it seems to have been quickly restored, before it was again destroyed by Robert de Brus in 1322. Leland (1506-1562), the sixteenth-century Antiquarian, described it as a ruin. In c.1600 it was demolished to make way for a Jacobean mansion, which, in a bizarre twist due to a family disagreement about inheritance, was ordered to be demolished stone yb stone, and the proceeds divided between two sisters, in 1675. All that remains today is the large Lodge and wall facing Old Maltongate, but earlier remains were visible and discussed by antiquarians such as Hinderwell (1798) and Dickinson (1730) (see also Robinson 1978: 31; Booth 1978).

Thre Priory. Near the castle are the remains of St. Mary's, a Gilbertine monastery founded between 1147-1154 by Eustace Fitz-John, a close friend of Henry I. The Gilbertines are the only English Monastic order, founded in 1131 by Saint Gilbert of Sempringham (Lincs), and totalling 26 houses. The Order combined a house of Canons (following the Augustinian Rule) and a houe of Nuns (following the Cistercian Rule). UIn these double houses, however, no communication however, was allowed between the canons and the nuns; even within the chhurch they were divided by a wall! The claustral buildings of the Canons and Nuns were also seperate. The best example of the plan locally is Watton Priory, in the East Riding, as well as St. Andrew, York. St. Mary's, Malton, however, was built only for canons, not for nuns, so the plan is simpler and of a single claustral range.

The church. The monastic church appears to have been built from c.1180 onwards and has much to telll us about the development of Gothic architecture. Construction started at the east end and moved westwards, with the nave and caustral buildings being finished around 1190 and the West Front, by c.1200. This means that the building spanned one of the most interesting periods of the Gothic sytle of architecture, namely the transition from Romanesque< to Early English (known therefore often as 'transitional' architecture). The church was further altered in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, in the style of Gothic known as Perpendicular.
Initially, the Priory was protected by Archbishop Holgate However, the Priory fell victim to the the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII. the Priory was involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536. We know a little bit about its state at that time form the reports of Henry's 'Commissioners' ( After the Dissolution, it was bought in 1540 by Archbishop Holgate, then Bishop of Llandaff but soon to become Archbishop of York. The church then became a parish church for Old Malton, and the chancel and nave of the present parish church preserve the six western bays of the monastic church nave. extensive, and controlversial restoration in the 19th century preserves what we see topday.

The buildings of the Priory remain one of the most attractive foci for research, preserved in the standing fabric of the parish church and nearby Abbey House, evidently built out of the stonework of the Priory. In 2007 we will explore the remains of an undercroft beaneath Abbey House which has been suggested to have been located beneath the Refectory of the Priory.

New Malton.
The settlement of New Malton lies close to the old ford across the river Derwent and the construction of a bridge here during the twelfth century (Robinson 1978: 13), would have greatly enhanced its commercial potential. References to the chapels of St. Leonard and St. Michael pre-dating the foundation of the Priory in Old Malton c.1150, suggest that there was some form of settlement in New Malton, which may be that recorded as destroyed by the supporters of Stephen in his war with Matilda, in 1138. Although burnt layers observed in Yorkersgate and Wheelgate in the nineteenth century were interpreted as evidence of this conflagration (Dugdale 1819), Robinson (1978: 14) suggests that they may date to a later fire in and around the marketplace.

The borough of New Malton was founded after 1138, and archaeological evidence of the layout of streets, marketplace and burgage plots reveals that they were deiberately and regularly planned, as were many medieval urban settlements (Butler 1976; Lilley 2002; Hindle 1990; Schofield and Vince 2003). A stone wall (as yet undated) was constructed around much of its perimeter, and fragments of this still survive (see fig. 6 and catalogue nos 157, 158 in Robinson 1978). The principal streets and burgage plots appear to be a variation of a grid:

The marketplace containing St. Michael's chapel is situated slightly off-centre within this grid. Individual burgage plots are more difficult to identify, but short burgage plots to north-west of the marketplace may be preserved in the shape of later inn-yards and others might well be identified through map regression and the detailed analysis of property boundaries and standing buildings. As its name suggests, Newbeggin was originally on the edge of the settlement.

Medieval buildings. Until recently, it was thought that there were few surviving medieval buildings in Malton, including the churches of St. Leonard's, St, Michael's and a vaulted undercroft under the Cross keys pub, Wheelgate. The undercroft is date by Pevsner to the fifteenth century, and is argued to have been part of one of three hospitals connected with the Gilbertine Priory. However, rumours of other surviving undercrofts, in New Malton and Old Malton abounded. In 2005 a conservation stonemason, Nigel Copsey, invited the Department to become involved in recording one located under the Talbot Hotel, on Yorkersgate. In 2006, this building will be first to be studied as part of the 'Malton undercrofts' project, run by Kate Giles, Jane Grenville and Aleks McClain, in conjunction with Nigel Copsey and the Fitzwilliam Estate. It is hoped that these buildings will shed light on the important trading and economic functions of Malton. The first references to the market were recorded in 1283, and a wide range of craftsmen, including goldsmiths, masons and mercers, wool merchants and other crafts, such as butchers who contributed to the prosperity of the town.

Post-medieval development.Perhaps because Malton was only ever moderately-prosperous, it was able to weather the problems experienced by York and many other major cities, as a result of the decline of the wool, and rise of the cloth trade in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and the dissolution of the Priory. It was probably its function as a regional market centre which enabled it to do this, and to continue to prosper until the early seventeenth century, when the burgesses lost their privileges and the town was acquired by William Lord Eure (1617), and when the civil war took its toll on the royal garrison stationed at Malton (Robinson 1978: 17). The town was revived, partly as a market centre for the improved agricultural lands of the Wolds, and partly as a result of the Derwent Navigation Act of 1702, which meant that it was located at the head of a navigable river by 1724, linking the town with Hull and Leeds, until 1840, when the advent of the railway heralded the decline of the river. These changes had an important impact on the river frontages, residential, commercial and public buildings of the town, which can be mapped through comparisons of early cartographic sources, such as Dickinson's map of 1730 and the OS survey of 1850, for example, but also through its surviving standing buildings. Another process of interest in the light of the Wolds agendas is the relatively early enclosure of the open fields of Old and New Malton, from the late sixteenth century onwards.

In line with the overall Wolds research design for the medieval-historic period, the objectives of the Malton project are:

Methodology for Data Gathering and Processing:

In order to address the project aims a range of investigative techniques will be employed in 2006-7.

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