Gilbertine ruins (c) WDLPS, 2023
St Oswald’s churchyard contains the ruins of a medieval Gilbertine house or cell. Farmland in the area was granted to the canons of Watton Priory (east Yorkshire) in the 12th century. The buildings housed a master and three canons from the main priory who managed the monastic estate. There would have also probably been lay brothers who did the actual farm work. Valuable agricultural products such as wool and butter would have been carried to distant markets on the backs of packhorses.
The cell was founded in 1366 and was in use until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The Gilbertine Order was the only order to originate in England.
The ruins were partially excavated in the 1920s, and further investigation in the 1980s found that the complex was larger than what has been left exposed, with the remainder buildings surviving as buried foundations.
The adjacent church of St Oswald’s, predominantly rebuilt in 1744, has an unusual surviving interior, this includes inward facing pews, a three-tiered pulpit, two large prayer boards, as well as a stained glass window dedicated to Elizabeth Gaunt – the last female burnt at Tyburn for the Protestant cause.
In the wider vicinity there are a number of pillow mounds (medieval rabbit warrens) and fish ponds, which are thought to be connected to the monastic cell. In 1252 King Henry III granted the monks of Watton a free warren in Ravenstonedale among other areas.
Historic England, https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1004590
YDNPA, A Way Through: Ravenstonedale (2023)