Ryedale District Council

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Local history and heritage

NYCCFor information about Archeology please visit the conservation pages on the North Yorkshire County Council website.

For information about Archives and Archives withdrawals please Libraries and archives visit the North Yorkshire County Council website.


Ryedale has a rich heritage with many sites of interest which can be visited. The list below is not exhaustive, if you would like to see a particular site added to this page please contact the Creative Economy Officer.

For more information and sites to visit you can pick up a free copy of “RyeScape” (PDF, 2 pages, 1974kb), a map of arts, heritage, museums and other cultural highlights, at venues and Visitor Information Points across the District. You can also download it from the bottom of this page.

Howsham Mill is an 18th century watermill set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Malton. It was designed by John Carr of York as a garden folly in the Gothic style, and has been restored as an education centre. Events and workshops take place throughout the year, and it is a special and tranquil place to visit.

castle garden gateMalton Castle Garden is a five acre public park and is a scheduled ancient monument site with evidence of remains of a Roman fort, Malton Castle and a Jacobean Prodigy House underlying the ground. Special events are held throughout the year but the garden is free to enter every day.






Orchard Fields in Malton hold the remains of an important Roman cavalry fort. Finds from archaeological digs on the site are held by Malton Museum and the site is free to explore.


Malton Priory, in Old Malton, is a fragment of a rare example of a monastery of the Gilbertine Order, founded by Eustace fitz John in about 1150. What remains is the nave and one of the original two west towers – the nave still shows evidence of a serious fire in 1500 which led to a partial rebuilding.


The Vale of Pickering is the site of the post-glacial Lake Pickering and is important for its archaeology, including Britain's best known Mesolithic site at Star Carr. Recent excavation at West Heslerton has shown continuous human occupation since approximately 5000BC. The Vale of Pickering is the subject of a recent Statement of Significance, which can be downloaded here.


Rosedale, and the surrounding area of the North York Moors is a post-industrial landscape created by ironstone mining since Medieval times. Mining stopped in the 1920s, but many industrial ruins can still clearly be seen, and visited, throughout the valley. It is also possible to follow the spectacularly scenic route of the old ironstone railway on foot. For more information you can visit the Rosedale History Society website.


English Heritage manages a number of heritage sites in Ryedale including medieval Helmsley Castle and the 13th century motte and bailey Pickering Castle, which was used as a royal hunting lodge. It also looks after a number of important ecclesiastical ruins including Byland Abbey, which was one of the greatest monasteries in England; Rievaulx Abbey , founded in 1132 as the first Cistercian Abbey in the north; and Kirkham Priory, whose beautiful 12th century riverside ruins include a rare survival of an English Gothic gatehouse.


There are also a number of stately homes and gardens which welcome visitors. These include the beautiful manor house Nunnington Hall, which has an organic garden and an excellent programme of art exhibitions. Rievaulx Terrace and Temples, which is one of Yorkshire's finest landscaped gardens looking down on to the dramatic ruins of Rievaulx Abbey. Iconic Castle Howard, named as one of the world's top ten Grand Houses by the Lonely Planet and Scampston Hall which has a stunning walled garden designed by Piet Oudolf.

NYMR plansIf you are interested in knowing more about the history of the local area there are many local history societies. You will be able to find details at your local library.





If you are researching your family history you may want to contact Ryedale Family History Group. This group can help members with their research and also has a number of ongoing local history projects including the transcription of local Parish registers, recording monumental inscriptions and photographing/researching war memorials.

There are also a number of groups who have an interest in researching local figures who are important regionally, nationally and, in some cases, internationally. These include Francis Nicholson, known as the Father of Watercolour Painting, Joseph Foord, an 18th century hydraulic engineer and and Sir Herbert Read, an anarchist, poet and literary critic. You will find more information about these "Local Heroes" at Ryedale's museums and in local libraries.


The Arms were authorised by the College of Arms on 27 June 1975, but the letters patent were not received by the Council until 21 November 1977.

The composition of the Arms follows the normal method of designing Civic Heraldry in that the Arms allude to the area and interests of the District. In the case of Ryedale the Catherine Wheel is from the Arms of Walter Espec, Principal Land Owner of the District in the Middle Ages. The Wheel has nine spokes to signify the nine Councils that formed the new District, Flaxton, Helmsley Rural, Kirkbymoorside Rural, Malton Urban, Malton Rural, Norton Urban, Norton Rural, Pickering Urban and Pickering Rural.

The two roses of York are for the old East Riding and North Riding County Councils and the sheaf of Rye is allusive to the District name.

On the helmet is a mural crown to represent the castles in the district and on the crown a roman eagle with a flax flower. Behind the eagle is a Palmer's staff from the Arms of Malton Priory and a Crozier for St. Chad and his brother St. Cedd. The two Bishop Saints being founders of the Abbey of Lastingham in the 7th century.

On the left of the Shield is a Monk of the Cistercian Order and on the right a Clerk in Holy Orders.

The motto means ' A man passes on to better things whilst earth remains inviolate'


The Council has also been granted a Badge, this consists of nine ears of Rye encircled by a mural of crown.



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Ryedale District Council
Ryedale House, Old Malton Road
Malton, North Yorkshire
YO17 7HH

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