Sherburn in Elmet Hall Garth

Has been described as a Certain Palace (Bishop)

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameSherburn in Elmet Hall Garth
Alternative Names
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishSherburn in Elmet

Hall Garth, consists of a number of earthworks, including building platforms, wall lines, ditches, terraces and small quarrying scoops. It is identified as the site of the palace built on land given by King Athelstan to the Archbishopric of York. The monument lies on a north facing hillside, the crest of which is occupied by the parish church. Athelstan was the first king to have control over all of the English after overthrowing the Scandinavian kingdom of York in 927. In 937 he defeated an alliance of Scots and Scandinavians at the Battle of Brunanburh and as thanks for this victory he gave the manors at Sherburn and Cawood to the Archbishop of York. The manor house or palace at Sherburn was a high status site and was subsequently used as a hunting lodge by the Archbishops. There is documentary evidence that there was a wealthy Saxon church associated with the palace and the Domesday Book shows no drop in income for the manor, unlike most other areas of Yorkshire. The Saxon church was replaced c.1100 by a larger church which still stands immediately to the south of the monument, but the palace had fallen into ruin by 1361 when the then Archbishop, John Thoresby, ordered its demolition. The stone from the palace was then used in the building of the choir at York Minster. The monument retains a number of earthwork features, typically standing up to 0.5m high. The northern boundary of the monument is marked by a broad, straight,'U' shaped depression about 6m wide with a slight bank on its southern side. This is interpreted as the partially silted boundary ditch of the archbishop's palace. Close to the western side of the monument there is a large pond, about 10m by 20m, surrounded by a slight bank and cut into the rising ground to the south of the vallum

Either side of this pond and to its south, there is a series of low breaks of slope running east to west, so that the rising ground forms three broad terraces up to an old field boundary that runs between the south west corner of the field and the junction of St John's Lane and Church Hill to the east. These terraces extend eastwards to within about 80m of St John's Lane where there is an area up to 30m wide extending from the vallum southwards up the hill to the boundary with the churchyard. This area contains a number of building platforms and the earthworks of wall lines. To the east of these building remains there are a number of broad depressions and, to the south of the old field boundary where the ground rises steeply, there are a number of small quarrying scoops up to 4m wide. Anglo-Saxon occupation around the site was probably more extensive than the area of the monument. However, the position, nature and extent of any further remains are not fully understood. (Scheduling Report)

"Stone from the abandoned manor at Sherburn in Elmet being offered by (bishop) Thoresby in 1363 for reuse at York Minster, though a new fortified house was built nearby at Rest Park twenty years later" (Emery–ref. Raine)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSE488336
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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 53° 47' 47.76" Longitude -1° 15' 35.79"

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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 53° 47' 47.76" Longitude -1° 15' 35.79"

View full Sized Image
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 53° 47' 47.76" Longitude -1° 15' 35.79"

View full Sized Image

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  • Turner, Maurice, 2004, Yorkshire Castles: Exploring Historic Yorkshire (Otley: Westbury Publishing) p. 246
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 168, 188
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 301
  • Le Patourel, H.E. Jean, 1973, The Moated Sites of Yorkshire (The Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph Series 5) p. 127
  • Niemeyer, N., 1911, 'Introductory Chapter' in Rait, R.S. (ed), English Episcopal Palaces (Province of York) (London; Constable & Co) p. 6 online copy
  • Wheater, W., 1882, The History of the Parishes of Sherburn and Cawood p. 10-12 online copy


  • 1910-11, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 21 p. 195-6

Primary Sources

  • Raine, J. (ed), 1858, Fabric Rolls of York Minster (1360-1639, with an Appendix, 1165-1704) (Surtees Society 35) p. 174-5 see online copy


  • Payne, Naomi, 2003, The medieval residences of the bishops of Bath and Wells, and Salisbury (PhD Thesis University of Bristol) Appendix B: List of Medieval Bishop's Palaces in England and Wales (available via EThOS)