Discussion of the Church
Cliff Farm Excavations 1924 – 1926 & 1956
(See Appendix 2 for a
full copy of the report & Appendix 4 for a copy of the surviving plan).
It would be
unnecessary to rewrite the 1927 report in its entirety, so this section’s aim is
merely to draw out the main points of interest and summarise unclear parts, such
as features shown on the surviving field plan.
The report details
much about the Buck Family’s Manor house but proceeds to discuss features
located in the foundations of the original 15th century structure.
The report also discusses materials and finds from within the site that they
felt were of an earlier period and as such these two ideas will form the basis
of two sub sections within this research. The term ‘monastic’ will be used in
inverted commas at all times throughout these sections as at the present time
this is speculation based on 80 year old evidence.
Structures earlier in date
than the Buck Manor House
The principle room
within the manor house which was approximately 40’ by 17’6” was apparently was
in very close alignment to the ‘monastic’ structure beneath it. The Eastern
wall apparently had part of its footing on fallen ‘monastic’ stonework. An
overhang of 6 inches was present on the northern wall in comparison to the
earlier stone courses and on the opposite southern wall a ‘slight overlap’ was
present (Clay, 1927: 3). This was below a large fireplace approximately
10’6” wide by 3’6” deep. The back to the fireplace was ‘rough’ but in their
opinion was an additional covering of the earlier high quality, dressed
stonework. The fireplace moulding was also apparently of a much higher quality
than the rest of the surviving stonework leading them to believe that it was
also from an earlier structure. Clay, Robson and Smith imply here that there
was some form of structure chronologically in between the monastic structure and
the Buck’s mansion that the Buck family reused and adapted in the construction
of their house. They suggest at one point that it may have been a tithe barn
but are very evasive about being pinned down to any one answer (Clay,
1927: 7). Finally, it is worth noting that the eastern end of the structure is
in very close alignment to that of the eastern end of St. Oswald’s (see
Appendix 4 for details) perhaps indicating that the Bucks manor was built
directly on top of the original church in Filey.
The next major
feature within the site is a wall that runs northward from the western end of
the principle room. By looking at the plan produced by the excavators this
seems to be one of the earliest structures on the site. A circular structure
(which will be discussed later) is seen to be butted up against this northward
wall on the north side of the principle room. This in itself is critical
because this circular structure is within the foundations of the Buck House.
The only reference made to the wall by the report is that it contains more than
one type of stonework i.e. that it has been rebuilt at some point, possibly
within the Buck period.
structure was about 13’ in diameter and the original shape of which was still
intact. The excavators put forward several opinions suggested by themselves and
others as to the purpose of this structure. These were: a lime kiln, a
‘staddle’ for a haystack, a dove cote, the base of a tower, a lily pond for the
original house (???) and finally the base of a windmill. They propose that the
last is the most likely is in the original charter to Bridlington Priory there
is granted ‘the Church of Filey, and a mill’. This document was written during
the reign of Henry I (probably between 1100 and 1135).
An intriguing pile
of ‘rough stones under the thorns’ is mentioned in the extreme north east corner
of the excavation area (Clay, 1927: 5) and suggestion is made that these are the
remains of certain parts of the site. Over the centuries it had been thoroughly
picked over and much of the original stonework had been removed and reused
elsewhere; the authors suggest that this was left over after one haul.
In the north-west
corner of the site, near to the circular structure the remains of two ovens or
kilns were found surrounded by an extremely localised patch of reddish clay,
unlike anywhere else on the site. The authors cannot conclude whether it was
for domestic purposes or alternatively for tile and pottery production. They
are not clear whether it is at a similar level to that of the Buck house or to
the structures below.
The surveyor, Robson
mentions that a wall is supposed to have connected to the wall of the northern
Transept of St. Oswald’s but there is no mention of this within the report, or
on the site plan (see Appendix 2).
A final and most
interesting structure was also uncovered within inches of the present day church
wall boundary. This consisted of the remains of two fireplaces built back to
back, one side stretching out northwards away from the church, but the other
stretching straight towards the north transept of the church. These fireplaces
formed the footing of part of the boundary wall but had several sections already
robbed out. The excavators were told that these fireplaces were part of a later
structure and that they were not part of even the Buck period house but they
appropriately raise the question: who would possibly be allowed to build a
structure / dwelling within just a few feet of a church? The conclusion they
reach is that these are part of an earlier structure possibly connected to a
very small unrecorded priory that St. Oswald’s was built next to. It would also
fit that if a settlement was present around the area, for example quarrying,
then they would logically have some form of place of worship there too. A point
to note in conjunction with this is the 8th century gravestone that
currently resides in St. Oswald’s today – is this connected in some way to these
earlier structures as well?