Yorkshire Archaeological Society News  


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Easter opening hours

If you are planning to visit us please remember that Claremont is closed for Easter on Friday 18, Saturday 19, Sunday 20, Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 April 2014.

A message from the President

We are very sorry to report that our Hon General Secretary, Paul White, has had to tender his resignation as a result of ill health. Paul is at present in hospital, and we wish him a full and speedy recovery. We are extremely grateful for all that he has done for the Society and hope very much that, in due course, he will be able to return to help up in whatever way he feels able.

However, we are now in urgent need of a volunteer to become our new Hon General Secretary. If you are interested and would like to discuss the role further, please get in touch with Sylvia Thomas on yas.president@gmail.com


Excursion to Wressle Castle, Saturday 7 June 2014

Our next YAS excursion is to Wressle Castle with a talk on the history of the castle and a tour of the remains.

Click here for further details on the programme for the day and how to book.




YAS Excursions

You can read a report of the recent excursion to Ripon on the 2014 Highlights page.
For details of forthcoming excursions please see the Field Trips page.



Thanks to Airedale Computers

The Society is grateful to Airedale Computers who have kindly donated a refurbished pc and monitor for use at Claremont.



Yorkshire Dales National Park Day School at Grassington, Saturday 26 April 2014

The Yorkshire Dales National Park contains a wide variety of unique and fascinating historic landscapes of national importance, and a wealth of vernacular architecture. The annual day school at Grassington Town Hall offers to an oportunity to find out about the results of recent archaeological and historical survey and research across the Yorkshire Dales.

This year's talks include:

'Recent work on the Wharefedale henges' 'New light on Anglo-Saxon settlement in North Craven', and 'Quality of life at Marrick Priory'.

The charge is £12.50 for YAS members.

For more details and to book see the Yorkshire Dales National Park website.



Announcing the latest publication from the YAS

Twakefield court rolls 16he latest publication in the Wakefield Court Rolls Series is now available. This volume of more than 300 pages is an edition of the manorial court roll for the year 1812-13. The editor is Dr John A Hargreaves, well-known as the historian of Halifax. John has provided the text with a remarkably full battery of notes - over thirty pages of them - which greatly amplify our knowledge of the hundreds of individuals who pass through the pages of this court roll of two hundred years ago.

The range of characters is remarkable: from the duke of Leeds and the Earl of Strafford to the myriad of small businessmen who made up the backbone of the West Riding economy. These busy and independently-minded manufacturers and traders were individual in their religion as well, and an number of entries testify to the strength of chapel-going in the Riding.

The manor of Wakefield covered a huge area - around 130 square miles - in the heart of the West Riding. Remarkably, its records are also exceptional. They survive, to a large extent complete, for over 650 years from 1274 to 1925, when manorial courts ceased to be held. Recognising their great importance, three years go, the UK Commission of UNESCO enrolled the records of the manor on its National Register of the Memory of the World.

For seventy years the records have been in the safekeeping of the YAS. The Society has a section dedicated to the publication of the rolls. The early volumes are now newly republished by Cambridge University Press. Many of the sixteen volumes published since 1977 are still available for purchase from the YAS on-line shop.

You can buy a copy of the new volume for £20 (plus p & p) or subscribe to the series for £9 a year (£13 for overseas subscribers). Full details can be found on the website. Buy Now

Another volume will be published later this year. More information about it soon!



Retirement of Robert and Janet

leaving giftsThe Society showed their gratitude to Robert and Janet with the presentation of their leaving gifts on Friday 13 December 2013. Robert and Janet received a small gift each and a cheque made up from a collection of donations by members. They were also given a beautiful cake each, baked by Margaret of the Family History Section. We wish them a relaxing and enjoyable retirement and look forward to seeing them at Claremont as volunteers in the new year.




A big thank you to our volunteers

leaving partyTraditionally, at this time of year, the Society thanks its volunteers by holding a Christmas lunch. This year's volunteers' party was organised by Robert and Janet, to also mark their retirement from the library and archives after 16 years. There was a delicious buffet, one of Janet's fiendish quizzes, and a chance for volunteers, staff and management board members to chat.

A few years ago we began a 'volunteer of the year' award to recognise the contribution of our volunteers. This year's volunteer of the year is Morag Fyfe, who efficiently processes new journals and magazines coming into the library, so that they can be shelved and made available for consultation by readers.

The Society is very grateful to those who give their time and expertise for free to assist staff with running the library and archives. In the new year we hope to come up with new volunteer projects and find new ways for volunteers to support the Society's activities.




Our 150th anniversary celebrations in 2013

Thank you to everyone who helped to make our anniversary celebrations in 2013 a success – to the YAS's officers, staff, volunteers, our members and partner organisations who made putting on such a large and wide ranging group of activities and events possible. Thanks especially to our President, Sylvia Thomas; Margaret Tylee, YAS Publicity Officer; Nicola Thorpe at the WEA Inclusive Archaeology Education Project; Helen Langwick at Leeds City Museum; Anne Read, Curator at The Folly, and Dan Hicks and Carlotta Gardner at the Pitt Rivers Museum. You can read summaries of some of our anniversary events on the YAS 150 section of the website.


New reading room arrangement at Claremont

Treading roomhe rearrangement of furniture at Claremont is now complete, so that we have a new combined library and archive searchroom in the Sir Charles Clay Room. We hope that this provides a pleasant working environment and allows staff to be on hand to help both library and archive visitors more effectively.

The new tables and chairs was in part financed by a generous donation to be used towards the library.

In order to create a staff area at the top of the Clay Room we have closed off the first door so that the only entrance is from the central hallway next to the lockers.

The former archive searchroom now houses the library card catalogue and the archive lists. We have also been able to create working space for volunteers and groups, which can also be used as another meeting space when the catalogue does not need to be accessed.

Many thanks to all the volunteers who made the move run smoothly including Denise Hirschmann, Christine Farmer, Chris Blanchard, David Asquith and Morag Fyfe.



Brenda Telford

Brenda TelfordAs many members will know sadly Brenda Telford, a long time member and archive volunteer, died at the age of 84 in October 2013. Brenda kindly bequeathed her books on Yorkshire history and archaeology to the Society in her will. Those books in her collection which we do not hold in the YAS library will be added to our collections, whilst her nephew has allowed us to offer those we already have for sale to members with proceeds to go to the Society.

We are also grateful to Brenda's relatives who arranged for the collection at the funeral to be given to the Society in recognition of the importance of the YAS in Brenda's life. We were delighted to received donations from family and friends and the Upper Nene Archaeological Society. It is as yet undecided what exactly how the collection will be used, but we intend to put it towards purchasing an appropriate item for the library or archives at Claremont.


New opening hours at Claremont from 4 November 2013

New opening hours at Claremont from 4 November 2013
Monday (closed to public)
Tuesday 10.00 am - 5.30 pm
Wednesday 10.00 am - 5.30 pm
Thursday 10.00 am - 5.30 pm
Friday              (closed to public)                
Saturday              9.30 am - 5.00 pm                 


From November the YAS library and archives we will be closing all day on Friday. Whilst we regret having to reduce opening hours, it is being done so that staff can carry out important 'behind the scenes' work, which cannot be done whilst supervising the reading room. we also intend to use this time to look at modernising the library and to create more time to supervising volunteer projects.

These new opening hours will be in operation from now until the end of 2014, when the situation will be reviewed.



YAS in the news!

Eagle-eyed members may have spotted coverage of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society in serveral publications recently, most notably in the Yorkshire Post Magazine ('Antiques Roadshow' Sat 24 Aug) and the Dalesman Magazine.

The Dalesman's July issue featured an article on the exhibition in Settle ('The Past is Always with us' by) and the September issue begins a three part feature by Sebastian Oake and Margaret Tylee of the YAS's Industrial History Section on Yorkshire's textile mills.

Other places the YAS has appeared this year include: The Post Hole, Local History News, The Craven Herald, North Leeds Life, Kirkstall Matters.

The Society would like to reach out to as wide an audience as possible, if you have any ideas for suitable magazines to take articles or adverts please get in touch yas.president@gmail.com


History of YAS's archive collecting

The latest issue of Archives and Records (the Journal of the Archives and Records Association, vol 34, issue 1, Spring 2013) features an article by Kirsty McHugh and Brian Barber on the Yorkshire Archaeological Society's role in preserving Yorkshire's documentary heritage.

'Yorkshire archives and a league of gentlemen: the Yorkshire Archaeological Society and record-collecting 1863-2013' describes what kind of archives the Society has collected and why, and discusses the YAS's role within the context of archive services throughout Yorkshire.

Off-prints are available by email from Kirsty yas.archives@gmail.com


Michael Wood - as seen on tv, and now in the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal!

Viewers who have been following the programmes on BBC4 on the Anglo-Saxons by historian and broadcaster Michael Wood will want to know that you can also read his latest article in the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal.

The subject is the vexed question of the actual location of the Battle of Brunanburh. This key conflict - the ‘birthplace of Englishness’ - between the Anglo-Saxons and an invading Scottish and Irish-Scandinavian army took place in 937. But where?

Here, Michael Wood puts forward a new theory in 25 pages, placing the site of the battle on the River Went, and not on the Wirral. ‘Searching for Brunanburh: The Yorkshire Context of the ‘Great War’ of 937’. Remember! You read it in the YAJ first!

Buy YAJ Volume 85 now


Yorkshire Archaeological Journal  Volume 85 (2013)

This year’s journal has of articles on Yorkshire’s archaeology and history, spanning in date almost a thousand years and a remarkable variety in subject-matter.

Amongst them are two articles, one by the distinguished archaeologist, Professor John Collis, which survey aspects of the history of the YAS in the year of its 150th anniversary.

The historian and broadcaster Michael Wood, has written a new study of what has been called the greatest single battle in Anglo-Saxon history before 1066.

Rita Wood, the expert on Romanesque architecture in Yorkshire, whose county-wide study the YAS has recently published, contributes an article on the ancient parish church at Adel, near Leeds.  Archaeologist Ian Roberts and archivist Chtristopher Wittick, examine medieval Pontefract.

Professor David Hey offers a study of woollen-cloth making in Holmfirth, and there are articles on the Victorian architect, Joseph Hansom, more widely known as the inventor of the ‘Hansom’ cab, and the emergence of the Labour Party in Sheffield.

Amongst the reviews is a substantial critique by historian Margaret Faull of a work on place names, a study of the deserted village of Wharram Percy, the subject of an epoch-making Yorkshire excavation, and reviews of two important YAS publications: the latest volume in the Wakefield manor court rolls series and the major court case over 18th century Swaledale lead mining.

Click here for full contents
Buy Now

Aug 2013


Cambridge Library Collection and the YAS Record Series - A new venture for our anniversary year (2013)

As part of the celebrations for its 150th anniversary year, the YAS has been collaborating with the Cambridge Library Collection, a division of Cambridge University Press. This makes available again more than fifty of the titles which first appeared in the YAS Record Series from the 1880s to the 1990s. The reprints include the celebrated dozen volumes of Early Yorkshire Charters, and the five volumes of the earliest of the Wakefield manorial court rolls. Both of these series are landmarks in the society’s distinguished record of publications.

For full details and prices of the Cambridge reprints click here

A Notable Gift to the Library and Archives

One of the many achievements the Society can celebrate in its 150th year (2013) is the remarkable range of resources for the study of Yorkshire’s archaeology and history which it has accumulated at ‘Claremont’, its Leeds headquarters. Amongst these is a large library of printed works on Yorkshire archaeology and history, unrivalled in size or scope outside the British Library. Another is its substantial holdings of documents of all kinds on the whole of the historic county. The archives the Society holds range over many centuries and fill several miles of shelves.

Maintaining such facilities is expensive, so the Society is really pleased to acknowledge an anonymous donation of £1,000, which has been received towards the work of the library and archives. Such welcome generosity is of lasting benefit to readers now and in the future.

A Remarkable Bequest from Mr John Wade of Ilkley

In drawing up his will, Mr John Wade of Ilkley decided that he would like to remember the YAS amongst the charities that would benefit from his estate. After the death of his wife, Sheila, in October 2009, the Society was informed that it was fortunate enough to be one of his beneficiaries.

The process of carrying out his wishes is now drawing to completion, and the Society would like to announce, with great gratitude, that it has received a first payment of £79,000 from the estate.

Such a sum could not come at a more timely moment for the YAS. The Society relies wholly upon it members and well-wishers for its funding. It receives no contribution from public funds towards its work. Financing its exceptional resources is a continuing dilemma for its Hon. Treasurer and the Management Board. This is especially true at present, when the economic climate has had a real impact on the Society’s income.

Mr Wade thus joins that succession of donors stretching back to the very beginning of the Society. Their thoughtful and invaluable generosity has helped to safeguard the Society’s work in promoting the study of Yorkshire’s past.


A generous gift from an anonymous donor

The YAS relies for all its income upon voluntary sources to finance its varied work in promoting, publishing and preserving the archaeology and history of Yorkshire, England’s largest historic county. Making ends meet, especially in the present economic climate, is a perennial headache for the Hon. Treasurer.

So it is with the greatest of pleasure, and a very lively sense of gratitude, that we can now acknowledge a recent splendid gift, a cheque for £,3000, towards our work. The way in which the donation was received ensured that the donor remained anonymous.

The members of Management Board have decided that the only way in which they can express their thanks to our unknown benefactor is to announce our appreciation on the website. We can only hope that the donor looks at the website from time to time, and so will find this message when he or she does so.


Access to Brotherton Library collections for YAS members

The YAS has set up a reciprocal agreement with the University of Leeds which will allow YAS members to use the Brotherton Library collections for reference purposes.

From 1 March 2013 Individual and Associate YAS members will be able to use the Brotherton Library for reference purposes by showing their YAS Library Borrowing card. YAS members eligible to borrow books at Claremont can purchase a Borrowing Card, costing £1, from library staff at Claremont. Individual, Associate, Family, and Family Associate members of the YAS can apply for a Library Borrowing card - this card gives borrowing rights at Claremont (but not the Brotherton) as well as allowing access to the Brotherton Library for reference.

The Brotherton Library, located in the Parkinson Building, contains the main collections for the arts, social sciences and law.



New publication on twelfth-century Yorkshire

The latest volume in our occasional paper series is 'Romanesque Yorkshire' by Rita Wood

Whereas Pevsner described architecture after the Conquest as 'Norman' and 'late Norman', the inclusive term preferred nowadays would be Romanesque; in England this covers the period 1066 to 1200. The Romanesque style, in illumination and metalwork as well as architecture and its allied crafts, is recognisable throughout the Christian West and spans a longer period than is relevant in England, at least two centuries.

This volume is divided into two sections. Firstly a 31 page introduction featuring a glossary of architectural terms and map of Romanesque sites in Yorkshire also gives background information to Romanesque topics as these are experienced in Yorkshire. The text often suggests a few sites where features under discussion can be seen.

The second part of the volume is a gazetteer listing over 300 sites with appreciable Romanesque remains. Arranged by place name, the location of the site (usually a parish church) is given in brackets e.g. FOUNTAINS ABBEY (WR/SE 274 683/National Trust/90.B3). The book is fully illustrated with black and white plates and the photographs have been chosen to cover the range of work to be seen in the county and to illustrate as many as possible of the features described in the text.

This publication is available to buy through our online shop or by contacting Claremont or yas.shop@gmail.com.


YAS online developments

We can now accept online payments for photocopying, publication sales, membership renewal, research and excursions. We will also be launching our online shop later this year.
If you would like to comment on any aspect of our website or online activities please get in touch.

Please remember we are also now on Facebook.



The Yorkshire Archaeological Society is now on Facebook! Please find our page and "like" us. You will then be able to receive YAS news updates and information about events via Facebook.
If you have any feedback or ideas about how we can use our page please let us know.


Archive enquiries

Please note our new archive email address yas.archives@gmail.com .


Vernacular Buildings Reports

As many members may be aware copies of building reports made by the Yorkshire Vernacular Buildings Study Group are held in the YAS Archives. Afull list is now available of all those reports held at the YAS on our website. To make an appointment to view a report or request a copy please contact the archives. Please note the building name, parish/township, building report number and archive reference number when enquiring about reports.


Online archive guide

It is now possible to search the archive holdings on the YAS website.

The Guide provides an overview of the contents of the YAS’s collections. It currently covers all items deposited or gifted to the archives between 1867 and 2008.

The collection descriptions derive from the two published guides to YAS records; “Catalogue of Manuscript and Deeds in the Library of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society 1867-1931” by E.W. Crossley and “Guide to the Archive Collections of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society 1931- 1985” by Sylvia Thomas, plus details of new collections drawn up by previous and current archive staff.

Some collections are only one item, in other cases one collection may extend to many boxes. In this guide the contents of each collection is summarised; the degree of detail given in many cases depends on to what extent the collection has been catalogued. You will find more in-depth listings of some collections on Access to Archives or the West Yorkshire Archive Service's online catalogue, for other collections detailed lists are only available in paper form at Claremont.

Please contact the archives to find out if more information is available on particular collections. When enquiring about collections please quote the Collection Reference.

The archive guide


Journal articles

For details of how to submit articles for consideration for the YAJ, please contact the YAS Secretary by email or post.