Occasional Papers 02  



Archaeology and Historic Landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales

by R.F. White & P.R. Wilson (eds) (2004)

Archaeology and Historic Landscapes of the Yorkshire DalesThis publication presents discussions of a variety of different aspects of the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales as well as including studies of particular projects and specific areas.

The 20 essays are as follows:

The RCHME’s Yorkshire Dales Mapping Project by Peter D. Horne and David MacLeod
The Yorkshire Dales Mapping roject was initiated in 1988 as a result of discussions between the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME), English Heritage (EH), North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) and the Yorkshire Dales National park Authority (YDNPA). At the time RCHME and EH had already collaborated on mapping projects for Dartmoor and Kent, and work was on progress on two other joint funded projects (Hertfordshire and the Thames Gravels: Fenner 1992; Fenner and Dyer 1994) as part of the cropmark classification project. The Dartmoor project has shown the effectiveness of rapid mapping of earthworks and stoneworks from air photographs in an upland area, while the Kent project had demonstrated the potential of a rapid method of computerised recording based largely on the morphological aspects of cropmarks (Edis 1989). This recording system, known as MORPH, was developed by RCHME staff for the joint RCHME-English Heritage Cropmark Classification Project (Edis et al 1989). The main objective of the Yorkshire Dales Project was to combine and develop these techniques, adapting them for use in an archaeologically rich upland area with extensive industrial remains, and recording in such a way as to allow systematic analysis. The project was a pilot for what has become the RCHME’s [now English Heritage’s] National Mapping Programme.

The area selected for the project covered North Yorkshire to the west of easting 20000, including most of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The area was chosen because previous archaeological work, although demonstrating the great potential of the region, had restricted to specific sites or very limited areas and existing records were known to be inadequate.

The resultant data were to be used to enhance the National Monuments Register (NMR) and provide NYCC and the YDNPA with information to assist their activities as Sites and onuments Record (SMR) holders and planning authorities.

The project covered c2730 sq km, spread over 134 Ordnance Survey (OS) 6” quartersheets, with mapping stopping at the county boundary. Subsequent to the completion of the main project, the Cumbrian part of the Yorkshire Dales National park was also surveyed increasing the total area to just over 3000 sq km.


An Historic Landscape Survey: The Swinithwaite Estate, West Witton by E. Dennison
Archaeological field survey is increasingly moving away from site specific work towards the examination of the wider historic landscape and the numerous monuments of all types and periods which lie within it. While individual site surveys will continue to be important, for example when dealing with specific management or thematic issues, the examination of larger areas helps to understand the processes of landscape change and allows individual sites and complexes to be put into context. The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) respects this changing emphasis, and have commissioned or overseen, either wholly or in partnership with other agencies, numerous historic landscape surveys in recent years.

One of the largest undertaken to date is that of the 600 ha (1,480 acres) Swinithwaite Estate in central Wensleydale. This survey was commissioned in December 1994 by the landowner, Mr H. Thornton-Berry and was funded by English Heritage as part of its Survey Grants for Presentation Scheme and the YDNPA. The work was undertaken by Barton Howe Warren Blackledge and the results are contained in the project report (BHWB 1995a) and archive, held by the YDNPA at Bainbridge.

The project brief required that all features of archaeological, architectural and historic interest were recorded by written description and 1:2,500 scale sketch plan, and that the approximate 73km of existing field boundaries were inspected and the presence of any wall furniture noted. Additional work included a more detailed survey of the remains of the Knights Templar’s preceptory at Penhill, a photographic survey of architectural sites and other selected historic elements, and a limited historical survey of published and unpublished documentation. Each identified site or complex was then assessed and graded in terms of its importance, condition, vulnerability and interpretation potential, to assist with the future management of the Estate.

The Swinithwaite Estate lies on the south side of the River Ure and takes its name from the village located in the main east-west route (the A684) on the south side of the valley, approximately 2km west of West Witton.

Late Prehistoric Landscapes of Upper Wharfedale: Problems and Potential by Roger Martlew
The landscape elements discussed in this paper range in date from the Late Neolithic to the Roman periods, although the lack of recent excavation in the area means that direct dating is rarely possible. The accumulated evidence of prehistoric activity survives in cave deposits below ground, as scatters of artefacts turned up by moles, and as extensive earthwork remains of fields, settlements and sacred sites above ground. While it is this last category of visible evidence that is the main subject of this paper, consideration will also be given to the potential presence of a less visible element in the archaeological landscape of Upper Wharfedale. The aim of the paper is not to present a detailed catalogue of the evidence, but to use specific examples to highlight the problems and potential of the area: fieldwork is ongoing through the School of Continuing Education at the University of Leeds, and interpretations will be refined or even changed as this work proceeds.


Lead Mining Affecting Landscapes of The Yorkshire Dales by M.C. Gill
As part of its proposals for a Register of Historic Landscapes, English heritage commissioned studies of Lead Mining Affected Landscapes in the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales National Parks in 1993. after some initial confusion, the definition of a Lead Mining Affected Landscape was agreed as follows”…includes the physical remains of lead mining: the mines, spoil heaps, smelt mills etc and the immediately necessary infrastructure for their operation, such as the dams and watercourses which provide a medium and/or power source for the processing and smelting phases” (White 1995, 65). John Barnatt and Jim Rieuwerts mapped the nature and extent of such landscapes in the Peak District and Michael Gill mapped the Yorkshire Dales. This paper outlines the findings for the latter area, defines four basic categories of mining and gives examples of their use. It also suggests some refinements to those categories and proposes further areas of research.

Woodland, Industry and Landscape: A History of Woodland at Swaledale by T. Gledhill
This article examines the exploitation of woodland by the agricultural and industrial communities of Swaledale.

Hebden Township Boundary, Past and Present by Heather Beaumont and members of the Hebden History Group
The contemporary township and civil parish of Hebden, in common with several neighbouring townships in Upper Wharfedale, occupies a rectangular tract of land extending from the River Wharfe (c.150m OD) to the Nidderdale watershed (c.550m OD). The linear distance covered by the boundary is about 22.5km enclosing c.1,450ha or 3,582acres (Minchin 1913, 539); the boundary is shared with five townships in Wharefdale and one in Nidderdale. Northwards from the River Wharfe for a distance of about 0.75km the underlying rock is limestone changing, as the land rises, to the shale and sandstone of the Yoredale Series and then to millstone grit. The village centre also lies about 0.75km from the river, surrounded by meadow and pasture. From elevations of c.250-350m there is a transition first to rough pasture and then to moorland.


Burnt Mounds in Wensleydale and Swaledale by T. Laurie
Four burnt mounds in Wensleydale were first reported during the 1993 visit of the Prehistory Society to Western Yorkshire (Laurie and Minnitt 1993, 42). Ninety-six burnt mound sites have now been recognised during fieldwork in Wensleydale and Swaledale. While fieldwork is not yet complete and further sites surely remain to be discovered, the general distribution, location and characteristics of burnt mounds is now sufficiently understood to merit discussion about their distribution and function in the landscape of the northern Dales. It is hoped this paper will stimulate further investigation, particularly by excavation, to determine dating and function.


Reassessment of two late Prehistoric Sites: Maiden Castle and Greenber Edge by Mark Bowden and Keith Blood
On the face of it the two sites discussed in this paper have very little in common except that they are both situated relatively high on north-facing slopes in the Yorkshire Dales. Maiden Castle is an enclosed site while Greenber edge is an extensive spread of features lying along a terrace. Nevertheless they do both demonstrate that even at this late stage in the 20th century analytical field survey can throw new light on what are reasonably well preserved and known sites.


Burton Moor Settlement by Kenneth J. Fairless
In 1979 the late Derrick Riley published a striking photograph to illustrate an article describing his work of aerial survey based on Sheffield (Riley 1979). This photograph showed an aerial view of the remains of a settlement on the western slope of Penhill, near West Burton in Bishopdale. Field inspection combined with Dr Riley’s photograph and others of the same site taken by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England and by Robert White have provided the basis for the following discussion and attempted evaluation.

The settlement, situated on Burton Moor (SE 031860) at 457m (1500ft) OD, is quite a large one comprising a minimum of fourteen large enclosures with at least as many stone-founded huts. It is remarkable for its complexity of enclosures, one attached to another in multiple succession extending some 250m along the hillside.

‘Was the Skeleton Lady Dead?’ by Kevin J. Cale
“Was the skeleton lady dead?”
“Yes, the lady was dead.”
I was delivering the first of six half day teaching sessions to the children of Kettlewell Primary School when the question was posed by a five year old. This was the result of my excavation of a human burial on the hillside above the school, some months earlier. I was fortunate enough to have been invited by the Headmaster to share this discovery with the children of Upper Wharfedale. Over the following weeks the children came to appreciate and understand archaeological recording techniques and methodology as well as gaining an understanding of what life would have been like in Iron Age Upper Wharfedale. However, most importantly, the children had the opportunity to meet ‘Olwen’, as she became known.

During the summer of 1997, I was commissioned by Yorkshire Electricity group PLC to oversee the installation of a new 11kV overhead electricity line between the villages of Kettlewell and Buckden with a 5.5km long and approximately 20m wide corridor which passed through a landscape rich in archaeological remains. As the project required the excavation of 62 holes prior to the installation of electricity poles, the Yorkshire Dales National park Authority (YDNPA) recommended that a detailed programme of archaeological works be undertaken prior to and during construction to minimise the impact this might have on the archaeological remains.


The National Trust and Archaeology in Upper Wharefedale: Excavations at Proctor Garth, Yockenthwaite, August 1992 by Mark Newman
The hamlet of Yockenthwaite, often described as one of the most picturesque views in Upper Wharfedale, lies 2.25km upstream from Hubberholme in Langstrothdale. It is part of the National Trust’s Upper Wharfedale estate of nearly 8000 acres, the majority of which was generously donated by David and Graham Watson in 1989.

An important dimension of the National Trust’s conservation management of this remarkable estate is concerned with the archaeological resource. Shortly after the property was taken on, a complete Vernacular Buildings Survey of the estate was completed, recording historic detail of every standing building. A “desk-top” assessment has since been added to this archive, resulting in the production of an “Archaeological Atlas” (Newman 1997), providing basic archaeological information to the property staff.


Downholme Hall, Near Richmond by Percival Turnbull and Deborah Walsh
The remains of the medieval Downholme Hall lie on the edge of the little village of Downholme, immediately north-west of the Bolton Arms public house, as SD 112 989. In September 1993, the Yorkshire Dales National Park authority (YDNPA) organised on behalf of the Defence Land Agency (who are responsible for the site) an archaeological survey to facilitate an assessment of the Hall’s management requirements. At the time, the condition of the monument was poor, with clear signs of continuing deterioration: since then, however, its future has been safeguarded by important consolidation work carried out under the aegis of the National Park Authority. This survey was carried out by one of the present writers (PT), and having been supplemented by additional fieldwork (by DW) the exercise has permitted a general evaluation of a building, the interesting nature of which has long been obscured by its unhappy state, and which presents considerable potential for more detailed archaeological fieldwork and possible excavation.


Kilnsey Old Hall by P.F. Ryder
Kilnsey Old Hall looks out down Wharfedale from a spectacular site just above the foot of the steep limestone valley side that rises, a little further north, into the famous Kilnsey Crag. The Old Hall is a building of great importance fir two reasons. Firstly, it stands on the site of, and incorporates parts of, a complex medieval buildings traditionally linked with an important grange of the Cistercian Fountains Abbey, a secondly, in its own right it is an impressive mid-17th-century house of unusual form, preserving a considerable number of original features.

An archaeological survey of the site and buildings in early 1995 was prompted by planning applications linked to the proposed return of the building to domestic use. The Old Hall (NGR SD973 678) had not been used as a dwelling house for well over a century, but had been preserved by use as a farm building.


Woodhall Rabbit Warren, Carperby by E. Dennison
It is generally accepted that rabbits, as well as other burrowing animals such as badgers, moles and fixes, can cause localised and significant damage to archaeological sites, both to upstanding earthworks and to below-ground stratifies deposits (Dunwell and Trout 1999). However, it is also recognised that the keeping and breeding of rabbits formed an integral part of the medieval and post-medieval rural economy (eg Aston and Bettey 1998; Faull and Moorhouse 1981, 735057).

Within this broader context, the former rabbit warren near Carperby, on the north bank of the River Ure in Wensleydale (NGR SD 985 895), was surveyed in March 1996. This paper is based on the resulting report (BHWB 1996) and project archive held by the YDNPA at Bainbridge.


‘Houses built in most of the fields’: Field Barns in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale by Robert White and Graham Darlington
Laconically described as waste in the Domesday Survey of 1086, Swaledale formed part of the landholdings of Count Alan of Brittany, the Honour of Richmond. In common with much of the uplands of Northern England it was extensively used as hunting ground. The management of hunting grounds varied: the vast upland estates also represented opportunities to generate income through stock farming or mineral exploitation and reserves of land which could generate spiritual, political or economic benefit through land grants.


The Hogg Houses of Upper Swaledale by Adam Menuge and Jennifer Deadman
This study of hogg houses in upper Swaledale has its origins in a rapid survey, conducted by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) in 1990-91, of field barns and related structures within the boundaries of the Barns and Walls Conservation Area (then confined to Swaledale and Arkengarthdale but subsequently extended). This identified the existence of a cluster of hogg houses concentrated particularly in the upper reaches of Swaledale, which had unusual characteristics and which had not hitherto been noted either in histories of the area or in accounts of vernacular architecture or farm buildings. From the data it was possible to make a representative selection examples for more detailed survey work, with the aim of illustrating the key aspects of this little-known building type. The fieldwork was carried out by the authors over two days in June 1995, and was generously supported by a grant from the YDNPA.


‘One on Two, and Two on One’: Preliminary results from a survey of dry stone walls on the National Trust Estate at Malham by T.C. Lord
Dry stone walls are a key cultural element in the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales. Yet we actually know very little about them, and have only limited survey data about their condition. Arthur Raistrick’s booklet The story of the Pennine Walls first appeared more than fifty years ago (Raistrick 1946). Little has been published since, although a parish study of Dacre, and brief notes by Hudson demonstrate the potential of dry stone wall studies in the Yorkshire Dales (Dacre Parish council 1998; Hudson 1995; 1996). This is confirmed by a series of recent studies by Dennison (eg 1996, 2000, and this volume).

At the request of the National Trust, the author conducted a structural and conditional survey of the 136km of dry stone walls on its Estate at Malham in 1998. The survey was designed to be a tool and data-base for future management of the walls. It attempted to record the different kinds of walls that make up the present day wall pattern, to devise a way to classify them, and utilised objectively defined criteria to classify the walls into condition categories primarily for land management purposes.


The Beldi Hill Low Level Dressing Floor by J.L. Barker and R.F. White
The three main processes involved in the lead industry in the Yorkshire Dales, ore extraction, dressing and smelting, have each left distinct landscape features and structures. Most observers have concentrated on the remains of either the extraction, whether by hushes, shallow or deep shafts or levels, or the smelting process. The complexes built for ore dressing have received rather less attention, perhaps because of their less imposing nature. This note described one ore dressing complex, at Beldi Hill Low Level Mine, sometimes known as Plate Holes, where consolidation works have been carried out by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA).


An Archaeological Survey of the Ribblehead Navy Settlements by Peter Cardwell, Damian Ronan and Roger Simpson
Ribblehead is best known for its imposing twenty-four arched viaduct, probably the most photographed railway viaduct in Britain. The Settle-Carlisle railway was the last main line railway in Britain to be built by manual labour. In the 1870s the bleak moor beside the viaduct was the home to many of the men who built the railway, their families and followers. The fragile remains of their construction camps can still be seen but are being eroded by people who stop to admire the viaduct or use the areas as a convenient marshalling or refuelling point while walking or running the challenging Three Peaks Walk between Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen y Ghent.

In response to increasing visitor pressure the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority commissioned Northern Archaeological Associates to undertake an earthwork survey and documentary research to assist with the development of management proposals for the site.

This report summarises the results of this survey of the site of three of the navvy settlements at Ribblehead associated with the construction of the railway. Documentary sources indicate that the earthwork remains of the three settlements surveyed were Batty Wife Hole (or Batty green), Sebastopol and Belgravia.


Reading Rooms and Literary institutes of the Yorkshire Dales by Christopher Partrick
Reading rooms and literary institutes were, along with schools and public libraries, the built expression of the growth of mass literacy in 19th-century Britain. They were to be found in almost every village and hamlet in the Yorkshire Dales, and were sometimes the only public building, attesting, perhaps as much to their social as their educational benefits. For many small communities, the establishment of such a facility would have involved considerable effort. For others facing economic decline and depopulation, particularly in the lead mining areas, it was almost a leap of faith. The fact that so many reading rooms and literary institutes were built as local initiatives, independent of any government programmes or even centralised structures (unlike, sat the contemporary working men’s club movement; Edwards 2000, 4-5), it is a remarkable achievement in itself.

Buy Now