Introducing the Yorkshire Historic Dictionary

More exciting news. The society is delighted to be part of a ground-breaking collaboration with Dr George Redmonds and The Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York, to develop a dictionary of historic Yorkshire terms. The project is funded by the Marc Fitch Fund, in memory of Prof. David Hey, a major figure in English local history and a great friend of Dr Redmonds and of YAHS.

The outcome will be a dictionary published in the YAHS Record Series, and an online interactive version. The project archivist, Alexandra Medcalf, started work this month, based at the Borthwick, and is already tweeting. This is from Alex’s first post:

“Historic documents abound with unknown words. Some are localised or specialist terms which may still be in use today in isolated areas or amongst experts. Others are obsolete, having been either subsumed into a synonym or died out with changes in domestic or industrial practice.  Woodland managers still talk about standards in coppicing and falconry enthusiasts use the term nare but no-one wears strandling, drinks from a costrel or transports goods in a frail. Sometimes word survival is unclear: does anyone sleep under a caddow today? Do you frame thissen when you’re working purposefully? When you get into an argument are you fratching?

In November 2017, we began an ambitious new fifteen-month project to create a dictionary of historic Yorkshire terms. Building on the work of Dr George Redmonds who has over a sixty-year career amassed a catalogue of 90,000 terms and phrases, the project will produce a published Yorkshire Dictionary (with the Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society Record Series) as well as an interactive online version.”

There’s more to read, and explanation of the terms above, here. Those whose childhood was punctuated with advice to “Come on, clarteead, frame thissen!” may not need help with that particular one.

Yorkshire Dales Life and Tradition: a Celebration

Marking the 50th anniversary in 2018 of Marie Hartley and Joan Ingilby’s classic work, Life and Tradition in the Yorkshire Dales, a new edition of the book is to be published, along with matching events and activities across the dales.

The Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society, in partnership with Dales Countryside Museum and supported by Friends of DCM and by the Yorkshire Dales National Park, is launching a programme of workshops, demonstrations, walks, talks and exhibition, all of them linking directly into themes explored by Hartley and Ingilby. These range from scything to sheep-dipping, cheese-making to cobbling, along with limestone quarrying, Dales family history, local architecture, and much more.

The anniversary edition of Life and Tradition in the Yorkshire Dales is published by YAHS with a modernised layout and a foreword by Amanda Owen, the Yorkshire Shepherdess. When it first appeared, the book was described as Hartley and Ingilby’s masterpiece. A new introduction explores just how pioneering was their approach: they walked the landscape, collected artefacts (an assemblage which formed the basis of the DCM collection), interviewed elderly people and documented dialect, and produced detailed record of practices in craft and agriculture. Hartley photographed, painted and drew scenes, architecture and working techniques. It was recognised at the time that Hartley and Ingilby were capturing evidence of disappearing knowledge and skills, but just how urgent and timely their investigations had been, could be fully understood only later.

The celebration will launch around Easter and run through to late autumn. Full details of events, and information on how to book, and how to buy the book (it’s only £12), will follow.

Sorting the YAHS pamphlet collection

Sylvia and I dropped in on the YAHS volunteers doing a great job sorting out the society’s pamphlet collection in the Brotherton library.

The group, co-ordinated by Belinda Wassell, has been meeting since the beginning of 2017 (at first weekly, now for a full day each fortnight). They check for duplicates, and are also pulling out old or unique documents which belong with the YAHS archives in Special Collections. It’s meticulous work, and difficult to do when the material you’re sorting is endlessly diverting… That’s the joy of it, though.

The collection is large – at Claremont, it filled several hundred box files shelved in the small rooms behind the back stairs. It’s sometimes called ephemera, but that doesn’t quite do justice to it. Serendipity is somewhere nearer the mark – that happy chance finding which adds something completely unexpected to your investigations.

Thanks to all the volunteers, still ploughing on for maybe another six months.

Wakefield Courts Rolls free online

The news that volumes 1-15 of the Wakefield Court Rolls have been digitised and are now available free online has been greeted with enthusiasm. To access them see here

YAHS has been publishing editions of the Wakefield manorial court rolls for over a century, and has owned the Wakefield manorial archive since 1944. The court rolls from 1274-1331, issued in five volumes in the society’s Record Series between 1901 and 1945, were republished by Cambridge University Press in 2013.

A committee of the society was established in 1975 to relaunch the publication of the Wakefield court rolls and the series has now produced 19 volumes over forty years. A new volume is published every two years – volume 19 appeared in 2017. If you’d like to support the WCR series as a subscriber, it’s only £9 a year if you are in the UK – see the YAHS website.

Fifty-one Wakefield court rolls have now been edited, spanning a wide range of years from a period of more than six hundred years from the late 13th to the early 19th century. It is the longest-running series of its kind ever to be published.

David Hey memorial conference: Call for papers

The British Agricultural History Society, together with the British Association for Local History and the Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society is convening a meeting in memory of Professor David Hey and in celebration of his research. This will take place in Sheffield on 23 June 2018. David was a man of wide interests and made a contribution to the discipline of local history as a whole, but his research was also strongly rooted in the history of Yorkshire and the north Midlands. The conference will feature contributions from a number of historians who knew and were associated with David, but we also invite contributions from historians, especially younger members of the profession, who have been inspired and stimulated by his work and can offer papers on subjects in which David took an interest, and which, should he still be with us, he would enjoy hearing. Papers on the landscape, economy and society of the Pennines, south Yorkshire and Sheffield are particularly welcome.

It is hoped that arrangements can be made for the publication of a memorial volume.

Proposals (including a title and 100 word abstract of the proposed paper) should be sent to Professor Richard Hoyle at by Monday 11 December 2017.

Fish-eating in the Middle Ages

Medieval Section lecture this coming Saturday, 2pm at Swarthmore: Iona McCleery of the University of Leeds will speak about fish eating in the Middle Ages. More details here. Iona’s summary:
‘Medieval people seem to have started to eat a lot of fish from the 11th century onwards (what archaeologists call the ‘fish event horizon’). This is usually explained as widespread adoption of strict Christian dietary rules and/or the development of deep sea fishing technology. However, from around the same time medieval medical writings began to view fish as unhealthy foodstuffs. This talk will explore the ambiguous role of fish in medieval culture, drawing in particular on medieval miracle narratives as sources for the complex relationships between medicine, spirituality and daily life.’
Also at Saturday’s meeting: Peter Lacey is also going to say something about the proposals to commemorate Saint Robert of Knaresborough in 2018.

Back to the Bronze Age

The lecture on Must Farm by Dr David Gibson (first in a planned series of annual collaborations between our Prehistory Research Section and The Prehistoric Society) was for me a highlight of the year. Five pile dwellings, roundhouses within a palisade with internal walkway, reached by a timber causeway or bridge, were destroyed by fire less than a year after they were built, in c. 100-800 BC. Except that they were not destroyed: a combination of timbers being carbonised and waterlogged set up perfect conditions for preservation. As a result, the dwellings can be reconstructed, and their contents (organic materials and all) studied as never before. The textiles that survived are said to be as good as anything found in Egypt.

Confessing my prior ignorance of the Bronze Age after the talk, it turned out that people far more knowledgable were also staggered. More on the project website here.

Information on other Bronze Age hoards here, including Lancaster and Morecambe.

Day school on Leeds industries

Save the date: 10 March 2018. A day at Armley Mills, a collaboration between YAHS Industrial History Section and Leeds Industrial Museum. More details will follow soon. Topics include the leather industry and local engineering.

(Meanwhile, apologies that YAHS social media has been off the boil lately. I’m preoccupied with proofs and indexing. Normal service will resume very soon.)