Archive | Yorkshire History and Heritage

What makes us what we are if not our history, heritage and heredity.

Old and Very Old Yorkshire

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Well this is the colour of the dreaded European Passport so I am not sure that a Yorkshire blue would not be more appropriate. Yes I am sure. It also says God’s Own Country when we know and accept that Yorkshire is a county. Admittedly even the ridings are big enough and good enough to stand as individual countries but without the pretensions of Scotland and Ireland.

Anyway to some old business even prehistory.

Rombalds Way

The river Wharfe now flows, and at times meanders, from the source on wild moorland at Camm Fell to join the Ouse below York. It passes through an ancient area known as Mid-Wharfedale. Pre-glacial man has left little trace but from the Mesolithic age there have been many finds of stone tools. Then the new stone age or neolithic period marked a spread of civilisation.

About 2000 years ago ‘Bell Beaker folk’ came to Yorkshire from the Rhine & Russia and there are over 100 Beaker Folk graves in East Yorkshire.

On an area called Rombalds moor covering  Burley, Hawkesworth and Baildon moors plus to the south of Ilkley there are many ‘cup and ring’ carvings. The swastika stone in Ilkley, Knotties stone on the Chevin and the Panorama  stone in Ilkley are all fine examples from the Early Bronze Age

Rombalds is named after  a short lived but fabled giant who is credited in folklore with superhuman strength and feats.
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Book CoverA History of Yorkshire

Yorkshire folk aren’t big on blurb but this ‘push piece’ gives you a quick overview of what to expect in this 480 page history of our favourite county.

‘The three Ridings of Yorkshire covered about an eighth of the whole of the country, stretching from the river Tees in the north to the Humber in the south, and from the North Sea to the highest points of the Pennines. In such a large area there was a huge diversity of experience and history. Life on the Pennines or the North York Moors, for example, has always been very different from life in low-lying agricultural districts such as Holderness or the Humberhead Levels. And the fisherfolk of Staithes or Whitby might not readily recognise the accents, ways or customs of the cutlery makers of Hallamshire, still less perhaps of the farmers of Wensleydale or Craven. In some ways, this diversity makes Yorkshire the most interesting of England’s historic counties, a microcosm of the country as a whole. Its variety and beauty also help to explain why Yorkshire is now such a popular tourist desination. Until quite recently people felt that they belonged to their own local area or ‘country’. Few people travelled very far, and it was not until the late nineteenth century that the success of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club seems to have forged the idea of Yorkshire as a singular identity, and which gave its people a sense of their superiority. This single volume describes the broad sweep of Yorkshire’s history from the end of the last Ice Age up to the present day. To do so Professor Hey has had to tell the story of each particular region and of each town. He talks about farming and mining, trade and industry, fishing and ways of life in all parts of the county. Having lived, worked, researched, taught and walked in the county for many years, he has amassed an enormously detailed knowledge and understanding of Yorkshire. The fruits of his work are presented here in what has been described as ‘a bravura performance – by one of the Yorkshire’s finest historians’. With a particular emphasis on the richness of landscape, places and former ways of life, this important book is a readable, informative and fascinating overview of Yorkshire’s past and its people.’

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Thrifty Yorkshire Hoarders

 

Yorkshire folk are well known for their thrift and canny ways with money. Perhaps some of this rubbed off on our Viking visitors who first arrived around AD780.

Skip forward to 2007 when a hoard of coins and jewelry was unearthed near Harrogate. The Vikings had buried a silver -gilt cup containing 617 silver coins, silver jewelry and some 67 other pieces. As treasure trove they were valued by the coroner at over £1million and are now held in the British Museum and by York Museum Trust.

The majority of coins were Anglo Saxon but some came from around the Middle East  via the Viking trade routes of Russia, across the Baltic and Scandinavia. The hoard includes Islamic dirhams and Frankish deniers. The most modern coin was dated from the AD920’s after the Anglo Saxon king, Athelstan, conquered Northumbria in AD 927. At this time of upheaval members of York’s controlling Vikings may have wanted  safe storage (and they got that for over A THOUSAND YEARS).

It is possible that the hoard had been added too over time before being burried. Also it may have been the property of several Viking clans acting with a trusted ‘banker’.

Other Yorkshire hoards include one of over 200 coins  discovered in Flaxton and Goldsborough’s Viking silver contained 39 coins and hack-silver made from fragments of brooches and arm-rings.

West Yorkshire hoard of 5 items of 7th to 11th century Anglo Saxon gold jewellery were discovered in 2008

If you want older hoards consider the neolithic Ayton East Field Hoard or the York Hoard dated from the  30th century BC. They contain 80 flints, axes, arrow heads and tools and were discovered in the 19th century. Why they were hoarded together remains a mystery.

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Rotherham’s Serious Crimes

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  • For fourteen years Jayne Senior tried to help girls from Rotherham who had been groomed, raped, tortured, pimped and threatened with violence by sex traffickers. Only by becoming  a whistleblower, sharing confidential documents to expose the scandal for The Times investigative reporter Andrew Norfolk, was any action taken.
  • As the manager of Risky Business, which was set up to work with vulnerable teens, she heard heartbreaking and shocking stories of abuse and assiduously kept notes and details of the perpetrators, passing information on to the authorities
  • She describes a life spent working to protect Rotherham’s girls, the pressure put on her to stop rocking the boat and why she risked prison in the hope that she could help end the appalling child exploitation in the town is told in the book.
  • The report by Professor Alexis Jay said there were “collective failures” of political, police and social care leadership over the first 12 years the inquiry covered.

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  • The scale of the Rotherham child protection scandal has led professionals responsible for safeguarding children in other regions to recognise the extent of child abuse in their area
  • Drawing on lessons learned from key case reviews professionals must consider how to react and respond. Failing to take on the concerns of child sexual exploitation will lead to other Rotherhams.
  • The authors of ‘Sexual Exploitation After Rotherham’   present recommendations for improvements at strategic management and frontline practitioner levels.

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  • Violated is an uncomfortable story about the  sex abuse scandal in Rotherham that sent shockwaves through the nation.  Sarah Wilson one of many victims tells her story in the hope that other young girls will not fall prey to the same evil that she endured and that more care and responce will be provided by the powers that be.
  • Sarah was just eleven years old when she was befriended by a group of older men. She ‘escaped’ from rape and addiction when she became too old for the men at nearly sixteen.
  • Professors Jays report estimated that  up to 1,400 young girls in the town had been regularly abused by sex gangs, predominantly comprised of Pakistani men.

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Seven or More Yorkshire Cathedrals and Minsters

Top Cathedrals for age and Architecture

1.York Minster Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter is the Mother church of the Province of York AD 627.

2. Ripon Cathedral Church of St Peter and St Wilfrid AD 655.

Parish and modern Cathedrals

3. Bradford Cathedral Church of St Peter 15th century

4. Leeds Roman Catholic Cathedral Church of St Anne

5. Wakefield Cathedral Church of All Saints consecrated AD 1329

6. Sheffield Cathedral Church of St Peter and St Paul  + like Liverpool with a second cathedral the 7. Roman Catholic Cathedral Church of St Marie

8. Middlesbrough  Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic originally Cathedral Church of Our Lady Of Perpetual Succour

Minster Churches not Cathedrals?

  1. Beverley Minster Parish church of St John and St Martin
  2. Dewsbury Minster All Saints Church
  3. Marsden St Bartholomew’s church
  4. Halifax Minster West Riding
  5. Howden Minster was owned by monks from Peterborough Abbey in Saxon times
  6. Leeds Minster and Parish Church of Saint Peter-at-Leeds
  7. All Saints Church, Rotherham, also known as Rotherham Minster,
  8. Doncaster Church of St George, Doncaster, also known as Doncaster Minster.

Significant or Greater Churches Network

Southwell Cathedral and Parish Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary prior to the dissolution of 1539  was a Minster in the diocese of York.

  • Bolton Abbey
  • Bridlington Priory
  • St Peter’s Church, Harrogate
  • Holy Trinity Church, Hull newly promoted to a Minster church on 13th May 2017
  • Selby Abbey

The greater church network aims to help former monastic properties and others  large parish churches built at a time of great wealth. They have common problems of financing facilities for a large number of visitors and the specialist maintenance and repair of old or large buildings.

Fascinating Facts about Yorkshires Newest Minster

  • Holy Trinity Church,Hull needed a £4.5m renovation  and the Archbishop Dr John Sentamu revealed it would become Hull Minster if the funds could be raised.
  • The largest parish church in England was newly promoted to a Minster church on 13th May 2017
  • Holy Trinity’s  mother church is All Saints in Hessle just up river.
  • The church was built in the 1300s, after King Edward I granted the former settlement  a Royal Charter for Kings Town upon Hull
  • It is the oldest brick-built building in the country still in use foor it’s original purpose.
  • Anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce was baptised at the church
  • The church now houses beer festivals and other activities to help raise the funds for refurbishment.
  • During World War One, the church was bombed and damage by fire and in  World War Two it became a  flight marker for the German aircraft looking to bomb the docks and city.

 

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Sculptures New and Ancient

 

Lizards from Cornwall have been carving a path through our dry stone walls. See more sculptures around Chevin Park and Surprise View.

Human foot marks have eroded part of the Calf as folk try the ascent to the summit. Parents of small children should give their assent in a Yorkshire accent first. Around Rombolds Moor you can visit stone age cup and ring stones the Swastika and Apostle  stones.

Which sculpture takes your eye? The White Horse at Kilburn or the National Park adulterated Mill Wheel  sign.

The Grewelthorpe Duck

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The East Riding or Wolds Waggon

Leeds Art Gallery has been closed for far too long. Amongst the unviewable treasures are the historic plates by George Walker depicting working costumes and regional garb from the Ridings. They are however available in Flickr

plate 16: The East Riding or Wolds Waggon
The East Riding or Wolds Waggon

The Costume of Yorkshire in 1814,

‘The account given of this carriage by H. Strickland, Esq., in his late excellent publication on the agriculature of the East Riding of Yorkshire, is so perfectly descriptive of the annexed Plate, that we here take the liberty of quoting it verbatim.

“Little can be said in favour of the waggons which are in general use here; they are high, narrow, and long; an inconvenient form for the purposes for which they are intended, that of carrying a top-load, particularly in such parts of the country as are irregular; and they have but one peculiarity in their construction which seems worthy of more general adoption. This is a strong chain on each side of the waggon, of which one end is fixed to the back of the fore axletree, and the other to the other side of the body, of such a length as just to prevent the opposite wheel from locking against the side of the waggon in turning; by which means the body may be set much lower between the wheels, without being weakened by cutting the side to admit the wheel (as is sometimes done), and the waggon may be turned within a much smaller space. The mode of yoking appears to be a practice nearly peculiar to that district, and is deserving of imitation. The four horses are yoked two abreast, in the same manner as they are put to a coach, two drawing the splinter-bar, and two by the pole; those at the wheel also drawing by a swinging bar; which the wheel-horses of every carriage ought to do, as they thereby obtain considerable ease in their draft, and are less liable to be galled by the collar than those which draw by a fixed bar. The driver then being mounted on the near-side wheel-horse, directs the two leaders by a rein fixed to the outside of each of their bridles, they being coupled together by a strap passing from the inside of each of their bridles to the collar of the other horse. In this manner, when empty, they trot along the roads with ease and expedition; and when loaded, the horses being near their work, and conveniently placed for drawing, labour with much greater ease and effect than when placed at length. Were the waggons, indeed, of a better construction, the team would be excellent.” ‘

LEEDM.E.2013.0139.0001.plate16
plate 22: Thirty-third Regiment
Thirty-third Regiment plate 22

 

‘This Regiment was raised during the American War, in the neighbourhood of Halifax, from which circumstance, and that of their recruiting-serjeants always preceding the party with an oat-cake upon their swords, the men have always been denominated the Haver-cake Lads. Till very lately the gallant Lord Wellington was the colonel of this regiment. To his portrait the eloquent serjeant in the Plate is appealing, which, with the strong additional aid of Sir John Barleycorn, will no doubt produce a powerful reinforcement to the Haver-cake Lads. The regiment has been lately given to Sir John Sherbrooke.’

plate 12: Nor and Spell
Nor and Spell

plate 12: Nor and Spell

‘This is no doubt the same game, a little varied, which Strutt, in his Sports and Pastimes of England, denominates Northern, or Northern Spell. The little wooden ball is in Yorkshire called the Nor, and the receptacle in which is placed, the Spell. A sight of the Plate will sufficiently explain the anture of the game, which is necessarily played on an open piece of ground. Upright sticks or stones, placed at certain equal intervals of about twenty yards serve to regulate the score by determing the distance to which the ball is struck. The player uses a long stick of cane or hazle, to the end of which is fixed a thick solid piece of wood. With this instrument he raises the ball by tipping the sharp end of the spell, and strikes it while it is still in the air. Strutt describes the spell as hung upon a pivot considerably above the ground, the ball as made of leather, and much larger, and the stick as resembling in form the bat used for cricket. In short it approaches more nearly to the modern game of Trap-ball, and by no means admits of the skill requiredd in the one here represented.’

Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)Leeds Art Gallery

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Even Older Yorkshire Folk from the Stone Age

The first Yorkshire folk were from the Palaeolithic era over 10,000 years B.C. These 12,000 year old Fred Flintstone characters were able to cross from Europe as the glacial waters of the ice ages melted away and plant and animal life increased to feed the nomads. Evidence of inhabitation and exotic animal bones have been found at Victoria Cave near Settle and Kirkdale Cave near Kirkbymoorside in the Vale of Pickering. These cave dwellers were restricted to roughly shaped flint and stone tools and to date no evidence of permanent settlement has been discovered.

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Middle Stone Age Yorkshireman from the Mesolithic era visited via what is now the North Sea possibly from warmer Pyrenees or the Mediterranean about 7500 B.C. Evidence of a brushwood platform for Lake Dwelling  were found at Star Carr  near Seamer  and there was a camp at Marsden where many arrow shaft flints have been discovered. Flint axes have also been discovered in Calderdale, Blubberhouses, Glaisdale and Wharfedale and scattered on the Cleveland Hills and North Yorkshire Moors.

Neolithic man 3000 B.C. were the first farmers in Yorkshire with both cereal crops and small animal husbanding. Large trees in the fertile valleys were too difficult to clear so much of the farming was done on the tops and valley sides. There are Neolithic sites at Flamborough Head, Hartendale and Beacon Hill. Most evidence comes from the long barrows the burial mounds from Sleights to Kilburn and around Folkton. By 2000 B.C. Duggleby Howe round mound shows evidence of inhumation (interment) and cremation.

Bronze age man probably arrived from the Rhinelands about 1800 B.C. and have been named ‘Beaker Folk’ after the pots they were buried with. Burial mounds at Grassington, Baildon Moor and West Tanfield display an interest in gold and amber and the picture below demonstrates the find at Kellythorpe.

Further reading
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Are The Oldest Yorkshiremen 10,000 Years Old?

‘In July 1834 excavation of a barrow at Gristhorpe, near Scarborough, Yorkshire, recovered an intact, waterlogged, hollowed-out oak coffin containing a perfectly preserved Bronze Age skeleton that had been wrapped in an animal skin and buried with worked flints, a bronze dagger with a whalebone pommel, and a bark vessel apparently containing food residue……….’

By the Iron Age around 500 B.C. the Celts and Parisi joined the Brigantes tribes bringing expertise in metal working and even chariot building. The British museum has an Iron tyre and nave hoop from the East Yorkshire Garton Station Iron Age cart burial. The tribal atmosphere led to the building of hill forts at Ingelton, Castleton Rigg, Boltb Scar and Dane’s Dyke amongst others. These were to fall to the Romans early in the next millennia.

So this quick gallop through 10,000 years of Yorkshire folk history establishes a background for the next 2017+ years. What we don’t know is how Yorkshire folk were fairing during the 4 Ice Ages before the Palaeolithic times.

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Are The Oldest Yorkshiremen 10,000 Years Old?

Sheep in a paddock

On the road from Scarborough to Malton is Seamer, at the easterly end of the Vale of Pickering. It is here that pollen analysis and radio carbon dating have identified a site occupied circa 7,500 B.C. by Early Mesolithic Yorkshiremen.
The location is Star Carr immediately after the bridge over the River Hertford on what was the edge of prehistoric Lake Flixton .

Starr Carr Mesolithic Settlement Site south of Seamer North Yorkshire.

  • The Mesolithic period was sandwiched between the old and new Stone Ages.
  • Some archaeologists estimate that Star Carr was founded in about 8770 BC and was occupied for at least 300 years.
  • The Mesolithic period saw the introduction of stone tools, agriculture and domesticated animals.
  • ‘The remains of 21 head-dresses made of red deer antler have been found at Starr Carr. Archaeologists think they may have been used as disguises when hunting or in rituals.’
  • Waterlogged soil in the area contains peat which has helped to preserve many objects found at Star Carr.
  • Evidence of several homes and a large wooden platform have been found at Star Carr. The inhabitants probably used turf, thatch or bark for the walls, and covered the floors in plants, moss or reeds.
  • The Star Carr site is a Scheduled Monument of archaeological importance.
  • The Oldest Yorkshiremen were dated to the Mesolithic era by pollen and radio carbon dating.
  • The Starr Carr site was discovered in 1947 by a local archaeologist John Moore who found the first flint blade sticking out from a dyke.
  • The site was excavated from 1949-1951 by  Cambridge University and has been re-excavated several times since.

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Excavations At Star Carr: An Early Mesolithic Site at Seamer Near Scarborough, Yorkshire by J. G. D. Clark
‘Grahame Clark’s excavations at Star Carr from 1949 to 1951 have long been regarded as a model of how archaeological investigation should be conducted. In addition to this, the importance of the site itself has established for this report on the excavations a permanent place in all archaeological libraries’.

 

Where to see the ‘Finds’

About 17,000 worked flints and 300 cutting tools called burins were found when the site was excavated.
Some of the finds were housed at the Scarborough Museum.
Other finds have been donated to the British museum and the University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Cambridge.

Cliffs End - flint knives 1
Modern Flints! Flint knives found in a group of tools and waste flakes in an Early Bronze Age grave circa 2000 B.C.

What do We Know About The Oldest Yorkshiremen

There is little to see other than featureless farmland as the site was buried 9 feet deep, about a foot for every thousand years! It is still worth visiting to picture the activities of our ancestors.
The seasonally occupied homes at Star Carr were used by families of hunter fisher folk.
It was a period of mildish winters and the bones of many animals included deer, ox, elk, hare, pine martins and beaver were excavated.
The hard working folk created many tools in addition to the numerous flints. They used antlers to make spear like weapons, bark for net floats, a birch wood paddle for fishing and iron pyrites flints to strike a light.
About 9,000 years ago industrious Yorkshiremen were leading the way and we are fortunate that the discoveries and pollen dating can help us understand so much about our predecessors.

Photo credits
Sheep in a paddock (at Seamer) by thsutton CC BY-NC 2.0
Scarborough’s revamped Rotunda museum by Globalism Pictures CC BY 2.0
Cliffs End – flint knives 1 by Wessex ArchaeologyCC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Further reading

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Oldest Yorkshire Folk from the Stone Age

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Holy Trinity Goodramgate & Charity

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A strange picture for an article on a medieval church but this church is where I bought the book ‘Bells and Bikes’.  Holy Trinity Goodramgate’s environment and a charity donation to Marie Curie encouraged me to part with some cash. I was not disappointed on either front.

As can be seen charity is nothing new at Holy Trinity. This wall mounted board records 17th century donations for bread to the poor.

The church is a marvel from 12th – 15th century worship that still has 3 services each year. It is now in the care of the historic Churches Conservation Trust.

‘The floors and arcades are charmingly uneven. Light filters through the windows, illuminating honey-coloured stone. The east window especially has marvellous stained glass that was donated in the early 1470s by the Reverend John Walker, rector of the church. On sunny days, transient gems of coloured light are scattered on the walls, and various medieval faces stare out from the windows.

The building dates chiefly from the fifteenth century, but has features from its foundation in the twelfth century right up to the nineteenth century. The box pews, unique in York, are exceptionally fine, and an interesting collection of monuments and memorials paint a picture of life in this busy city throughout the ages’.

‘The church is of interest for the evidence it retains of a complicated, piecemeal development, but it is chiefly remarkable as the best surviving example, little altered, of pre-Tractarian arrangements to provide an auditory setting for Anglican worship with three liturgical centres contrived within a mediaeval church. It has suffered badly from decay but has been restored without loss of character. Among the fittings, the mediaeval glass and the surviving woodwork of the 18th-century ordering or reordering are of particular interest.’ British History online

Church & Charity

More importantly linking the church to the book, Holy Trinity Goodramgate has a large bell suspended near the entrance that children take delight in banging with a tethered clapper. The author is a keen campanologist, native Yorkshire man and cycling obsessive. Rod Ismay is also endorsed by the post office as a superhero for Children in Need in recognition of his many cycling related fund raising activities.

Rod is quite keen on bell-ringing, charity fund raising and cycling so the book provided an opportunity to link all three. ‘ Why not get all the bells ringing along the Tour route, why not organise countless events, countless meetings, why not drag in churches far and wide, why not involve your employer, your friends, your family….’ as the amazon blurb has it.

 

One of several other historic  plaques on the church wall.

Friends Of Holy Trinity Goodramgate York registered charity no. 1096369 over the last five years has spent more than three times its annual income to finance ways of making visits to holy trinity church more pleasurable. Casting bread on waters perhaps.

See also Charity Chit Chat

It seems a shame the Bell Ringers and York Minster politicos can’t demonstrate a more effective charitable spirit and resolve the dispute that is currently keeping the Minster bells silent.

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Wonderful but Ruined Abbeys of Yorkshire

What did Henry VIII ever do for Yorkshire’s Abbeys?
In our series of seven man made wonders of Yorkshire our great Abbeys did not always get full recognition. This goes some way to highlight the 12th Century and subsequent buildings that Yorkshire now proudly displays as tourist attractions with added tudor history!

Fountain Abbey

Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey
Walking through the landscaped Georgian water garden of Studley Royal, complete with neo-classical statues, follies and breathtaking views the magnificent 12th-century abbey ruins will enrapture the first time visitor.
A dispute and riot at St Mary’s Abbey in York during the late 11th century led to the founding of Fountains Abbey by the River Skell in 1132. After pleading unsuccessfully to return to the early 6th century Rule of St Benedict, 13 monks were exiled and taken into the protection of Thurstan, Archbishop of York and the austere Cistercian Order.

Other features to include on your visit to this World Heritage site include Victorian St Mary’s church and the Reading Room in Elizabethan Fountains Hall. Studely park has picnic facilities and herds of deer to watch in this idylic environment.
For more on the seven man made wonder that is Fountains Abbey

Byland Abbey
Byland Abbey
Byland Abbey was one of the greatest monasteries in England and it inspired the design of church buildings throughout the North of England. The early gothic architecture, particularly the west front, with its ruined great rose window, inspired the design of the famous York Minster rose window.

Thw abbey is situated in a quiet spot between Thirsk and Helmsley. There is now a museum that displays colourful visitor information panels together with archaeological finds from the site. Continue Reading →

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