Farndale, where Edmund the Hermit used to live


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Rievaulx Chartulary












A gift to Rievaulx from Roger de Mowbray 


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General Sir Martin Farndale KCB



The name Farndale, first occurs in history in the Rievaulx Abbey Chartulary in a Charter granted by Roger de Mowbray to the Abbot and the monks of Rievaulx Abbey in 1154. By it Roger bestowed upon the Monastery, ‘….Midelhovet, that clearing in Farndale where the hermit Edmund used to dwell; and another clearing which is called ‘Duvanesthuat’ and common of pasture in the same valley, to wit, Farndale….’ (Note: Midelhovet is probably ‘Middlehead’ at the head of Farndale near the source of the river Dove, 3.5 miles NW of Farndale East. ‘Duvanesthuat’ could be ‘Dowthwait’ in Farndale, but is more likely to be ‘Duffinstone,’ grid 646987 on the west side of High Farndale).




There are a number of colourful characters in the dale today, but none with such a unique name as Edmund the Hermit, reputed to be Farndale's first inhabitant, who lived at a clearing called Little Hovitt, now known as Middlehead.


Religious hermits were the original residents of Ryedale's most remote outposts. Edmund was first at Farndale, Osmund at Goathland and the Saintly Godric in Eskdale.

The name Farndale comes from the Celtic ‘farn, or fearn’ meaning ‘fern’ and the Norwegian ‘dalr’, meaning ‘dale;’ thus it was the ‘dale where the ferns grew.’ It seems likely that the first people to settle in Farndale were bands of mixed Celtic and Scandinavian stock and that it was they who began to clear areas in which to build and grow crops, but we have no records of them until the 13th Century.


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(Rievaulx Chartulary)



Location of Rievaulx


















Abbot Aelred's monastery at Rievaulx in the mid Twelfth Century