The Farndale Directory
Farndale pre history 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A look back at the period before clear records of Farndales

 

 

 

  

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General Sir Martin Farndale KCB

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I hope that you have reached this page by:

 

(1)  Following your own ancestry directly through individual members of our family, discovering some detail about your direct ancestors, and perhaps tracing your direct ancestry back to the early sixteenth century;

 

(2)  Then exploring the entries in the first volume of the Farndale Directory which contain records of Farndales, and activities in Farndale which must relate to our medieval ancestors and which explain how the family originated in the dale of Farndale.

 

So where did those more distant medieval ancestors, who lived in Farndale, themselves come from? There are of course no written records of our ancestors which can assist us. However we can still consider archaeological records in the area, to get a broad understanding of the pre historic context of the region, and allow us to travel yet further back in time.

 

This page starts with a summary of the distinct periods of time, and the types of activity in each period. It then considers each separate epoch in more detail, in the context of the area of the current North Yorkshire Moors, which we know to have been our ancestral home.

 

A Brief History of Time in the Ancestral Home of the Farndales

 

The later Medieval Period (1150 to 1500) 

 

The historic period of the later medieval age, the Plantagenets and the Houses of Lancaster and York.

 

 

Please see the first volume of the Farndale Directory and Chapter 1 of the Farndale History.

 

 

The early middle ages (866 AD to 1150)

 

Saxon and Norman England.

 

Anglo Saxon England was united as the Kingdom of England by King  Æthelstan (927–939 AD).

 

It became part of the short-lived North Sea Empire of Cnut the Great, a personal union between England, Denmark and  Norway in the 11th century.

 

 

During this period the majority of the Yorkshire population was engaged in small scale farming. A growing number of families were living on the margin of subsistence and some of these families turned to crafts and trade or industrial occupations. By 1300 Yorkshire farmers had reached the present day limits of cultivation on the Pennines.

The post Roman period (410 AD to 866 AD)

 

Anglo-Saxon England was the period of early medieval England. It was the period  from the 5th to the 11th centuries, from the end of Roman Britain until the Norman conquest in 1066.

 

 

The first written law codes, histories and literature emerged.

 

In the 9th Century, the Vikings settled in many places all around the North Yorkshire Moors, but there is no sign of them settling in them.

The Roman Period (70 AD to 410 AD)

 

When the Romans arrived in the area, they found organised resistance and strong tribes prepared to fight for their land.

 

 

The Romans came into the area further east to patrol the coast. They built roads, part of which still exist and warning stations on the cliffs at places like Huntcliffe. No doubt Roman patrols passed through Farndale, but there is no evidence that they stopped there. 

 

 

The Iron Age (700 BC to 70 AD)

 

Iron tools and weapons changed the fighting and working world, though dwellings and lifestyles did not change significantly.

 

Communities and tribes, although warlike became more settled and cereal production and animal husbandry increased.

 

Iron Age farmsteads were made up of groups of small square or rectangular fields and were often enclosed by low walls of gravel or stones. Their huts were made of branches, or wattle and stood on low foundations of stone.

 

There was a massive hill fort at Roulston Scar, which dates back to around 400 BC. It is the largest Iron Age fort of its kind in the north of England. There are outlines of other such settlements near Grassington and Malham. The most impressive Iron Age remains are at Stanwick, north of Richmond.

 

The Bronze Age (1800 BC to 700 BC)

 

The Bronze Age was the period when metal ore was discovered. Copper was alloyed with tin. By applying very high heat levels to ceramic crucibles it was possible to alloy bronze and to caste axe heads, knives, spear heads, and simple ornaments.

 

This was the period represented by the Windy Pit discoveries, including Beaker People pottery and human remains. The use of bronze was probably introduced into Yorkshire by the Beaker Folk, who entered the area via the Humber Estuary in about 1800 BC.

The Neolithic Period, the New Stone Age (3000 BC to 1800 BC)

 

The New Stone Age was the period when tool making skills produced stone axes, flint axes, arrow heads, spear points, fired clay beakers and woven cloth.

 

Neolithic society made pottery, weaved cloth and made baskets. These people no longer lived a semi nomadic existence. Permanent settlements were built, like to one at Ulrome, between Hornsea and Bridlington, where a dwelling built on wooden piles on the shore of a shallow lake has been found.

The Mesolithic Period (9,500 to 3,000 BC)

 

The Middle Stone Age was the period after the ice had receded.

 

Microlith sites have been found on the Moors including at Farndale, including flint and stone chippings and tools. Early humans lived at Star Carr which was first occupied in about 9,000 BC.

 

The Palaeolithic Period or the Old Stone Age (10,000 BC to 2.6 million year ago)

 

The Palaeolithic Period, also known as the Old Stone Age, is a period in human prehistory distinguished by the original development of stone tools. This period covers about 99% of human technological prehistory. It extends from the earliest known use of stone tools by hominids in Africa about 3.3 million years ago, to the end of the Pleistocene.

 

Although this period covers human prehistory on a global scale, humans do not appear to have emerged on the North Yorkshire Moors until about 9,000 BC, during the Mesolithic Period.

 

The last Ice Age dated from about 110,000 to 11,000 year ago. During that Ice Age there were warm and cold fluctuations which lasted long enough to explain the presence of sub tropical animals in Kirkdale cave.

 

Now let’s look at each of these periods in a little more detail.

 The later Medieval Period, the Plantagenets and the Houses of Lancaster and York (1150 to 1500) 

 

The House of Plantagenet

Henry II 1154 – 1189 - His views on church reform came into conflict with Thomas BecketArchbishop of Canterbury who was assassinated in 1170.

Richard I 1189 – 1199 - He was nicknamed Lionheart due to his involvement in the crusades.

John 1199 – 1216 - Known as Lackland because his father did not grant him any land.

Henry III 1216 – 1272 - Became King at the age of 9 years and ruled for 56 years.

Edward I 1272 – 1307 - Nicknamed Longshanks because he was tall and the Hammer of the Scots because he fought in Scotland. He conquered Wales and built many castles. When his wife, Eleanor, died, Edward erected crosses along her funeral route including at Charing Cross in London.

Edward II 1307 – 1327 - He was created the first Prince of Wales and eldest sons of the reigning monarch have been created Prince of Wales ever since. He was deposed in favour of his son and imprisoned where he died.

Edward III 1327 – 1377 - Edward’s reign was dominated by the Hundred Years War with France. Edward’s eldest son, Edward, the Black Prince, died fighting in the war. Society changed following the drastic reduction in the population following the Black Death.  Rivalry between Edward’s sons led to the Wars of the Roses.

Richard II 1377 – 1399 - Became King at the age of 10 years when he succeeded his grandfather to the throne. He was deposed and imprisoned in Pontefract Castle where he died.

The House of Lancaster

Henry IV 1399 – 1413 - Henry took the throne from Richard II.

Henry V 1413 – 1422 - Continued the Hundred Years War and saw victory at Agincourt. He died from a wound sustained while fighting.

Henry VI 1422 – 1461, 1470 – 1471 - Suffered bouts of madness that led to challenges to the throne known as the Wars of the Roses.

The House of York

Edward IV 1461 – 1483 - Took the throne from Henry VI. Alienated Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick by marrying Elizabeth Woodville and raising her family.

Edward V 1483 - Aged 12 when his father died. Edward and his brother Richard mysteriously died in the Tower of London and are referred to as the Princes in the Tower.

Richard III 1483 – 1485 - Appointed regent for young Edward V and became King after declaring the sons of Edward IV to be illegitimate.

 

 

 Please see the first volume of the Farndale Directory and Chapter 1 of the Farndale History

The early middle ages (866 AD to 1150)

 

This is the period from the Danish colonisation of 866 AD to the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066.

After the Danish subjugation of the region, in AD 875 Guthrum became leader of the Danes and he apportioned lands to his followers. However most of the English population were allowed to retain their lands under the lordship of their Scandinavian conquerors. Ivar the Boneless became "King of all Scandinavians in the British Isles".


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The coming of the Normans

 

In 1066, after the death of King Edward the Confessor, Yorkshire became the stage for two major battles that would help decide who would succeed to the throne.

Harold Godwinson was declared King by the English but this was disputed by Harold Hardrada King of Norway and William Duke of Normandy. In the late summer of 1066 Harold Hardrada, accompanied by Tostig Godwinson, took a large Norwegian fleet and army up the Humber towards York. They were met by the army of the northern earls Edwin of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria who they defeated at the Battle of Fulford. Harold Hardrada occupied York and the Norwegian Army encamped at Stamford Bridge. Harold Godwinson had to travel from London gathering his army as he went to face the invasion. Within five days, on 25 September 1066, Harold Godwinson had reached Stamford Bridge and defeated the Norwegian Army in a battle in which both Harold Hardrada and Tostig Godwinson were killed. The Battle of Stamford Bridge can be seen as one of the pivotal battles in English history. It was the last time a Scandinavian army was able to seriously threaten England.

 

On 28 September 1066, William Duke of Normandy landed on the south coast of England forcing Harold Godwinson to rush south from Yorkshire with his army. They met at the Battle of Hastings where the English army was defeated and Harold Godwinson killed, allowing William to become King of England.

King William I and the Normans did not immediately gain control over the whole of the country and rebellions in the north of England, including Yorkshire led to the Harrying of the North. The Anglo-Norman chronicler Oderic Vitalis condoned William the Conqueror for conducting a scorched earth campaign during the winter of 1069-70. Those who escaped initially hid in Yorkshire's woodland but many then died of famine or exposure.

By 1071 the last native led rebellion against Norman authority in Yorkshire had been suppressed. The severity of the Norman campaign is shown by the fall of land values in Yorkshire by two-thirds between 1069 and 1086.


Domesday book records that 25 continental magnates introduced into Yorkshire by the Conqueror held over 90% of the county's manors. The families who had previously held land were either deprived of their holdings or reduced to subtenants. Scholarship on the "harrying" does contain some dissent from this history. For instance the use of land value data does not confirm a specific policy of harrying. The difficulty experienced by kings administering the North compared to the South, produces a slanted view of land values and Domesday information.


In the early years of Norman rule the new rulers built ringwork castles. These were circular defensive enclosures formed by the construction of a bank and a ditch. Examples of these are Kippax, near Leeds and Castleton on the North York Moors. Yorkshire at this time was frontier country. It was vulnerable to attack from the north by the Scots and from across the North Sea by the Danes.

 
Soon more complex motte and bailey castles were being built as the ruthless and ambitious barons appointed by King William to rule Yorkshire gained a hold on their territories. The parcels of land bestowed by William to his followers in Yorkshire were fewer and much larger than in more southern counties. Each was able to support a sizeable garrison in a strong castle. Large castles were established at Conisbrough, Tickhill, Pontefract, Richmond, Middleham and Skipsea and two in York.


At this time there was established the chain of castles across the southern edge of the North York Moors which included Scarborough, Pickering and Helmsley.

When the Normans arrived in Yorkshire there were no monastic foundations. The old Northumbrian clifftop abbey of Whitby lay in ruins. In the centuries following the Conquest splendid abbeys and priories were built in Yorkshire. The first of these was Selby Abbey, founded in 1069 and the birthplace of Henry I of England. There followed the abbeys of St Mary’s, York, Rievaulx, Fountains, Whitby, Byland, Jervaulx, Kirkstall, Roche, Meaux and many other smaller establishments. During the succeeding 70 years religious orders flourished, particularly after the promotion of Thurstan of Bayeux to the archbishopric of York in 1114. Between 1114 and 1135 at least 14 were established.


The Norman landowners were keen to increase their revenues by establishing new towns and planned villages. Among others, the boroughs of Richmond, Pontefract, Sheffield, Doncaster, Helmsley and Scarborough were established in this way as were the villages of Levisham and Appleton-le-Moors on the North York Moors and Wheldrake in the Vale of York. York was the pre-eminent centre of population before the conquest and was one of only four pre existing towns. The others included Bridlington and Pocklington.


The Danish invasions ceased at this time but the Scots continued their invasions throughout the medieval period. The Battle of the Standard was fought against the Scots near Northallerton in 1138.


During this period the majority of the Yorkshire population was engaged in small scale farming. A growing number of families were living on the margin of subsistence and some of these families turned to crafts and trade or industrial occupations. By 1300 Yorkshire farmers had reached the present day limits of cultivation on the Pennines. Both lay and monastic landowners exploited the minerals on their estates. There were forges producing iron, and lead was being mined and smelted in the northern dales. In the West Riding there were numerous small coal workings. Until the late 12th century the cloth industry was mostly urban, focussed on York and Beverley. By 1300 the towns of Hedon, Masham, Northallerton, Ripon, Selby, Whitby and Yarm were also involved in cloth manufacture. Around this time the balance of cloth manufacturing was changing in favour of the West Riding rural communities where it was a cottage industry and free of the restrictions of town guilds.

 

The Danes changed the Old English name for York from Eoforwic, to Jorvik. The Vikings destroyed all the early monasteries in the area and took the monastic estates for themselves. Some of the minster churches survived the plundering and eventually the Danish leaders were converted to Christianity.

 

In the late 9th century Jorvik was ruled by the Christian King Guthfrith. It was under the Danes that the ridings and wapentakes of Yorkshire and the Five Burghs were established. The ridings were arranged so that their boundaries met at Jorvik, which was the administrative and commercial centre of the region.

 
The Swedish Munsö dynasty became overlords of Jorvik because the Danes in Britain had promised loyalty to the Munsö Kings of Dublin, but this dynasty was focused on the Baltic Sea economy and quarrelled with the native Danish Jelling dynasty (which originated in the Danelaw with Guthrum).

 
The Norse-Gaels, Ostmen or Gallgaidhill became Kings of Jorvik after long contests with the Danes over controlling the Isle of Man, which prompted the Battle of Brunanburh. Then, in 954, King Eric I of Norway of the Fairhair dynasty was slain at the Battle of Stainmore by Anglo-Saxons and Edred of England began overlordship.


Jorvik
was the direct predecessor to the shire of York and received further Danish royal aids after the invasion and takeover of Jorvik by England, from the Munsö descendants, Sweyn II of Denmark right down to Canute IV of Denmark's martyrdom. Saint Olave's Church in York is a testament to the Norwegian influence in the area.

The post Roman period (410 AD to 866 AD)

 

This is the period from the departure of the Romans in about 410 AD to the start of Danish supremacy in the area in 866 AD. At the end of Roman rule in the 5th century, Northern Britain may have come under the rule of Romano-British Coel Hen, the last of the Roman-style Duces Brittanniarum (Dukes of the Britons). However, the Romano-British kingdom rapidly broke up into smaller kingdoms and York became the capital of the British kingdom of Ebrauc. Most of what became Yorkshire fell under the rule of the kingdom of Ebrauc but Yorkshire also included territory in the kingdoms of Elmet and an unnamed region ruled by Dunod Fawr, which formed at around this time as did Craven.





In the late 5th century and early 6th century Angles from the Schleswig-Holstein peninsula began colonising the Wolds, North Sea and Humber coastal areas. This was followed by the subjugation of the whole of east Yorkshire and the British kingdom of Ebruac in about 560. The name the Angles gave to the territory was Dewyr, or Deira. Early rulers of Deira extended the territory north to the River Wear and about 600, Æthelfrith was able to unite Deira with the northern kingdom of Bernicia, forming the kingdom of Northumbria, whose capital was at Eoforwic, modern day York. A later ruler, Edwin of Northumbria completed the conquest of the area by his conquest of the kingdom of Elmet, including Hallamshire and Leeds, in 617. He converted to the Christian religion, along with his nobles and many of his subjects, in 627 and was baptised at Eoforwic. His defeat at the Battle of Hatfield Chase by Penda of Mercia in 633 was followed by continuing struggles between Mercia and Northumbria for supremacy over Deira.



Edwin's successor, Oswald, was sympathetic to the Celtic church and around 634 he invited Aidan from Iona to found a monastery at Lindisfarne as a base for converting Northumbria to Celtic Christianity. Aidan soon established a monastery on the cliffs above Whitby with Hilda as abbess.


Further monastic sites were established at Hackness and Lastingham and Celtic Christianity became more influential in Northumbria than the Roman system. This caused conflict within the church until the issue was resolved at the Synod of Whitby in 663 by Oswiu of Northumbria opting to adopt the Roman system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Vikings

 

For the kingdom of Northumbria the Viking era began in AD 793 with an attack on the monastery at Lindisfarne. Danish Vikings crossed the North Sea to plunder the coast of Northumbria whilst Norwegians raided Orkney, the Western Isles and Ireland. Yngling King Ragnar Lodbrok led a Danish Leidang into Northumbria during the mid-9th century, but was captured and executed in a snake pit at the Anglian court. The Danes embarked on a mission of vengeance, but were also part of the greater Scandinavian imperialist movement.

 
In 865 his eldest son Ivar the Boneless led younger sons in control of the army into landing at East Anglia, where they slew King Edmund the Martyr. After their landing in East Anglia, the Danes headed north and took York in 866, eventually conquering the whole of Northumbria and Kingdom of Strathclyde.

 

In the 9th Century, the Vikings settled in many places all around the Yorkshire Moors, but there is no sign of them settling in them.

 

 

During the period AD 410 to 1066, Angles, Saxons and later Viking farmers settled in the Dales and villages started to develop.

 

The area of Farndale has been described as and area stretching, ‘northwards from the Wolds, of windswept moors of Hambleton and Cleveland (Cliffland) and still remain much as they were in pre-historic times. A refuge of broken peoples, a home of lost causes.’ Bede described the area as ‘vel bestiae commorari vel hommines bestialiter vivre conserverant.’ (A land fit only for wild beasts and men who live like wild beasts). When the Romans left the Saxons in very small numbers did venture into the dales on the moors and left their burial mounds and stone crosses on the high ground and these can still be seen. Thus the people who today come from the dales of the North Yorkshire Moors have remained essentially English for several hundred years and they have developed very special characteristics. In many respects, they remain a unique English Tribe.

 

 

The Royal Saxon Settlement at modern day Street House

 

 

This diorama represents the Royal Saxon settlement excavated at modern day Street House. It shows the unusual layout of the cemetery, including the bed burial structure, the people and the building of the settlement, and a small ship at the beach at nearby Skinningrove, as her crew traded goods with the local inhabitants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Roman Period (70 AD to 410 AD)

 

Yorkshire was part of the Roman Empire between 71 AD and 410 AD. The Romans did not advance into north eastern Yorkshire beyond the River Don, which was the southern boundary of the Brigantian territory.

 
The Romans did however build roads northwards to Eboracum (York), Derventio (Malton) and Isurium Brigantum (Aldborough).


In 402 AD the Roman garrison at York was recalled because of military threats from other parts of the empire.

 

During the period 700BC to 410 AD, the climate became cooler and wetter. Soils on the high ground of the North Yorkshire moors had been exhausted. Farers moved to lower ground. The moorland generally reachd about the same extent as exists today.

 

 

 

 

 

The Romans came into the area further east to patrol the coast. They built roads, part of which still exist and warning stations on the cliffs at places like Huntcliffe. No doubt Roman patrols passed through Farndale, but there is no evidence that they stopped there. 

 

 

The Iron Age (700 BC to 70 AD)

 

The Iron Age people, such as the Beaker Folk were conquered by Celtic speaking invaders who had entered Gaul from the Mediterranean. They settled in Britain and became known as the Brigantes (Ancient Britons). The Celts were skilled horsemen. They went into battle with iron wheeled, horse drawn chariots, and attacked their enemy with swords and spears.

 

Their farmsteads were made up of groups of small square or rectangular fields and were often enclosed by low walls of gravel or stones. Their huts were made of branches, or wattle and stood on low foundations of stone.

 

There was a massive hill fort at Roulston Scar, which dates back to around 400 BC. The site covers 60 acres, defended by a perimeter 1.3 miles long. It is the largest Iron Age fort of its kind in the north of England.

 

There are outlines of other such settlements near Grassington and Malham. The most impressive Iron Age remains are at Stanwick, north of Richmond.

 

The Brigantes were not the only Celtic tribe to occupy northeast Yorkshire. In Holderness and the Wolds area, were a tribe known as the Parisii (who came from Belgium).

 

The Brigantes were a highly organised society, with a hierarchy of military rulers. The mobility provided from their horsemanship enables them to control lager areas.

 
The Brigantes fought hard to defend themselves against the Roman invaders. Several large fortifications witness their efforts.

The last inhabitants of the area before the Romans were illiterate, but left their mark in the place names of Yorkshire. Many Yorkshire rivers carry Celtic names - Aire, Calder, Don, Nidd, Wharfe.

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

The Brigantes were a Celtic tribe who lived between the Tyne and the Humber.

 

 

    

Roulston Scar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bronze Age (1800 BC to 700 BC)

 

The use of bronze was probably introduced into Yorkshire by the Beaker Folk, who entered the area via the Humber Estuary in about 1800 BC.

They came across the Wolds and crossed the Pennines. Their name is derived from their tradition to bury beaker shaped urns with their dead.

Beaker Folk reached Malham Moor and occupied sites on the Wolds. There is evidence that they cultivated wheat and there is evidence of trade. They imported flat bronze axes from Ireland. They exported ornaments made of Whitby jet. They traded in salt and had sea connections with Scandinavia.

Possibly transition into the Bronze Age came about by invasion, or it may have evolved through trade and peaceful contacts.

 

The people of the Bronze Age continued to hunt in upland areas. There have been finds of their barbed and tanged flint arrowheads. Gradually these were replaced with metal tools and weapons.

 

The Bronze age was a time of changes in burial rituals. Bodies were buried beneath circular mounds (round barrows) often accompanied by bronze artefacts. There are many barrows in upland locations on the Wolds and the Moors.

 

Early Bronze Age burials were performed at Ferrybridge Henge.

 

There is a Street House Long Barrow at Loftus, where many later Farndales lived and are buried.

 

 

 

 

 

Beaker folk

 

 

 

The Neolithic Period, the New Stone Age (3000 BC to 1800 BC)

 

The New Stone Age was the period when tool making skills produced stone axes, flint axes, arrow heads, spear points, fired clay beakers and woven cloth.

 

A revolutionary advance was made in the cultural development of northeast Yorkshire at around 3000 BC. This was the arrival from continental Europe of the first Neolithic (New Stone Age) settlers. These people must have crossed in boats; probably in dug out canoes. The Neolithic Revolution involved arable farming and the domestication of animals.


Neolithic society made pottery, weaved cloth and made baskets. These people no longer lived a semi nomadic existence. Permanent settlements were built, like to one at Ulrome, between Hornsea and Bridlington, where a dwelling built on wooden piles on the shore of a shallow lake has been found.

The Neolithic people buried their dead with ceremony, in chambered mounds called barrows. There are examples of long and round barrows.

 

The start of stone age farming in the area of the north Yorkshire moors was in about 3,000 BC. Though there is some evidence of farming from about 5,000 years ago. By 3000 BC permanent settlements were built by Neolithic people.

 

From about 2,000 BC huge prehistoric monuments appeared in the Megalithic Period.

 

The largest standing stone in Britain is a single pillar of grindstone, 25 feet high. It dominates the churchyard at Rudstone, a few miles west of Bridlington. The nearest source of stone is 10 miles north of the site.

 

The organisation enquired erect the large megalithic structures and the barrows suggests highly developed society.

 

 

 

This was the period represented by the Windy Pit discoveries, including Beaker People pottery and human remains.

 

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Ulrome

 

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Barrows

 

 

 

 

The Mesolithic Period (9,500 to 3,000 BC)

 

The Ice Age ended by about 11,000 years ago.

 

The Middle Stone Age was the period after the ice had receded. Early humans lived at Star Carr. Archaeological finds at Star Carr provide evidence of early human activity. Microlith sites have been found on the Moors at Brandsale, Blakey, Bilsdale, Farndale and many more locations including flint and stone chippings and tools. Star Carr was first occupied in about 9,000 BC.

 

By about 8,500 BC, the Howick House was built.

 

By about 6,500 BC, the British Isles became an island.

 

In a different area of Britain, the Severn Estuary footprints date back to about 5,000 BC.

 

The earliest evidence of domestic crops and animals in the region dates back to about 4,000 BC.

 

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The first humans arrived in Yorkshire about 10,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age. This followed the shrinking of the ice cap which had covered northern Britain.

 



At that time, there was a land connection with continental Europe, across the southern half of the North Sea. Early stone age hunters were able to wander from north Germany and Jutland to eastern England in search of food and shelter.

Their food came from wild animals, birds and fish and from berries and other fruit.

They sheltered in caves, such as Kirkland Cave near Pickering. There is evidence in such caves of animals which flourished in a warmer sub-tropical climate such as the bones of lions, elephants, rhinoceros and hippopotami. The Leeds Hippopotamus was found in a clay pit at Wortley in 1854.

However when the first humans arrived, the climate was still sub-arctic and the earlier animals which were found were mammoths, woolly rhinoceros and reindeer.

 

A Mesolothic group settled at Star Carr, near Scarborough. They lived in tents made from animal skins which were erected on wooden platforms around the edge of a large ice-dammed lake, Lake Pickering.

Star Carr is a Mesolithic archaeological site, about 5 miles south of Scarborough. It is generally regarded as the most important and informative Mesolithic site in Great Britain. It is as important to the Mesolithic period as Stonehenge is to the Neolithic period.

The site was occupied during the early Mesolithic archaeological period, contemporary with the preboreal and boreal climatic periods. Though the ice age had ended and temperatures were close to modern averages, sea levels had not yet risen sufficiently to separate Britain from continental Europe. Highlights among the finds include Britain’s oldest structure, 21 red deer stag skull-caps that may have been head-dresses and nearly 200 projectile, or harpoon, points made of red deer antler. These organic materials are preserved due to burial in waterlogged peat. Normally all that remains on Mesolithic sites are stone tools.

 

Another site was occupied by fishermen and hunters at Flixton, a few mils from Filey.

 

 

 

The first people appear to have arrived in the area of the North Yorkshire Moors about 10,000 years ago. They were hunters, hunting wild animals in the forests that covered the moors. Ove time the woodland was cleared to provide grazing for animals and the start of agriculture. Large areas of high ground were cleared. Fields were cultivated. Hillforts and dykes started to appear.

 

Starr Carr

 

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The Palaeolithic Period, the Old Stone Age (10,000 BC to 2.6 million year ago)

 

The Palaeolithic Period, also known as the Old Stone Age, is a period in human prehistory distinguished by the original development of stone tools. This period covers about 99% of human technological prehistory. It extends from the earliest known use of stone tools by hominids in Africa about 3.3 million years ago, to the end of the Pleistocene.

 

The last Ice Age dated from about 110,00 to 11.000 years ago. During this period there were warm and cold fluctuations. These warm periods lasted long enough to explain the presence of sub tropical animals in Kirkdale cave.

 

For instance during a warm period about 80,000 years ago, the ice receded and sub tropical forest covered the land. This included the area of Kirkdale Cave, where hyena remains have been discovered. Those hyena continued to use the den into the following cold spell, then the land became more like the steppes of Russia today, so that mammoth and sabre tooth tigers roamed. At that time ice filled the North Sea and dammed up the drainage of the vale to the east.

 

Then a warmer period returned and the ice melted again to flood the Vale of Pickering.

 

 

 

 

 

Although this period covers human prehistory on a global scale, humans do not appear to have emerged on the North Yorkshire Moors until about 9,000 BC, during the Mesolithic Period.

 

Kirkdale Cave

 

St Gregory's Minster is an Anglo-Saxon church in Kirkdale near Kirkbymoorside in the Vale of Pickering. It was rebuilt in 1055 to 1065 perhaps after a Danish raid. In 1821, a quarry close to the Minster was being worked for road stone. The quarry men cut through a cave entrance. They spread stone chippings on the road, not noticing small bones. This cave was later found to have been covered by many inches depth of animal bones beneath a layer of dried mud.

 

The local vicar later spotted the bones and reported his find to the Reverend William Buckland, who was a professor of minerology and geology at Oxford University. Buckland came to the site in 1822. He later reported to the Royal Society in London the discovery of (1) straight tusked elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, bison and giant bear finds from the earlier warmer period; and (2) mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, reindeer, horse and sabre tooth tiger remains from the later cold spells.

 

The hyena bones were abundant and evidenced that hyena dragged animal parts into the cave to eat them.

 

All the bones at Kirkdale were accumulated across the cave floor and later a sediment of mud was introduced on a single occasion. This covered thousands of bone remains. Perhaps this mud was carried in by a rush of water, perhaps from glacial melt flooding through Newton Dale to lift Lake Pickering to a height of 250 metres. Thereafter a gradual reduction in the depth of Lake Pickering followed over many years, as water escaped through Kirkham Gorge, to flow towards the Humber Region. The Vale was then left as a great wetland of scattered small lakes, later turned by humans to agricultural land.