The Mill Under the Reservoir

Embsay with Eastby parish in the south of the National Park has a significant industrial heritage, with the Industrial Revolution resulting in several mills being built here. One, Whitfield Syke Mill, had a long and varied history as a spinning mill, a ‘health resort’ and home to the Navvy Mission Society – until it was demolished and flooded by the construction of Embsay Reservoir. Continue reading “The Mill Under the Reservoir”

A legendary home, fit for a king?

The long history of Pendragon Castle – a fortified tower-house in Mallerstang, Cumbria, dating from the twelfth century – has meant that it is steeped in mystery.

According to legend, the original castle was built by Uther Pendragon, father of King Arthur, in the fifth century. It is rumoured to have been the site of Uther’s death – along with 100 of his men – when a well was poisoned by the Saxons.

It is said that Uther unsuccessfully tried to divert the river to provide the castle’s moat, and this is recalled in a well-known local couplet: “Let Uther Pendragon do what he can/ Eden will run where Eden ran”.

However, there is currently no evidence to support the legend that there was a castle here before the twelfth century.

Continue reading “A legendary home, fit for a king?”

October 2017: Roman Milestone, Middleton

The Roman Milestone at Middleton is cylindrical in shape, approximately 1.7m high and 0.45m in diameter. The East side has an inscription: “MP LIII” – Milia Passuum 53. It is believed to refer to 53 miles from Carlisle. Below this there is another inscription: “SOLO ERVTVM RESTITVIT GVL MOORE AN MDCCCXXXVI” – added by the historian Dr Lingard to commemorate its discovery and re-erection by W. Moore. It is believed that Moore found the milestone when ploughing his land in 1836. It was then relocated to the top of a nearby hill and this inscription was added. There are some diagonal scratch marks on the northwest facing side which were likely made by ploughing.

Roman milestones were generally stone pillars with Latin inscriptions erected when a road was first constructed or when it was repaired. The inscriptions usually give the distance to the next, named, town, as well as the name of the reigning emperor and the particular year of his reign in which the milestone was placed, which allows them to be accurately dated. This milestone is unusual as it does not record the full name and titles of the emperor who built or repaired the road.

Continue reading “October 2017: Roman Milestone, Middleton”

September 2017: Crook Gill packhorse bridge

There is a single span packhorse bridge that crosses Crook Gill. This bridge lies on an old packhorse route from Bishopdale into Wharfedale. A packhorse bridge is intended to carry horses loaded with side-bags or panniers (a packhorse) across a river or stream. Packhorse routes were the trade routes that formed major transport arteries of Great Britain until the coming of the turnpike roads and canals in the 18th Century. The bridge is situated roughly halfway between the hamlets of Cray and Hubberholme. The bridge crosses Crook Gill just before its confluence with Cray Gill, and 700m downstream joins the River Wharfe. Continue reading “September 2017: Crook Gill packhorse bridge”

August 2017: Bronze Age Cairn, Addleborough

There are the remains of a cairn prominently situated on the north crest of Addleborough, overlooking Wensleydale. A cairn is a mound of rough stones, often built as a memorial or landmark, although sometimes simply as an agricultural feature to clear land for farming . This cairn is believed to mark an early Bronze Age (circa 2000-1500 BC) burial site. Prehistoric funerary cairns are typically constructed on hilltops or in visually prominent skyline locations. There has been some natural erosion of the site over time, as well as man-made changes.

It is visible as a low stone mound, largely turf-covered and with a maximum diameter of 10.5m and 0.6m high. Several large boulders are exposed across the cairn, and have varying amounts of cup marks on them. One example has at least 30 cup marks of a few centimetres across. There are also distinct channels which appear as ring segments, and highlight particular cups. Abstract cup and ring marks are decorative features that are found quite frequently in upland areas, and are a form of prehistoric rock art. It appears that for geological reasons, rock art is a little more unusual in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, than in other upland areas.

An Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar was situated on the north side of this site. However, its location meant that the cairn was suffering significant footfall and livestock erosion during the 1980’s and 90’s.  The pillar was removed several years ago, and the condition of the mound improved following this. [The triangulation pillar can be seen at the right hand side of the header image.]

The cairn is designated as a scheduled monument.


Historic Environment Record: MYD4221

Parish: Bainbridge

OS Grid Reference: SD946881

Dale: Upper Wensleydale

Out of Oblivion:

Access: The cairn is on open access land.

July 2017: Linton Camp School

Historic Environment Record: MYD49907

Parish: Linton

OS Grid Reference: SE00256275

Dale: Lower Wharfedale

Access: Not on open access land, it is private property. The site is visible from a number of public rights of way that are close by. It is also visible from locations on the B6160 and the B6265, however, please note that the roads are narrow so it is not possible to stop.


A residential camp near the village of Linton survives virtually intact. The buildings were constructed out of timber frames with horizontal timber cladding, beneath overhanging cedar shingle roofs. A number of them have brick chimney stacks. The frames and floor joists rest on brick and concrete piers. However, the remaining buildings are in varying condition, and the site is rapidly deteriorating. A fair amount of the cladding has been damaged or removed, most glass is missing from the windows, and the cedar shingle roofs are in poor condition with a lot of the shingles missing or rotting.

The site includes many buildings and features. There are a number of single-storey classrooms/dormitories that remain, as well as a larger building that would have been a canteen, and is now greatly deteriorated. There was an outdoor swimming pool, which has since been filled with rubble. An in-filled air raid shelter can be seen as an earthwork and the entrance by the survival of the top of the stairs that would have led down into the shelter. (It is possible that remains of the air raid shelter would remain in situ.)  Originally, there would also have been shower blocks, a greenhouse, a headmaster’s house, a central boiler house, and a water tower. A former playing field occupies the eastern part of the site.

Linton Camp is one of a series of Camp Schools built by the National Camps Corporation in 1939 to house evacuees. In this case to house evacuees from Bradford and Leeds, originally whose fathers were away in the forces and whose mothers were often doing shift work in the mills or munitions factories.

The National Camps Corporation constructed around 31 camps in rural locations around England to house evacuees from nearby cities. The architect T. S. Tait was responsible for the design of the buildings. The schools were constructed of timber chalet buildings of a standard design, chosen for its economy and camouflage capabilities. Some of these camps have been demolished, some have been repurposed into things such as caravan sites and outdoor learning centres, and some have fallen into disrepair (like Linton).

Following the war the camp was used to provide residential education in a healthy environment for inner city children by the National Camps Corporation. The camp would therefore have played a significant role in introducing inner city children to the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales. In 1946 the National Camps Corporation was wound down. However, the camp was purchased in 1957 by Bradford Metropolitan Council, and continued as a residential school until its closure in May 1986. It was then periodically used as a summer camp for scout groups. It has been unused for many years now.


The land to the south of the site contains archaeological remains of a medieval settlement. The settlement likely contained several buildings, possibly including one long house, as well as around 20 small folds and paddocks, and a medieval quarry. The settlement and the remains of medieval field systems are visible as earthworks. This is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. [Historic Environment Record: MYD57541 and MYD36675]

[The earthworks of the Scheduled Ancient Monument can be seen in the right of this aerial image]

May 2017(c): Ribblehead “Viking” Farmstead, settlement on Gauber High Pasture Rock

Historic Environment Record: MYD3669

Parish: Ingleton

OS Grid Reference: SD765784

Dale: Ribblesdale

Out of Oblivion:

Access: This site is publicly accessible, see Out of Oblivion for more details.


The settlement on Gauber High Pasture Rock (1100ft above sea level) is believed to be a Viking farmstead, possibly dating to the ninth century.


The farmstead is comprised of three buildings clustered around a paved courtyard, situated on a bare limestone pavement. The farmstead was initially recognised by their outlines in the turf, and today only the building foundations survive. The site was excavated in 1975-6, and included finds of coins, a long spearhead, and knives. The coins found were minted at York around the middle of the ninth century, suggesting that the Ribblehead farm was occupied in the second half of the ninth century, and this would make it one of the earliest groups of Scandinavian settlers in Yorkshire. The site is thought to be Viking in date due to the four ninth century coins and a Scandinavian knife that were found during the excavations. However,  debate continues amongst archaeologists as to the actual date of the site due to earlier excavations possibly having disturbed the context of the finds.


The largest structure has internal measurements of 64ft × 14ft, and walls averaging 5ft in thickness, and is believed to be the main domestic building. Excavations have suggested that the buildings would have had ridged timber roofs and were likely turf or heather thatched. One of the smaller adjacent buildings had a central hearth and deposits of iron scale around it, suggesting that it was a smithy.


In a charter of 1203 the site is referred to as a Hermitage (where a small community lived a religious life in seclusion).


The condition of this site is monitored as part of the Monuments at Risk Survey.


Photo credit: R Evans on behalf of YDNPA.

May 2017(b): Ellerton Priory


Historic Environment Record: MYD34854

Parish: Ellerton Abbey

OS Grid Reference: SE079973

Dale: Swaledale

Out of Oblivion:

Access: Please note that there is no public access to Ellerton Priory. It is visible from the roadside, but the road can be dangerous so please take care.


Ellerton Priory was a small house of Cistercian nuns, founded in the reign of Henry II (1154-89) by Warner, steward of the Earls of Richmond. It was always a small, poorly endowed house, and it was thought that there were only 13 nuns there at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Today the nunnery mainly survives as earthworks, however there are upstanding remains of the priory church.


The priory church is believed to date from the fifteenth century, perhaps earlier. The church survives as a ruin: a narrow, aisle-less nave and choir, with west tower. The north and east walls of the nave and choir are partially standing, of varied height between 1 and 3 metres. The tower of the Priory church appears to have been rebuilt as a romantic ruin sometime during the 19th century. Further consolidation work to the church was undertaken by the YDNPA in 1996.


The church is surrounded by indistinct earthworks but a geophysical survey has traced the details of the cloister and other buildings. A grand country house or shooting lodge was built nearby in 1830 and named ‘Ellerton Abbey’.


It is designated as a Scheduled Monument.

May 2017(a): Field Barn on Occupation Road, Muker


Historic Environment Record: MYD36689

Parish: Muker

OS Grid Reference: SD912977

Dale: Swaledale

Out of Oblivion:

Access: Please note that this field barn can be viewed from a bridleway but that there is no public access to the interior of the barn, or the adjoining field.


This stone field barn is unusual as it has a date stone over one of its doors. The date stone is marked W Hall, the last number is missing, but what remains dates the barn’s construction to between 1800 and 1809. This places it near the beginning of the widespread process of replacing timber barns with stone ones in the Dales. In construction, the barn is typical of the small stone field barns to be found in this part of Swaledale. It is a two door field barn with relatively well-coursed sandstone and limestone block walling with regular lines of throughs, as well as slit vents on the south elevation. Over the winter, cattle were housed in the shippon below while their food, hay from the surrounding fields, was stored in the mew alongside and also in the loft above. Muck from the cows was spread on the fields as fertilizer in the spring.


The barn survives in fair condition, though in a slightly altered form. It has been restored with the aid of a grant from the National Park Authority.


This field barn falls within the Barns and Walls Conservation Area of Upper Swaledale and Arkengarthdale. A dominant feature of the two valleys is the intricate pattern of drystone walls and dense network of traditional stone-built field barns. In Swaledale there are on average 14 field barns per square kilometre. As farming has changed and developed the field barns have become more redundant and derelict making our Every Barn Tells a Story (EBTAS) project ever more necessary. Read more about EBTAS at