THE EVOLUTION OF AN ENGLISH TOWN
Being the story of the ancient town of PICKERING in Yorkshire from Prehistoric times up to the year of our Lord Nineteen Hundred & 5
BY GORDON HOME
TO ALL THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN THEIR GENEROUS HELP IN THE COMPILATION OF THIS BOOK
The original suggestion that I should undertake this task came from the Vicar of Pickering, and it is due to his co-operation and to the great help received from Dr John L. Kirk that this history has attained its present form. But beyond this I have had most valuable assistance from so many people in Pickering and the villages round about, that to mention them all would almost entail reprinting the local directory. I would therefore ask all those people who so kindly put themselves to great trouble and who gave up much time in order to help me, to consider that they have contributed very materially towards the compilation of this record.
Beyond those who live in the neighbourhood of Pickering, I am particularly indebted to Mr Richard Blakeborough for his kind help and the use of his invaluable collection of Yorkshire folklore. Mr Blakeborough was keen on collecting the old stories of hobs, wraithes and witches just long enough ago to be able to tap the memories of many old people who are no longer with us, and thus his collection is now of great value. Nearly all the folklore stories I am able to give, are those saved from oblivion in this way.
I have also had much help from Mr J. Romilly Allen and from Mr T.M. Fallow of Coatham, who very generously gave his aid in deciphering some of the older records of Pickering.
To Professor Percy F. Kendall who so kindly gave me permission to reproduce his map showing the Vale of Pickering during the Glacial Epoch, as well as other valuable help, I am also greatly indebted; and I have to thank Professor W. Boyd Dawkins for his kindness in reading some of the proofs, and for giving valuable suggestions.
EPSOM, May 1905.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
CHAPTER I CONCERNING THOSE WHICH FOLLOW
CHAPTER II THE FOREST AND VALE OF PICKERING IN PALAEOLITHIC AND PRE-GLACIAL TIMES
CHAPTER III THE VALE OF PICKERING IN THE LESSER ICE AGE
CHAPTER IV THE EARLY INHABITANTS OF THE FOREST AND VALE OF PICKERING
CHAPTER V HOW THE ROMAN OCCUPATION OF BRITAIN AFFECTED THE FOREST AND VALE OF PICKERING, B.C. 55 TO A.D. 418
CHAPTER VI THE FOREST AND VALE IN SAXON TIMES, A.D. 418 TO 1066
CHAPTER VII THE FOREST AND VALE IN NORMAN TIMES, A.D. 1066 TO 1154
CHAPTER VIII THE FOREST AND VALE IN THE TIME OF THE PLANTAGENETS, A.D. 1154 TO 1485
CHAPTER IX THE FOREST AND VALE IN TUDOR TIMES, A.D. 1485 TO 1603
CHAPTER X THE FOREST AND VALE IN STUART TIMES, A.D. 1603 TO 1714
CHAPTER XI THE FOREST AND VALE IN GEORGIAN TIMES, A.D. 1714 TO 1837
CHAPTER XII THE FOREST AND VALE FROM EARLY VICTORIAN TIMES UP TO THE PRESENT DAY, A.D. 1837 TO 1905
CHAPTER XIII Concerning the Villages and Scenery of the Forest and Vale of Pickering
CHAPTER XIV Concerning the Zoology of the Forest and Vale
* * * * *
Books of Reference
List of the Vicars of Pickering
THE PURPOSE OF THE FOOTNOTES
Having always considered footnotes an objectionable feature, I have resorted to them solely for reference purposes. Therefore, the reader who does not wish to look up my authorities need not take the slightest notice of the references to the footnotes, which in no case contain additional facts, but merely indications of the sources of information.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Pickering Church from Hall Garth (Coloured)
Pickering From The North-West
Rosamund Tower, Pickering Castle
Pickering Lake in Ice Age
Newtondale in Ice Age
Pickering Lake, Eastern End
Leaf-shaped Arrow Head
Lake Dwellings Relics
Remains of Pre-Historic Animals from Lake Dwellings
Skeleton of Bronze Age
Urns in Pickering Museum
Sketch Map of Roman Road and Camps
The Tower of Middleton Church
Ancient Font and Crosses
Saxon Sundial at Kirkdale
Saxon Sundial at Edstone
Pre-Norman Remains near Pickering
Saxon Stones at Kirkdale
Saxon Stones at Sinnington
South Side of the Nave of Pickering Church
Norman Doorway at Salton
Norman Work at Ellerburne
The Crypt at Lastingham
Norman Font at Edstone
Wall Paintings in Pickering Church
The Devil's Tower, Pickering Castle
Wall Painting of St Christopher
Wall Painting of St Edmund and Acts of Mercy
Wall Painting of Herod's Feast and Martyrdom of St Thomas A Becket
Effigy of Sir William Bruce
Effigies in Bruce Chapel
Holy Water Stoup in Pickering Church
Section of Fork Cottage
Details of Fork Cottage
Pickering Castle from the Keep
Font at Pickering Church
Alms Box at Pickering Church
House in which Duke of Buckingham Died
Maypole on Sinnington Green
Inverted Stone Coffin at Wykeham
Newtondale, showing the Coach Railway
Relics of Witchcraft
A Love Garter
Horn of the Sinnington Hunt
Interior of the Oldest Type of Cottage
Ingle-Nook at Gallow Hill Farm
Autographs of Wordsworth and Mary Hutchinson
Riding t' Fair
Halbert and Spetum
Old Key of Castle
The Old Pickering Fire-Engine
Market Cross at Thornton-le-Dale
The Black Hole of Thornton-le-Dale
Hutton Buscel Church
Sketch Map of the Pickering District
Every preface in olden time was wont to begin with the address "Lectori Benevolo"—the indulgence of the reader being thereby invoked and, it was hoped, assured. In that the writer of this at least would have his share, even though neither subject, nor author, that he introduces, may stand in need of such a shield.
Local histories are yearly becoming more numerous. In few places is there more justification for one than here.
I. The beauty of the scenery is not well known. This book should do something to vindicate its character. There is no need on this point to go back to the time of George III.'s conversation at the levee with Mrs Pickering's grandfather. "I suppose you are going back to Yorkshire, Mr Stanhope? A very ugly country, Yorkshire." This was too much for my grandfather—(the story is told in her own words)—"We always consider Yorkshire a very picturesque country." "What, what, what," said the King, "a coalpit a picturesque object! what, what, what, Yorkshire coalpits picturesque! Yorkshire a picturesque country!" Only within the last few months one of us had a letter refusing to consider a vacant post: the reason given being that this was a colliery district. There is no pit to be found for miles. Many can, and do, walk, cycle, or motor through the Vale. Others, who are unable to come and see for themselves, will, with the help of Mr Home, be in a better position to appreciate at its true worth the charm of the haughs and the changing views of the distant Wolds, and of the russet brown or purple expanse of the upland moors.
[Footnote 1: "Memoirs of Anna M.W. Pickering."]
II. The stranger on a visit, no less the historian or antiquary, has till now often been puzzled for a clue, and ignorant where to turn for authentic data, would he attempt to weave for himself a connected idea of the incidents of the past and their bearing on the present. There has been no lack of material buried in ancient records, or preserved in the common oral traditions of the folk: but hitherto no coherent account that has been published. Speaking for ourselves, we are glad the task of dealing with the "raffled hank" of timeworn customs and obscure traditions as well as the more easily ascertained facts of history is falling to the author's practised pen. For the future, at any rate, there should be less difficulty in understanding the manner of life and method of rule with which past and present generations belonging to the Town of Pickering have been content to dwell.
III. "Foreigners" are sometimes at a loss to understand the peculiar spirit of those who in York, for instance, are known as "Moor-enders." This spirit shows itself in different ways; but perhaps in nothing so much as the intense attachment of the townsmen to their birthplace. This local patriotism is no whit behind that to be found in Spain—"seldom indeed a Spaniard says he is a Spaniard, but speaks of himself as being from Seville, Cadiz, or some forgotten town in La Mancha, of which he speaks with pride, referring to it as 'mi tierra.'" Our readers will learn there is some reason for this attachment; and may, like some of us, who tho' born elsewhere claim adoption as citizens, fall under the witchery of its spell.
[Footnote 1: C.R.L. Fletcher in his "History of England" tells us that townsmen of the thirteenth century were wont to brand their brethren in all the neighbouring towns as "foreigners." Those we call foreigners, they called aliens. The expression itself was made use of not long ago at a meeting of the Urban Council.]
[Footnote 2: R.B. Cunninghame Graham, "Hernando de Soto."]
May the venture to compass these ends succeed, to use an old saying, "ez sartin ez t' thorn-bush."
[Footnote 1: It used to be the custom for the parson to collect the tithe by placing a branch of thorn in every tenth stook; he choosing the stooks and sending his cart along for them. R. Blakeborough, "Yorkshire Humour and Customs."]
The Vicarage, Pickering.
25th September 1904.
Concerning those which follow
"Brother," quod he, "where is now youre dwellyng, Another day if that I sholde you seche?" This yeman hym answerde, in softe speche: "Brother," quod he, "fer in the north contree, Where as I hope som tyme I shal thee see."
The Friar's Tale. Chaucer.
In the North Riding of Yorkshire, there is a town of such antiquity that its beginnings are lost far away in the mists of those times of which no written records exist. What this town was originally called, it is impossible to say, but since the days of William the Norman (a pleasanter sounding name than "the Conqueror,") it has been consistently known as Pickering, although there has always been a tendency to spell the name with y's and to abandon the c, thus producing the curious-looking result of Pykeryng; its sound, however was the same.
In his Chronicles, John Stow states on the authority of "divers writers" that Pickering was built in the year 270 B.C., but I am inclined to think that the earliest settlements on the site or in the neighbourhood of the present town must have been originated at an infinitely earlier period.
But despite its undisputed antiquity there are many even in Yorkshire who have never heard of the town, and in the south of England it is difficult to find anyone who is aware that such a place exists. At Rennes during the great military trial there was a Frenchman who asked "Who is Dreyfus?" and we were surprised at such ignorance of a name that had been on the lips of all France for years, but yet we discover ourselves to be astonishingly lacking in the knowledge of our own little island and find ourselves asking "why should anyone trouble to write a book about a town of which so few have even heard?" But it is often in the out-of-the-way places that historical treasures are preserved, and it is mainly for this reason and the fact that the successive periods of growth are so well demonstrated there, that the ancient town of Pickering has been selected to illustrate the evolution of an English town.
I have endeavoured to produce a complete series of pictures commencing with the Ice Age and finishing at the dawn of the twentieth century. In the earlier chapters only a rough outline is possible, but as we come down the centuries and the records become more numerous and varied, fuller details can be added to the pictures of each age, and we may witness how much or how little the great series of dynastic, constitutional, religious and social changes effected a district that is typical of many others in the remoter parts of England.
Built on sloping ground that rises gently from the rich, level pastures of the Vale of Pickering, the town has a picturesque and pleasant site. At the top of the market-place where the ground becomes much steeper stands the church, its grey bulk dominating every view. From all over the Vale one can see the tall spire, and from due east or west it has a surprising way of peeping over the hill tops. It has even been suggested that the tower and spire have been a landmark for a very long time, owing to the fact that where the hills and formation of the ground do not obstruct the view, or make road-making difficult, the roads make straight for the spire.
With few exceptions the walls of the houses are of the same weather-beaten limestone as the church and the castle, but seen from above the whole town is transformed into a blaze of red, the curved tiles of the locality retaining their brilliant hue for an indefinite period. Only a very few thatched roofs remain to-day, but the older folks remember when most of the houses were covered in that picturesque fashion.
Pickering has thus lost its original uniform greyness, relieved here and there by whitewash, and presents strong contrasts of colour against the green meadows and the masses of trees that crown the hill where the castle stands. The ruins, now battered and ivy-mantled, are dignified and picturesque and still sufficiently complete to convey a clear impression of the former character of the fortress, three of the towers at angles of the outer walls having still an imposing aspect. The grassy mounds and shattered walls of the interior would, however, be scarcely recognisable to the shade of Richard II. if he were ever to visit the scene of his imprisonment.
Since the time of Henry VIII. when Leland described the castle, whole towers and all the interior buildings except the chapel have disappeared. The chief disasters probably happened before the Civil War, although we are told, by one or two eighteenth century writers, as an instance of the destruction that was wrought, that after the Parliamentary forces had occupied the place and "breached the walls," great quantities of papers and parchments were scattered about Castle-gate, the children being attracted to pick them up, many of them bearing gilt letters. During the century which has just closed, more damage was done to the buildings and in a short time all the wooden floors in the towers completely disappeared.
Stories are told of the Parliamentary troops being quartered in Pickering church, and, if this were true, we have every reason to bless the coats of whitewash which probably hid the wall-paintings from their view. The series of fifteenth century pictures that now cover both walls of the nave would have proved so very distasteful to the puritan soldiery that it is impossible to believe that they could have tolerated their existence, especially when we find it recorded that the font was smashed and the large prayer-book torn to pieces at that time.
Pickering church has a fascination for the antiquary, and does not fail to impress even the most casual person who wanders into the churchyard and enters the spacious porch. The solemn massiveness of the Norman nave, the unusual effect of the coloured paintings above the arches, and the carved stone effigies of knights whose names are almost forgotten, carry one away from the familiar impressions of a present-day Yorkshire town, and almost suggest that one is living in mediaeval times. One can wander, too, on the moors a few miles to the north and see heather stretching away to the most distant horizon and feel that there, also, are scenes which have been identically the same for many centuries. The men of the Neolithic and Bronze Ages may have swept their eyes over landscapes so similar that they would find the moorlands quite as they knew them, although they would miss the dense forests of the valleys and the lower levels.
The cottages in the villages are, many of them, of great age, and most of them have been the silent witnesses of innumerable superstitious rites and customs. When one thoroughly realises the degrading character of the beliefs that so powerfully swayed the lives of the villagers and moorland-folk of this district, as late as the first twenty years of the nineteenth century, one can only rejoice that influences arose sufficiently powerful to destroy them. Along with the revolting practises, however, it is extremely unfortunate to have to record the disappearance of many picturesque, and in themselves, entirely harmless customs. The roots of the great mass of superstitions have their beginnings so far away from the present time, that to embrace them all necessitates an exploration of all the centuries that lie between us and the pre-historic ages, and in the pages that follow, some of these connections with the past may be discovered.
The Forest and Vale of Pickering in Palaeolithic and Pre-Glacial Times.
The Palaeolithic or Old Stone Age preceded and succeeded the Great Glacial Epochs in the Glacialid.
In that distant period of the history of the human race when man was still so primitive in his habits that traces of his handiwork are exceedingly difficult to discover, the forest and Vale of Pickering seem to have been without human inhabitants. Remains of this Old Stone Age have been found in many parts of England, but they are all south of a line drawn from Lincoln to Derbyshire and North Wales. In the caves at Cresswell Craggs in Derbyshire notable Palaeolithic discoveries were made, but for some reason these savage hordes seem to have come no further north than that spot. We know, however, that many animals belonging to the pre-glacial period struggled for their existence in the neighbourhood of Pickering.
It was during the summer of 1821 that the famous cave at Kirkdale was discovered, and the bones of twenty-two different species of animals were brought to light. Careful examination showed that the cave had for a long time been the haunt of hyaenas of the Pleistocene Period, a geological division of time, which embraces in its latter part the age of Palaeolithic man. The spotted hyaena that is now to be found only in Africa, south of the Sahara, was then inhabiting the forests of Yorkshire and preying on animals now either extinct or only living in tropical climates. The waters of Lake Pickering seem to have risen to a sufficiently high level at one period to drive out the occupants of the cave and to have remained static for long enough to allow the accumulation of about a foot of alluvium above the bones that littered the floor. By this means it appears that the large quantity of broken fragments of bones that were recent at the time of the inundation were preserved to our own times without any perceptible signs of decomposition. Quarrying operations had been in progress at Kirkdale for some time when the mouth of the cave was suddenly laid bare by pure accident. The opening was quite small, being less than 5 feet square, and as it penetrated the limestone hill it varied from 2 to 7 feet in breadth and height; the quarrying had also left the opening at a considerable height up the perpendicular wall of stone. At the present time it is almost inaccessible, and except for the interest of seeing the actual site of the discoveries and the picturesqueness of the spot the cave has no great attractions.
[Footnote 1: Dawkins, W. Boyd. "Early man in Britain," p. 103.]
Not long after it was stumbled upon by the quarrymen Dr William Buckland went down to Kirkdale, and although some careless digging had taken place in the outer part of the cave before his arrival, he was able to make a most careful and exhaustive examination of the undisturbed portions, giving the results of his work in a paper read before the Royal Society in 1822. Besides the remains of many hyaenas there were teeth or bones of such large animals as the elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, horse, tiger, bear, urus (Bos primi-genius) an unknown animal of the size of a wolf, and three species of deer. The smaller animals included the rabbit, water-rat, mouse, raven, pigeon, lark and a small type of duck. Everything was broken into small pieces so that no single skull was found entire and it was, of course, impossible to obtain anything like a complete skeleton. From the fact that the bones of the hyaenas themselves had suffered the same treatment as the rest we may infer that these ferocious lovers of putrid flesh were in the habit of devouring those of their own species that died a natural death, or that possibly under pressure of hunger were inclined to kill and eat the weak or diseased members of the pack. From other evidences in the cave it is plain that its occupants were extremely fond of bones after the fashion of the South African hyaena.
[Footnote 1: Buckland, The Rev. Wm. "Account of an assemblage of fossil teeth and bones ... at Kirkdale."]
Although the existing species have jaws of huge strength and these prehistoric hyaenas were probably stronger still, it is quite improbable that they ever attacked such large animals as elephants; and the fact that the teeth found in the cave were of very young specimens seems to suggest that the hyaenas now and then found the carcase of a young elephant that had died, and dragged it piecemeal to their cave. The same would possibly apply to some of the other large animals, for hyaenas, unless in great extremes of hunger never attack a living animal. They have a loud and mournful howl, beginning low and ending high, and also a maniacal laugh when excited.
It might be suggested that the bones had accumulated in the den through dead bodies of animals being floated in during the inundation by the waters of the lake, but in that case the remains, owing to the narrowness of the mouth of the cave, could only have belonged to small animals, and the skeletons would have been more or less complete, and there are also evidences on many of the bones of their having been broken by teeth precisely similar to those of the hyaena.
We see therefore that in this remote age Britain enjoyed a climate which encouraged the existence of animals now to be found only in tropical regions, that herds of mammoths or straight-tusked elephants smashed their way through primaeval forests and that the hippopotamus and the woolly or small-nosed rhinoceros frequented the moist country at the margin of the lake. Packs of wolves howled at night and terrorised their prey, and in winter other animals from northern parts would come as far south as Yorkshire. In fact it seems that the northern and southern groups of animals in Pleistocene times appeared in this part of England at different seasons of the year and the hyaenas of Kirkdale would, in the opinion of Professor Boyd Dawkins, prey upon the reindeer at one time of the year and the hippopotamus at another.
Following this period came a time of intense cold, but the conditions were not so severe as during the Great Glacial times.
The Vale of Pickering in the Lesser Ice Age
Long before even the earliest players took up their parts in the great Drama of Human Life which has been progressing for so long in this portion of England, great changes came about in the aspect of the stage. These transformations date from the period of Arctic cold, which caused ice of enormous thickness to form over the whole of north-western Europe.
Throughout this momentous age in the history of Yorkshire, as far as we can tell, the flaming sunsets that dyed the ice and snow with crimson were reflected in no human eyes. In those far-off times, when the sun was younger and his majesty more imposing than at the present day, we may imagine a herd of reindeer or a solitary bear standing upon some ice-covered height and staring wonderingly at the blood-red globe as it neared the horizon. The tremendous silence that brooded over the face of the land was seldom broken save by the roar of the torrents, the reverberating boom of splitting ice, or the whistling and shrieking of the wind.
The evidences in favour of this glacial period are too apparent to allow of any contradiction; but although geologists agree as to its existence, they do not find it easy to absolutely determine its date or its causes.
Croll's theory of the eccentricity of the Earth's orbit as the chief factor in the great changes of the Earth's climate has now been to a great extent abandoned, and the approximate date of the Glacial Epoch of between 240,000 and 80,000 years ago is thus correspondingly discredited by many geologists. Professor Kendall inclines to the belief that not more than 25,000 years have elapsed since the departure of the ice from Yorkshire, the freshness of all the traces of glaciation being incompatible with a long period of post-glacial time.
[Footnote 1: "Climate and Time." James Croll, 1889.]
The superficial alterations in the appearance of these parts of Yorkshire were brought about by the huge glaciers which, at that time, choked up most of the valleys and spread themselves over the watersheds of the land.
In the warmer seasons of the year, when the Arctic cold relaxed to some extent, fierce torrents would rush down every available depression, sweeping along great quantities of detritus and boulders sawn off and carried sometimes for great distances by the slow-moving glaciers. The grinding, tearing and cannonading of these streams cut out courses for themselves wherever they went. In some cases the stream would occupy an existing hollow or old water-course, deepening and widening it, but in many instances where the ice blocked a valley the water would form lakes along the edge of the glacier, and overflowing across a succession of hill shoulders, would cut deep notches on the rocky slopes.
Owing to the careful work of Mr C.E. Fox-Strangways and of Professor Percy F. Kendall, we are able to tell, almost down to details, what took place in the Vale of Pickering and on the adjacent hills during this period.
In the map reproduced here we can see the limits of the ice during the period of its greatest extension. The great ice-sheet of the North Sea had jammed itself along the Yorkshire coast, covering the lower hills with glaciers, thus preventing the natural drainage of the ice-free country inland. The Derwent carrying off the water from some of these hills found its outlet gradually blocked by the advancing lobe of a glacier, and the water having accumulated into a lake (named after Hackness in the map), overflowed along the edge of the ice into the broad alluvial plain now called the Vale of Pickering. Up to a considerable height, probably about 200 feet, the drainage of the Derwent and the other streams flowing into the Vale was imprisoned, and thus Pickering Lake was formed.
The boulder clay at the seaward end of the Vale seems to have been capped by ice of a thickness of nearly 100 feet which efficiently contained the waters of the lake until they overflowed through a depression among the hills to the south of Malton. If the waters escaped by any other outlet to the west near Gilling and Coxwold, it can scarcely have been more than a temporary affair compared to the overflow that produced the gorge at Kirkham Abbey, as the Gilling Gap was itself closed by the great glacier descending the Vale of York. The overflow of the lake by this route, south of Malton, must have worn a channel down to a lower level than 130 feet O.D. before the ice retreated from the seaward end of the Vale, otherwise the escape would have taken place over the low hills blocking the valley in that direction and the normal course of the drainage of the country would have been resumed. The southern overflow evidently dug its way through the hills fast enough to maintain that outlet, and at the present time the narrow gorge at Kirkham Abbey is only 50 feet above sea level, and the hills through which the Derwent passes at this point are from 200 to 225 feet high.
As the waters of the lake gradually drained away, the Vale was left in a marshy state until the rivers gradually formed channels for themselves. In recent times drainage canals have been cut and the streams embanked, so that there is little to remind one of the existence of the lake save for the hamlet still known as The Marishes. The name is quite obviously a corruption of marshes, for this form is still in use in these parts, but it is interesting to know that Milton spelt the word in the same way as the name of this village, and in Ezekiel xlvii. II we find: "But the miry places thereof, and the marishes thereof, shall not be healed." The ease with which a lake could again be formed in the Vale was demonstrated in October 1903 after the phenomenally wet summer and autumn of that year, by a flood that covered the fields for miles and in several places half submerged the hedges and washed away the corn stooks.
The evidence in favour of the existence of Lake Pickering is so ample that, according to Professor Kendall, it may be placed "among the well-established facts of glacial geology."
[Footnote 1: Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, vol. lviii. part 3, No. 231, p. 501.]
We have thus an accredited explanation for the extraordinary behaviour of the river Derwent and its tributaries, including practically the whole of the drainage south of the Esk, which instead of taking the obviously simple and direct course to the sea, flow in the opposite direction to the slope of the rocks and the grain of the country. After passing through the ravine at Kirkham Abbey the stream eventually mingles with the Ouse, and thus finds its way to the Humber.
The splendid canon to the north of Pickering, known as Newton Dale, with its precipitous sides rising to a height of 300 or even 400 feet, must have assumed its present proportions principally during the glacial period when it formed an overflow valley from a lake held up by ice in the neighbourhood of Fen Bogs and Eller Beck. This great gorge is tenanted at the present time by Pickering Beck, an exceedingly small stream, which now carries off all the surface drainage and must therefore be only remotely related to its great precursor that carved this enormous trench out of the limestone tableland. Compared to the torrential rushes of water carrying along huge quantities of gravel and boulders that must have flowed from the lake at the upper end, Newton Dale can almost be considered a dry and abandoned valley.
At Fen Bogs, where there is a great depth of peat, Professor Kendall has discovered that if it were cleared out, "the channel through the watershed would appear as a clean cut, 75 feet deep." The results of the gouging operations of this glacier stream are further in evidence where the valley enters the Vale of Pickering, for at that point a great delta was formed. This fan-shaped accumulation of bouldery gravel is marked in the geological survey maps as covering a space of about two square miles south of Pickering, but the deposit is probably much larger, for Dr. Thornton Comber states that the gravel extends all the way to Riseborough and is found about 6 feet below the surface, everywhere digging has taken place in that direction. The delta is partly composed of rounded stones about 2 feet in diameter. These generally belong to the hard gritstone of the moors through which Newton Dale has been carved. Dr. Comber also mentioned the discovery of a whinstone from the great Cleveland Dyke, composed of basaltic rock, that traverses the hills near Egton and Sleights Moor, two miles above the intake of Newton Dale at Fen Bogs.
The existence of this gravel as far towards the west as Riseborough, suggests that the delta is really of much greater magnitude than that indicated in the survey map. It has also been proved that Newton Dale ceased its functions as a lake overflow, through the retreat of the ice-sheet above Eskdale long before the Glacial Period terminated, and this would suggest an explanation for the layer of Warp (an alluvial deposit of turbid lake waters) which partially covers the delta. The fierce torrents that poured into Lake Pickering down the steep gradient of this canon would require an exit of equal proportions, and it seems reasonable to suppose that the gorge at Kirkham Abbey was chiefly worn at the same time as Newton Dale.
Another delta was formed by the upper course of the Derwent to which I have already alluded. In this instance, the water flowed along the edge of the ice and cut out a shelf on the hill slopes near Hutton Buscel, and the detritus was carried to the front of the glacier. This deposit terminates in a crescent-shape and now forms the slightly elevated ground upon which Wykeham Abbey stands. The Norse word Wyke or Vik means a creek or bay, and the fact that such a name was given to this spot would suggest that the Vale was more than marshy in Danish times, and perhaps it even contained enough water to float shallow draught boats. Flotmanby is another suggestive name occurring at the eastern corner of the lake about four miles from Filey. In modern Danish flotman means a waterman or ferryman, and as there is, and was then, no river near Flotmanby, there is ground for believing that the Danes who settled at this spot found it necessary to ferry across the corner of the lake. Before the Glacial Period, the Vale of Pickering was beyond doubt from 100-150 feet deeper at the seaward end than at the present time, and even as far up the Valley as Malton the rock floor beneath the deposit of Kimeridge clay is below the level of the sea.
The Early Inhabitants of the Forest and Vale of Pickering
Almighty wisdom made the land Subject to man's disturbing hand, And left it all for him to fill With marks of his ambitious will....
Urgent and masterful ashore, Man dreams and plans, And more and more, As ages slip away, Earth shows How need by satisfaction grows, And more and more its patient face Mirrors the driving human race.
Edward Sandford Martin.
THE NEOLITHIC OR NEW STONE AGE Succeeded the Old Stone Age and overlapped the Bronze Age.
THE BRONZE AGE Succeeded the New Stone Age and overlapped the Early Iron Age.
THE EARLY IRON AGE Succeeded the Bronze Age and continued in Britain until the Roman Invasion in B.C. 54.
(All these periods overlapped.)
The Palaeolithic men had reached England when it was part of the continent of Europe, but after the lesser Glacial Period had driven the hairy savages southwards a slow earth movement produced what is now the English Channel and Britain was isolated. Gradually the cold relaxed and vegetation once more became luxuriant, great forests appeared and England was again joined to the continent. Possibly the more genial climate which began to prevail in this country and the northward movement of the reindeer brought the first Neolithic men into England, and it has been suggested that some of these earlier tribes whose implements have been discovered in White Park Bay, County Antrim and the MacArthur Cave, near Oban, form a link between the Palaeolithic and Neolithic people.
The culture of the New Stone Age was a huge advance upon that of the earlier races, although it is more than probable that the higher development existed in different parts of the world simultaneously with the lower, the more primitive people becoming influenced by the more advanced. A wave of great progress came with the Iberians of Spain who spread across France and reached Britain by means of boats at a time when it was probably once more an island.
Armed with bows and arrows and carefully finished stone axes and spears, clothed in skins and wearing ornaments of curious coloured stones or pieces of bone threaded on thin leathern cords, these Iberians or Neolithic men gradually spread all over the British Islands. They evidently liked the hills overlooking the fresh waters of Lake Pickering for their remains have been found there in considerable quantities.
The hills on all sides of the Vale are studded with barrows from which great quantities of burial urns and skeletons have been exhumed, and wherever the land is under cultivation the plough exposes flint arrow and spear-heads and stone axes.
Many of the numerous finds of this nature have disappeared in small private collections and out of the many barrows that have been explored only in a certain number of instances have any accurate records been taken. It is thus a somewhat difficult task to discover how much or how little of the plunder of the burial mounds belongs to the Neolithic and how much to the Bronze and later ages. The Neolithic people buried in long barrows which are by no means common in Yorkshire, but many of the round ones that have been thoroughly examined reveal no traces of metal, stone implements only being found in them. In Mr. Thomas Bateman's book, entitled "Ten Years' Diggings," there are details of two long barrows, sixty-three circular ones, and many others that had been already disturbed, which were systematically opened by Mr. James Ruddock of Pickering. The fine collection of urns and other relics are, Mr. Bateman states, in his own possession, and are preserved at Lomberdale; but this was in 1861, and I have no knowledge of their subsequent fate.
[Footnote 1: Greenwell, William. "British Barrows," p. 483.]
One of the few long barrows near Pickering, of which Canon Greenwell gives a detailed account, is situated near the Scamridge Dykes—a series of remarkable mounds and ditches running for miles along the hills north of Ebberston. It is highly interesting in connection with the origin of these extensive entrenchments to quote Canon Greenwell's opinion. He describes them as "forming part of a great system of fortification, apparently intended to protect from an invading body advancing from the east, and presenting many features in common with the wold entrenchments on the opposite side of the river Derwent...." "The adjoining moor," he says, "is thickly sprinkled with round barrows, all of which have, at some time or other, been opened, with what results I know not; while cultivation has, within the last few years (1877), destroyed a large number, the very sites of which can now only with great difficulty be distinguished. On the surface of the ground flint implements are most abundant, and there is probably no place in England which has produced more arrow-points, scrapers, rubbers, and other stone articles, than the country in the neighbourhood of the Scamridge Dykes." The doubts as to the antiquity of the Dykes that have been raised need scarcely any stronger refutation, if I may venture an opinion, than that they exist in a piece of country so thickly strewn with implements of the Stone Age. These entrenchments thus seem to point unerringly to the warfare of the early inhabitants of Yorkshire, and there can be little doubt that the Dykes were the scene of great intertribal struggles if the loss of such infinite quantities of weapons is to be adequately accounted for.
The size and construction of the Scamridge Dykes vary from a series of eight or ten parallel ditches and mounds deep enough and high enough to completely hide a man on horseback, to a single ditch and mound barely a foot above and below the ground level. The positions of the Dykes can be seen on the sketch map accompanying this book, but neither an examination of the map nor of the entrenchments themselves gives much clue as to their purpose. They do not keep always to the hill-tops and in places they appear to run into the valleys at right angles to the chief line. Overlooking Troutsdale, to the east of Scamridge farm, where the ground is covered with heather the excavations seem to have retained their original size, for at that point the parallel lines of entrenchments are deepest and most numerous. In various places the farmers have levelled cart tracks across the obstructions and in others they have been almost obliterated by ploughing, but as a rule, where cultivation touches them, the trenches have come to be boundaries for the fields.
The Neolithic people were only beginning to emerge from a state of absolute savagery, and it is possible that even at this time they were still cannibals. The evidence in support of this theory has been obtained from the condition of the bones found in long barrows, for, in many instances, they are discovered in such a dislocated and broken state, that there can be little doubt that the flesh was removed before burial. The long barrow at Scamridge is a good example of this, for the remains of at least fourteen bodies were laid in no order but with the component bones broken, scattered, and lying in the most confused manner. Half a jaw was lying on part of a thigh-bone and a piece of a skull among the bones of a foot, while other parts of what appeared to belong to the same skull were found some distance apart. Canon Greenwell, who describes this barrow with great detail, also mentions that this disarrangement was not due to any disturbance of the barrow after its erection, but, on the contrary, there were most certain indications that the bones had been originally deposited exactly as they were found. He also points out that this condition of things is obviously inconsistent with the idea that the bodies had been buried with the flesh still upon them, and goes on to say that "it appeared to Dr Thurnam that there were in these broken and scattered fragments of skulls and disconnected bones the relics of barbarous feasts, held at the time of the interment, when slaves, captives, or even wives were slain and eaten." But although this argument appeared to Canon Greenwell to have some weight, he is inclined to think that the broken condition of the bones may have been due to the pressure of the mound above them after they had been partially burnt with the fires which were lit at one end of the barrow and so arranged that the heat was drawn through the interior.
As the centuries passed the Neolithic people progressed in many directions. They improved their methods of making their weapons until they were able to produce axe-heads so perfectly ground and polished and with such a keen cutting edge that it would be impossible to make anything better. These celts like the arrow-heads were always fitted into cleft handles or shafts of wood, and it was probably at a later period that the stone hammer, pierced with a hole, made its appearance. Spinning and weaving in some extremely primitive fashion were evolved, so that the people were not entirely clothed in skins. They cultivated wheat to a small extent and kept herds of goats and horned sheep. The pottery they made was crude and almost entirely without ornament. The skeletons of this period show that although they led a life of great activity, probably as hunters, they were rather short in stature, averaging, it is thought by Dr Garson, less than 5 feet 65 inches. Their jaws were not prognathous as in negroes, and their brow ridges were not nearly so prominent as in the men of the Old Stone Age, and thus their facial expression must have been mild.
A most interesting discovery of lake-dwellings was made in 1893 by Mr James M. Mitchelson of Pickering, but although the relics brought to light are numerous, no one has yet been able to make any definite statement as to the period to which they belong. The Costa Beck, a stream flowing from the huge spring at Keld Head, on the west side of Pickering, was being cleaned out for drainage purposes at a spot a little over two miles from the town, when several pieces of rude pottery were thrown on to the bank. These excited Mr Mitchelson's interest and at another occasion his examination revealed more pottery and mixed up with the fragments were the bones of animals. Some piles forming two parallel rows about 4 feet apart were also discovered crossing the stream at right angles to its course.
The diagram given here shows the position of the piles as far as they were revealed in one of the excavations and it also shows their presumed continuation, but no reliance can be placed on anything but those actually dug out and indicated with a solid black spot. The piles were made of oak, birch and alder, with very rough pointed ends, and they measured from 6 to 10 inches in diameter. Three other rows cross the Costa in the same neighbourhood separated by a few hundred yards and as they lie at right angles to the stream which there forms a concave bend, they appear to converge upon one point. This would be what may roughly be termed an island between the Costa and a large drain where water in ancient times probably accumulated or flowed.
There can therefore be little doubt that the island was the home of prehistoric lake-dwellers who constructed their homes on rude platforms raised above the water or marshy ground by means of piles after the fashion of the numerous discoveries in Switzerland, and the present habits of the natives of many islands in the Pacific. Among the quantities of skulls and bones of animals, pottery and human skeletons, no traces of metal were brought to light and the coarse jars and broken urns were, with one exception, entirely devoid of ornamentation. The ground that was removed before the chief discoveries were made, consisted of about 8 or 10 inches of cultivated soil, below which came about 2 feet 6 inches of stiff blue clay, and then about 6 feet of peat resting on the Kimmeridge clay that formed the bottom of Lake Pickering. Most of the relics were found resting on the clay so they must have remained there for a sufficient time to have allowed these thick deposits to have formed, and it is possible that they may be associated with some of the Neolithic people who took to this mode of living when the Celtic invaders with their bronze weapons were steadily driving them northwards or reducing them to a state of slavery. A complete account of the discoveries was in 1898 read by Captain Cecil Duncombe at a meeting of the members of the Anthropological Institute and in the discussion which followed, Mr C.H. Reid gave it as his opinion that the pottery probably belonged to a period not much earlier than the Roman occupation. Against this idea we have a most interesting statement made on another occasion by Professor Boyd Dawkins concerning one of the human bones; on examining the femur illustrated here he said that it could only have belonged to an individual possessing prehensile toes, and he also pointed out that the ends of this bone show signs of having been gnawed by dogs or similar animals. Captain Duncombe, who was to some extent quoting Professor Boyd Dawkins, said that the bones were "apparently those of a very small race." The complete skeleton of a young woman was found with the exception of the skull. "Though an adult," he says, "she could not, judging from the thigh-bones, have exceeded 4 feet 6 inches in height, and the owner of the longest thigh-bone would not have exceeded 5 feet. Though the bones are those of a people of short stature they are remarkable for their very prominent ridges for the attachment of the muscles, such as are quite unknown at the present day in England. They denote a race inured to hard toil, or one leading a life of constant activity." On the breast bone of the woman were found the two ornaments illustrated. They were made from the tines of a red deer's horn.
[Footnote 1: Journal of the Anthropological Institute, New Series (1899), vol. i. p. 150.]
Another interesting discovery was the evidence of different attempts to cut some pieces of deer's horn. The shallow grooves were probably made by rubbing with a rib bone or some other sharp edge and sand and water. A small black vase unornamented but in perfect condition was dug up near the remains of the young woman. There were numerous skulls of the prehistoric ox or bos longifrons and also of the straight-horned sheep. A piece of the antlers of a great palmated deer now extinct tends to place the discoveries at an early time, but until more evidence is forthcoming the period to which these lake-dwellers belong must remain uncertain.
A list of the bones discovered includes the following:—
Human (of at least four individuals). Deer (of three species). Horse (a small variety), numerous. Ox (Bos longifrons), numerous. Sheep (straight-horned), numerous. Goat (one skull). Pig (both wild and domesticated). Wolf. Fox. Otter. Beaver (one skull). Voles (of different kinds). Birds.
The introduction of metal into Britain was due to the successive waves of Celtic Aryans who by means of their bronze weapons were able to overcome the Neolithic people. The Brythons or Britons, one of these Celtic peoples, seem to have succeeded in occupying the whole of England. They buried their dead in the round barrows which are to be found in most parts of the country but are particularly numerous on the hills immediately surrounding Pickering and on the wolds to the south of the Vale.
Some of the round barrows, as already mentioned, contain no traces of metal but in a number of those near Pickering have been found bronze Celts and spear-heads accompanied by beautifully finished weapons of stone. There can be no doubt, therefore, that the use of metal crept in slowly, and that stone, horn and bone continued to be used for many centuries after its introduction.
The Celtic people were possessed of a civilisation infinitely more advanced than that of the Neolithic or Iberian races. They were the ancestors of the "Ancient Britons" who offered such a stout resistance to the Roman legions under Julius Caesar.
Not only are there innumerable barrows or burial mounds constructed by this early race on the hills above the Vale, but on Beacon Hill, the slight eminence just to the west of Pickering Castle, at Cawthorne and also at Cropton, there are evidences of what may be their fortifications, while the plough is continually bringing to light more relics of the period. A fine collection of these have been brought together and are to be seen in Mr T. Mitchelson's private museum near Pickering Church. Two large cases contain a most remarkable series of burial urns, incense cups and food vessels all found in barrows in the neighbourhood. The urns are generally ornamented with bands of diagonal or crossed markings and other designs as well as with the impressions of twisted pieces of hide or grasses. The bases are usually very small for the size of the urns, after the fashion of those in Canon Greenwell's examples in the British Museum. In that collection may be seen several cinerary urns, incense cups and food vessels from Hutton Buscel, Ganton, Slingsby, Egton and other places in the vicinity of Pickering. They belong to the same period as those in Mr Mitchelson's museum and are, on account of the simplicity and comparative rarity of the bronze implements that have been discovered with them, considered to belong to the earliest bronze period, that is, to the time of the first Celtic invasions. Many of the objects in Mr Mitchelson's museum are not labelled with the place of their origin, the manuscript catalogue made some years ago having been lost; but with a few exceptions the entire collection comes from barrows situated in the neighbourhood, having been brought together by Mr Thomas Kendall more than fifty years ago.
A complete skeleton in a stone cist is now lying in a glass case in the museum. It was discovered accidentally by a farmer between Appleton-le-Moor and Spaunton. He had decided to remove a huge stone that had been an obstacle when ploughing, and in doing so found that he had removed the top stone of a cist belonging to the early Bronze Age. The man has a round or brachycephalic skull with the prominent brow-ridges and powerful jaws of the Celtic people, and his right arm was arranged so that the hand was beneath the skull. By his left hand was the food vessel that is now placed on the left side of the skull, and at his feet are a number of small bronze studs or rivets.
These Bronze Age men seem to have had a very general belief in the spirit world, for the dead warrior was buried with his weapons as well as food, so that he might be sustained while he hunted in the other world with the spirit of his favourite axe or spear. The museum contains examples of socketed bronze celts and spear heads, as well as an infinite variety of arrowheads, flint knives, stone hammers and celts, and also coloured beads and other ornaments.
Thus we find that in these early days mankind teemed in this part of Yorkshire. From all points around the shallow lake the smoke of fires ascended into the sky, patches of cultivation appeared among the trees, and villages, consisting of collections of primitive wooden huts, probably surrounded by a stockade, would have been discernible.
A closer examination of one of these early British villages would have discovered the people clothed in woven materials, for an example of cloth of the period was discovered by Canon Greenwell in this locality and is now to be seen in the British Museum. The grinding of corn in the stone querns, so frequently found near Pickering, would have been in progress; fair-haired children with blue eyes would be helping the older folk in preparing food, dressing skins, making bows and arrows, and the innumerable employments that the advancing civilisation demanded.
It is at this period that we reach the confines of history, records of an extremely unreliable character it is true, but strangely enough there are references by very early writers to the founding of Pickering. That the place should be mentioned at all in these fabulous writings is an interesting fact and gives Pickering an importance in those distant centuries which is surprising. John Stow in his "Summarie of Englyshe Chronicles," published in 1565, gives the following fanciful story of the father of the founder of Pickering.
"Morindus, the bastard son of Danius, began to reigne in Britain: he (as our Chronicles saye) fought with a kynge, who came out of Germanye, and arrived here, and slew hym with all his power. Moreover (as they write) of the Irishe seas in his tyme, came foorthe a wonderfull monster: whiche destroyed muche people. Wherof the king hearyng would of his valiaunt courage, needes fyght with it: by whō he was cleane devoured, whē he had reigned viii. yeres."
[Sidenote: B.C. 311]
His two youngest sons were Vigenius and Peredurus, and of them Stow writes: —
"Vigenius and Peredurus, after the takyng of their brother [Elidurus, the former King] reigned together, vii. yeres. Vigenius thā died, and Peredurus reygned after alone, ii. yeares. He buylded the towne of Pyckeryng after the opinion of divers writers."
[Sidenote: B.C. 270]
Raphael Holinshed, who was a contemporary of Stow and used many of his sources of information, gives the following account of the same period:—
[Footnote 1: Holinshed, Raphael; "Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland," p. 461.]
"Vigenius and Peredurus, the yoongest sonnes of Morindus, and brethren to Elidurus, began to reigne jointlie as kings of Britaine, in the year of the world 3701, after the building of Rome 485.... These two brethren in the English chronicles are named Higanius and Petitur, who (as Gal. Mon. [Geoffrey of Monmouth] testifieth) divided the realme betwixt them, so that all the land from Humber westward fell to Vigenius or Higanius, the other part beyond Humber northward Peredure held. But other affirme, that Peredurus onelie reigned, and held his brother Elidurus in prison by his owne consent, for somuch as he was not willing to governe.
[Sidenote: Caxton.] [Sidenote: Eth. Bur.]
"But Gal. Mon. saith, that Vigenius died after he had reigned 7 yeares, and then Peredurus seized all the land into his owne rule, and governed it with such sobrietie and wisedome, that he was praised above all his brethren, so that Elidurus was quite forgotten of the Britains. But others write that he was a verie tyrant, and used himselfe verie cruellie towards the lords of his land, whereupon they rebelled and slue him. But whether by violent hand, or by naturall sicknesse, he finallie departed this life, after the consent of most writers, when he had reigned eight yeares, leaving no issue behind him to succeed in the governance of the Kingdome. He builded the towne of Pikering, where his bodie was buried."
Whatever memorial was raised to this legendary king of the Brigantes, has totally disappeared. It may have been a mighty barrow surrounded with great stones and containing the golden ornaments worn by Peredurus, but if it existed outside the imaginations of the Chroniclers it would probably have been plundered and obliterated during the Roman occupation or by marauding Angles or Danes.
Mr Bateman tells us that in 1853, two Celtic coins in billon or mixed metal of the peculiar rough type apparently characteristic of and confined to the coinage of the Brigantes, were found by quarrymen engaged in baring the rock near Pickering.
There may have been two British fortresses at Pickering at this time, one on the site of the present castle and one the hill on the opposite side of the Pickering Beck, where, as already mentioned, the circular ditches and mounds indicate the existence of some primitive stockaded stronghold.
At Cawthorne, a few miles to the north, there are British enclosures adjoining the Roman camps; and at Cropton, on the west side of the village and in a most commanding position, a circular hill-top shows palpable evidences of having been fortified.
Of the megalithic remains or "Bride Stones," as they are generally termed in Yorkshire, it is difficult to say anything with certainty. Professor Windle, in his list of those existing in the county, mentions among others—
1. "The Bride Stones" near Grosmont (Circle).
2. "The Bride Stones," Sleights Moor (Circle).
3. Simon Houe, near Goathland Station.
4. "The Standing Stones" (three upright stones), 1-3/4 miles S.-W. of Robin Hood's Bay, on Fylingdales Moor.
[Footnote 1: Windle, Bertram, C.A., "Remains of the Pre-historic Age in England," pp. 203-4.]
How the Roman Occupation of Britain affected the Forest and Vale of Pickering
B.C. 55 to A.D. 418
The landings of Julius Caesar, in 55 and 54 B.C., and the conflicts between his legions and the southern tribes of Britain, were little more, in the results obtained, than a reconnaissance in force, and Yorkshire did not feel the effect of the Roman invasion until nearly a century after the first historic landing.
The real invasion of Britain began in A.D. 43, when the Emperor Claudius sent Aulus Plautius across the Channel with four legions; and after seven years of fighting the Romans, taking advantage of the inter-tribal feuds of the Britons, had reduced the southern half of England to submission.
Plautius was succeeded by Ostorius Scapula in A.D. 50, and from Tacitus we learn that he "found affairs in a troubled state, the enemy making irruptions into the territories of our allies, with so much the more insolence as they supposed that a new general, with an army unknown to him, and now that the winter had set in, would not dare to make head against them." Scapula, however, vigorously proceeded with the work of subjugation, and having overcome the Iceni of East Anglia and the Fen Country, he was forcing his way westwards into Wales when he heard of trouble brewing in the North. "He had approached near the sea which washes the coast of Ireland," says Tacitus, "when commotions, begun amongst the Brigantes, obliged the general to return thither." The Brigantes were the powerful and extremely fierce tribe occupying Yorkshire, Durham, Cumberland, and Westmorland, and among them were the people whose remains are so much in evidence near Pickering. They had probably been under tribute to the Romans, and their struggle against the invaders in this instance does not appear to have been well organised, for we are told that when the Romans arrived in their country, they "soon returned to their homes, a few who raised the revolt having been slain, and the rest pardoned." We also know that in A.D. 71 Petilius Cerealis attacked the Brigantes and subdued a great part of their country; and as the Romans gradually brought the tribe completely under their control, they established the camps and constructed the roads of which we find so many evidences to-day. The inhabitants of the hills surrounding the Vale of Pickering were overawed by a great military station at Cawthorne on a road running north and south from that spot. It may have been the Delgovicia mentioned in the first Antonine Iter., and in that case Malton would have been Derventione, and Whitby, or some spot in Dunsley Bay, would have been Praetorio, but at the present time there is not sufficient data for fixing these names with any certainty. It has also been supposed by General Roy that Cawthorne was occupied by the famous 9th legion after they had left Scotland, owing to the similarity of construction between the most westerly camp at Cawthorne and the one at Dealgin Ross in Strathern, where the 9th legion were supposed to have had their narrow escape from defeat by the Caledonians during Agricola's sixth campaign. But this also is somewhat a matter of speculation.
[Footnote 1: Tacitus, the Oxford Translation, revised 1854, vol. 1, book xii. pp. 288-90.]
[Footnote 2: Roy, Major Gen. William: "The Military Antiquities of the Romans in Britain," 1793, Plate xi.]
Coming to the firmer ground of the actual remains of the Roman roads and camps, we find that traces of a well-constructed road, locally known as Wade's Causeway, have been discovered at various points on a line drawn from Malton to Cawthorne and Whitby. Some of these sections of the road have disappeared since Francis Drake described them in 1736, and at the present time the work of destruction continues at intervals when a farmer, converting a few more acres of heather into potatoes, has the ill-luck to strike the roadway.
[Footnote 2: Drake, Francis: "Eboracum," p. 36.]
In the month of January this year (1905), I examined a piece of ground newly taken under cultivation at Stape. It was about half a mile north of the little inn and just to the west of Mauley Cross. The stones were all thrown out of their original positions and a pile of them had been taken outside the turf wall for road-mending and to finish the walls against the gate posts, but the broad track of the roadway, composed of large odd-shaped stones, averaging about a foot in width, was still strikingly in evidence—a mottled band passing straight through the chocolate-coloured soil.
All who have described the road state that on each side of the causeway where it remains undisturbed there is a line of stones placed on their edges in order to keep the stones in place, but in this instance the stones were too much disturbed to observe their original formation. Among the furrows I discovered quantities of flint-flakes, indicating the manufacture of stone implements on this site, no flints being naturally found in the neighbourhood.
The road went through the most perfectly constructed of the three square camps at Cawthorne from west to east, cutting through one corner of the adjacent oval camp. It then seems to have passed down the slack a little to the north-east, and crossing the stream below (probably in Roman times by a wooden bridge) it takes a fairly straight course for the little hamlet of Stape just mentioned. The slope from the camps is extremely steep, and in 1817, when Dr Young wrote his "History of Whitby," he tells us that there were no traces of the road at that point. Going back to 1736, however, we find that Drake, in his "History of York" published in that year, says, "At the foot of the hill began the road or causeway, very plain"; he also tells us that he first heard of the road, with the camp upon it, from Mr Thomas Robinson of Pickering—"a gentleman well versed in this kind of learning." Drake, enthusiastically describing his examination of the road, says, "I had not gone a hundred paces on it, but I met with a mile stone of the grit kind, a sort not known in this country. It was placed in the midst of the causeway, but so miserably worn, either by sheep or cattle rubbing against it, or the weather, that I missed of the inscription, which, I own, I ran with great eagerness to find. The causeway is just twelve foot broad, paved with a flint pebble [probably very hard limestone], some of them very large, and in many places it is as firm as it was the first day, a thing the more strange in that not only the distance of time may be considered, but the total neglect of repairs and the boggy rotten moors it goes over. In some places the agger is above three foot raised from the surface. The country people curse it often for being almost wholly hid in the ling, it frequently overturns their carts laden with turf as they happen to drive across it. It was a great pleasure to me to trace this wonderful road, especially when I soon found out that it pointed to the bay aforesaid. I lost it sometimes by the interposition of valleys, rivulets, or the exceeding great quantity of ling growing on these moors. I had then nothing to do but observe the line, and riding crossways, my horse's feet, through the ling, informed me when I was upon it. In short, I traced it several miles, and could have been pleased to have gone on with it to the seaside, but my time would not allow me. However, I prevailed upon Mr Robinson to send his servant, and a very intelligent person of Pickering along with him, and they not only made it fairly out to Dunsley, but brought me a sketch of the country it went through with them. From which I have pricked it out in the map, as the reader will find at the end of this account."
I have examined Drake's map but find that he has simply ruled two perfectly straight parallel lines between Cawthorne and Dunsley, so that except for the fact that Mr Robinson's servant and the intelligent Pickeronian found that the road did go to Dunsley we have no information as to its exact position. Young, however, describes its course past Stape and Mauley Cross over Wheeldale and Grain Becks to July or Julian Park. In the foundation of a wall round an enclosure at that point he mentions the discovery of an inscribed Roman stone of which a somewhat crude woodcut is given in his "History of Whitby." The inscription appears to be ILVIVILVX, and Young read it as LE. VI. VI. L. VEX, or in full LEGIONIS SEXTAE VICTRICIS QUINQUAGINTA VEXILLARII, meaning, "Fifty vexillary soldiers of the sixth legion, the Victorious." This rendering of the abbreviations may be inaccurate, and some of the letters before and after those visible when the stone was discovered may have been obliterated, but Dr Young thought that the inscription was probably complete. On Lease Rigg beyond July Park the road cuts through another Roman camp of similar dimensions to the western one at Cawthorne. In the map reproduced here a much clearer idea of the course of the road can be had than by any description. I have marked the position of the road to the south of Cawthorne as passing through Barugh, where Drake discovered it in 1736. "From the camp" (Cawthorne), he writes, "the road disappears towards York, the agger being either sunk or removed by the country people for their buildings. But taking the line, as exactly as I could, for the city, I went down the hill to Thornton-Risebrow, and had some information from a clergyman of a kind of a camp at a village called vulgarly BARF; but corruptly, no doubt, from BURGH. Going to this place, I was agreeably surprised to fall upon my long lost road again; and here plainly appeared also a small intrenchment on it; from whence, as I have elsewhere hinted, the Saxon name Burgh might come. The road is discernible enough, in places, to Newsam-Bridge over the river Rye; not far from which is a mile-stone of grit yet standing. On the other side of the river the Stratum, or part of it, appears very plain, being composed of large blue pebble, some of a tun weight; and directs us to a village called Aimanderby. Barton on the Street, and Appleton on the Street, lye a little on the side of the road." Drake then proceeds to speculate as to the likelihood of the road still making a bee-line for York, or whether it diverged towards Malton, then no doubt a Roman station; but as his ideas are unimportant in comparison with his discoveries, we will leave him to return to the camps at Cawthorne. The hill they occupy forms part of a bold escarpment running east and west between Newton upon Rawcliff and Cropton, having somewhat the appearance of an inland coast-line. On the north side of the camps the hill is precipitous, and there can be little doubt that the position must, in Roman times, have been one of the strongest in the neighbourhood. This is not so apparent to-day as it would be owing to the dense growth of larch and fir planted by Mr James Mitchelson's father about forty years ago. There are, however, peeps among the trees which reveal a view of the great purple undulations of the heathery plateau to the north, and the square camp marked A on the plan is entirely free from trees although completely shut in by the surrounding plantation. In the summer it is an exceedingly difficult matter to follow the ditches and mounds forming the outline of the camps, for besides the closely planted trees the bracken grows waist high. The vallum surrounding each enclosure is still of formidable height, and in camp A is double with a double fosse of considerable depth. Camps C and D are both rectangular, but C, the largest of the four, is stronger and more regular in shape than D, and it may have been that D was the camp of the auxiliaries attached to the legion or part of a legion quartered there. The five outer gates of C and D are protected by overlapping earthworks, the opening being diagonal to the face of the camp, but the opening between these two enclosures is undefended. Camp B may have been for cattle or it may have been another camp of auxiliaries, for unlike the other three it is oval and might even have been a British encampment used by the Romans when they selected this commanding site as their headquarters for the district.
To fix the origin of a camp by its formation is very uncertain work and no reliance can be placed on statements based on such evidence; but Camp A bears the stamp of Roman work unmistakably, and the fact that the Roman road cuts right through its east and west gates seems a sufficiently conclusive proof. It is also an interesting fact that between forty and fifty years ago Mr T. Kendall of Pickering discovered the remains of a chariot in a barrow on the west side of Camp A. Fragments of a wooden pole 11 feet long, and of four spokes, could be traced as well as the complete iron tyres of both wheels, and portions of a hub. These remains, together with small pieces of bronze harness fittings, are now carefully arranged in a glass case in Mr. Mitchelson's museum at Pickering.
There is a mill just to the south of Pickering known as Vivers Mill, and near Cawthorne there is a farm where Roman foundations have been discovered, known as Bibo House. Both these names have a curiously Roman flavour, but as to their origin I can say nothing.
The three or four plans of these camps that have been published are all inaccurate; the first, in Drake's "Eboracum," being the greatest offender. General Roy has shown camps B and C in the wrong positions in regard to A, and even Dr. Young, who himself notices these mistakes, is obliged to point out that the woodcut that is jammed sideways on one of his pages is not quite correct in regard to camp C (marked A on his plan), although otherwise it is fairly accurate.
A small square camp is just visible in a field to the east of Cawthorne; there is an oval one on Levisham Moor, and others square and oval dotted over the moors in different directions, but they are of uncertain origin. There can be little doubt that subsidiary camps and entrenchments would have been established by the Romans in a country where the inhabitants were as fierce and warlike as these Brigantes, but whether the dominant power utilised British fortresses or whether they always built square camps is a matter on which it is impossible to dogmatise.
A number of Roman articles were dug up when the cutting for the railway to Sinnington was being made, and the discoveries at this point are particularly interesting as the site is in an almost direct line between Cawthorne and Barugh.
We are possessed, however, of sufficient evidence to gain a considerable idea of Pickering during the four hundred years of the Roman occupation. We have seen that the invaders constructed a great road on their usual plan, going as straight as the nature of the country allowed from their station at Malton to the sea near or at Whitby; that on this road they built large camps where some hundreds, possibly thousands of troops were permanently stationed, although the icy-cold blasts from the north-east may have induced them to occupy more protected spots in winter. Roman chariots, squads of foot soldiers, and mounted men would have been a common sight on the road, and to the sullen natives the bronze eagle would gradually have become as familiar as their own totem-posts. Gradually we know that the British chiefs and their sons and daughters became demoralised by the sensual pleasures of the new civilisation and thus the invaders secured themselves in their new possessions in a far more efficacious manner than by force of arms.
The Britons remained under the yoke of Rome until A.D. 418, when the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle tells us that "This year the Romans collected all the hoards of gold that were in Britain; and some they hid in the earth, so that no man afterwards might find them, and some they carried away with them into Gaul," and in A.D. 435 we find the record that "This year the Goths sacked the city of Rome and never since have the Romans reigned in Britain." The Brigantes were thus once more free to work out their own destiny, but the decay of their military prowess which had taken place during the Roman occupation made them an easy prey to the daring Saxon pirates who, even before the Romans finally left England, are believed to have established themselves in scattered bodies on some parts of the coast. The incursions of these warlike peoples belong to the Saxon era described in the next chapter.
The Forest and Vale in Saxon Times
A.D. 418 to 1066
There seems little doubt that the British remained a barbarous people throughout the four centuries of their contact with Roman influences, for had they progressed in this period they would have understood in some measure the great system by which the Imperial power had held the island with a few legions and a small class of residential officials. Having failed to absorb the new military methods, when left to themselves, there was no unifying idea among the Britons, and they seem to have merely reverted to some form of their old tribal organisation. The British cities constituted themselves into a group of independent states generally at war with one another, but sometimes united under the pressure of some external danger. Under such circumstances they would select some chieftain whose period of ascendency could be measured only by the continuance of the danger.
From Bede's writings we find that the Scots from the west and the Picts from the north continually harassed the Britons despite occasional help from Rome, and despite the wall they built across the north of England. In these straits the British invited help from the Angles and Saxons, who soon engaged the northern tribesmen and defeated them. The feebleness of the Britons having become well known among the continental peoples, the Angles, Saxons and Jutes began to steadily swarm across the North Sea in powerful, armed bands. Having for a time assisted the Britons they began to seek excuses for quarrels, and gradually the Britons with brief periods of success were beaten and dispossessed of their lands until they were driven into the western parts of the island. The Angles occupied most of northern England, including the kingdom of Northumbria, of which Yorkshire formed a large part. These fierce Anglo-Saxon people, with an intermixing of Danish blood, a few centuries later were the ancestors of a great part of the present population of the county. Sidonius Apollinaris, a Bishop of Gaul, who wrote in the fifth century, says, "We have not a more cruel and more dangerous enemy than the Saxons: they overcome all who have the courage to oppose them; they surprise all who are so imprudent as not to be prepared for their attack. When they pursue they infallibly overtake; when they are pursued their escape is certain. They despise danger; they are inured to shipwreck; they are eager to purchase booty with the peril of their lives. Tempests, which to others are so dreadful, to them are subjects of joy; the storm is their protection when they are pressed by the enemy, and a cover for their operations when they meditate an attack. Before they quit their own shores, they devote to the altars of their gods the tenth part of the principal captives; and when they are on the point of returning, the lots are cast with an affectation of equity, and the impious vow is fulfilled."
Gradually these invaders settled down in Britain, which soon ceased to be called Britain, and assumed the name Angle-land or England. In A.D. 547 Ida founded the kingdom of Northumbria, one of the divisions forming the Saxon Heptarchy, and among the villages and families that owed allegiance to him were those of the neighbourhood of Pickering. The first fortifications by the Anglo-Saxons were known as buhrs or burgs. Some of them were no doubt Roman or British camps adapted to their own needs, but generally these earth works were required as the fortified home of some lord and his household, and there can be little doubt that in most instances new entrenchments were made, large enough to afford a refuge for the tenants as well as their flocks and herds.
Pickering itself must have been an Anglo-Saxon village of some importance, and the artificial mound on which the keep of the castle now stands would probably have been raised during this period if it had not been constructed at a much earlier date. It would have palisades defending the top of the mound, and similar defences inside the entrenchments that formed the basecourt. These may have occupied the position of the present dry moat that defends the castle on two of its three sides. If Pickering had been founded by the Anglo-Saxons we should have expected a name ending with "ton," "ham," "thorpe," or "borough," but its remarkable position at the mouth of Newton Dale may have led them to choose a name which may possibly mean an opening by the "ings" or wet lands. It is, however, impossible at the present time to discover the correct derivation of the name. It probably has nothing whatever to do with the superficial "pike" and "ring," and the suggestion that it means "The Maiden's Ring" from the Scandinavian "pika," a maiden, and "hringr," a circle or ring, may be equally incorrect. The settlements in the neighbourhood must have occupied the margin of the marshes in close proximity to one another, and most of them from the suffix "ton" would appear to have been the "tuns" or fortified villages named after the family who founded them. Thus we find between Pickering and Scarborough at the present time a string of eleven villages bearing the names Thornton, Wilton, Allerston, Ebberston, Snainton, Brompton, Ruston, Hutton (Buscel of Norman origin), Sawdon, Ayton and Irton. In the west and south there are Middleton, Cropton, Wrelton, Sinnington, Appleton, Nawton, Salton, Marton, Edston or Edstone, Habton, (Kirby) Misperton, Ryton, Rillington, and many others. Other Anglo-Saxon settlements indicating someone's ham or home would appear to have been made at Levisham, Yedingham and Lastingham. Riseborough seems to suggest the existence of some Anglo-Saxon fortress on that very suitable elevation in the Vale of Pickering. Barugh, a little to the south, can scarcely be anything else than a corruption of "buhr" or "burg," for the Anglian invaders, if they found the small Roman camp that appears to have been established on that slight eminence in the vale would have probably found it a most convenient site for one of their own fortifications. Names ending with "thorpe," such as Kingthorpe, near Pickering, also indicate an Anglo-Saxon origin. Traces of the "by" or "byr," a single dwelling or single farm of the Danes, are to be found thickly dotted over this part of England, but in the immediate neighbourhood of Pickering there are only Blansby, Dalby, Farmanby, Aislaby, Roxby, and Normanby. To the east near Scarborough there are Osgodby, Killerby, Willerby, Flotmanby, and Hunmanby, so that it would appear that the strong community of Anglo-Saxon villages along the margin of the vale kept the Danish settlers at a distance.
Goathland, which was often spelt Gothland, has a most suggestive sound, and the family names of Scoby and Scoresby seem to be of Danish origin. The "gate" of the streets of Pickering is a modification of the Danish "gade," meaning a "way," for the town was never walled. The influence of the Danes on the speech of this part of Yorkshire seems to me apparent in the slight sing-song modulation so similar to that of the present day people of Denmark.
In A.D. 597 Augustine commenced his missionary work among the Saxons, and King Ethelbert of Kent was baptised on June the 2nd of that year. Twenty-seven years later Edwin, the powerful king of Northumbria, married Ethelburga, daughter of Ethelbert. When she accompanied her husband to his northern kingdom she took with her Paulinus, who was ordained bishop of the Northumbrians. "King Aldwin, therefore," Bede tells us, "together with all the nobles of his nation, and very many of the common people, received the faith and washing of sacred regeneration, in the eleventh year of his reign, which is the year of the Lord's incarnation, 627, and about the year 180 from the coming of the Angles into Britain. Moreover, he was baptised at York, on the holy day of Easter, the day before the Ides of April, in the church of the holy apostle Peter, which he himself built of wood in that place with expeditious labour, while he was being catechised and prepared in order to receive baptism." The Northumbrians from this time forward were at least a nominally Christian people, and the seventh century certainly witnessed the destruction of many of the idols and their shrines that had hitherto formed the centre for the religious rites of the Anglo-Saxons. Woden or Odin, Thor and the other deities did not lose their adherents in a day, and Bede records the relapses into idolatry of Northumbria as well as the other parts of England. There can be no doubt that fairies and elves entered largely into the mythology of the Anglo-Saxons, and the firmness of the beliefs in beings of that nature can be easily understood when we realise that it required no fewer than twelve centuries of Christianity to finally destroy them among the people of Yorkshire. In Chapter XI. we see something of the form the beliefs and superstitions had assumed at the time of their disappearance.
[Footnote 1: Bede's "Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation," translated by Gidley, Rev. L., 1870, p. 152.]
In the seventh century most of the churches erected in Yorkshire were probably of wood, but the example of King Edwin at York, who quickly replaced the timber structure with a larger one of stone, must soon have made itself felt in the country. Nothing, however, in the form of buildings or inscribed stones for which we have any evidence for placing at such an early date remains in the neighbourhood of Pickering, although there are numerous crosses and traces of the masonry that may be termed Saxon or Pre-Conquest.
The founding of a monastery at Lastingham is described by Bede, and with the particulars he gives we can place the date between the years 653 and 655. Bishop Cedd was requested by King Oidilward, who held rule in the parts of Deira, "to accept some possession of land of him to build a monastery to which the king himself [AEthelwald] also might frequently come to pray to the Lord, and to hear the Word, and in which he might be buried when he died." Further on we are told that Cedd "assenting to the king's wishes, chose for himself a place to build a monastery among lofty and remote mountains, in which there appeared to have been more lurking places of robbers and dens of wild beasts than habitations of men." This account is of extreme interest, being the only contemporary description of this part of Yorkshire known to us. "Moreover," says Bede, "the man of God, studying first by prayers and fastings to purge the place he had received for a monastery from its former filth of crimes, and so to lay in it the foundations of the monastery, requested of the king that he would give him during the whole ensuing time of Lent leave and licence to abide there for the sake of prayer; on all which days, with the exception of Sunday, protracting his fast to evening according to custom, he did not even then take anything except a very little bread and one hen's egg, with a little milk and water. For he said this was the custom of those of whom he had learnt the rule of regular discipline, first to consecrate to the Lord by prayers and fastings the places newly received for building a monastery or a church. And when ten days of the quadragesimal fast were yet remaining, there came one to summon him to the king. But he, in order that the religious work might not be intermitted on account of the king's affairs, desired his presbyter Cynibill, who was also his brother, to complete the pious undertaking. The latter willingly assented; and the duty of fasting and prayer having been fulfilled, he built there a monastery which is now called Laestingaeu [Lastingham], and instituted rules there, according to the customs of the monks of Lindisfarne, where he had been educated. And when for many years he [Cedd] had administered the episcopate in the aforesaid province, and also had taken charge of this monastery, over which he set superiors, it happened that coming to this same monastery at a time of mortality, he was attacked by bodily infirmity and died. At first, indeed, he was buried outside, but in process of time a church was built of stone in the same monastery, in honour of the blessed mother of God, and in that church his body was laid on the right side of the altar." Cedd's death took place in 664, and Ceadda or Chad, one of his brothers, succeeded him as he had desired.
Nothing remains of the buildings of this early monastery, and what happened to them, and what caused their disappearance, is purely a matter of conjecture. We can only surmise that they were destroyed during the Danish invasions of the ninth century.
At Kirkdale church, which is situated close to the cave already described, there was discovered about the year 1771 a sundial bearing the longest known inscription of the Anglo-Saxon period. The discoverer was the Rev. William Dade, rector of Barmston, in the East Riding, and a letter of great length, on the stone, from the pen of Mr J. C. Brooke, F.S.A. of the Herald's College, was read at the Society of Antiquaries in 1777.
The sundial, without any gnomon, occupies the central portion of the stone, which is about 7 feet in length, and the inscription is closely packed in the spaces on either side.