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Episode 26: Yorkshire



Where is Yorkshire?

In our twenty-sixth episode we mentioned lots of interesting places and things in Yorkshire, so here are some pictures and links to information if you're curious to find out more!


York’s City Walls


York’s medieval city walls, a scheduled ancient monument encircling the historic City of York, comprise 3.4 kilometres (2 miles) of surviving masonry.


York still has most of the medieval walls that surrounded the city 700 years ago. The tops of these walls were partly rebuilt about 150 years ago so the public could walk along most of them – and feel safer by having a tall parapet on one side of them.


Most think these are the best city walls in Britain, some say they give us the best city walk in Britain.


In York these are usually just called “The Walls.” Locals also sometimes refer to “The Bar Walls.”

The walls you see today were mainly built in the 13th century of magnesian limestone and, uniquely in England, were set on earthen ramparts. York’s Roman Walls are mainly hidden in these ramparts.


The Great Heathen Army


If there was one thing the primarily Saxon inhabitants of Great Britain were accustomed to in the 8th century, it was raids on their shores by the men of the north, the so-called Vikings.


Since they first landed in Norfolk in 787 AD, the daring Norse raiders had returned to British soils in search of plunder almost every summer. Typically, areas of wealth such as monasteries and priories were targeted, leading to Christian contemporary sources labelling these invaders ‘Heathens.’


For the early part of the 9th century, Viking raids were uncoordinated and would usually end in the Danes being paid to return to their homeland – a tribute that would become known as Danegeld.


These raids were prevalent throughout the 800s, with sources like the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ and the ‘Annals of St. Bertin’ reporting widespread pillaging, as well as notable skirmishes that included a battle with King Aethelwulf in Carhampton. Every time, the Vikings would make land, raid and pillage, and would then depart with their coffers full.

However in 865, usual custom was disrupted. A sizeable Viking force – estimated to be around some 3,000 men – landed on the Isle of Thanet in Kent with little intention of accepting a payment of Danegeld. Instead, these Vikings, who appeared to have organised themselves into a fleet of many ships, struck north from Thanet, cutting a swathe across East Anglia which was only halted when the local populace brokered a tentative alliance with the invaders that involved supplying them with horses.


Their intention: to seize England itself. It seemed that after years of lucrative raids, the Vikings had decided greater wealth could be attained by simply taking as much of the land as they could by force.

In contrast, the Norse Sagas record a far more poetic reason for the raid, and it revolved around the Norsemen’s most famous hero: a certain Ragnar Lothbrok.


The 13th-century Icelandic sagas that attempt to detail much of Ragnar’s supposed life claim that the reason for the Viking invasion of Great Britain was in revenge for Ragnar’s death at the hands of King Ælla. Of course, modern historians place significant question marks over Ragnar’s interactions with the Northumbrian King Ælla.


It is much more likely that Ragnar was the man who raided Paris and eventually settled in Ireland and thus raided England’s west coast, as opposed to the east coast that the Great Heathen Army harried.

The sagas proclaim that it was Ragnar’s sons who led the vast Viking force that invaded England. Indeed, the feared chieftain Ivar the Boneless’ remains are said to be located in a mass grave near Repton, Derbyshire.


However, whether these powerful Norse leaders – that also included Halfdan Ragnarsson, Ubba and Bjorn Ironside – were in England to avenge Ragnar’s death remains an enormously contentious issue.


York


York is one of England’s finest and most beautiful historic cities.


The Romans knew it as Eboracum. To the Saxons it was Eoforwick. The Vikings, who came as invaders but stayed on in settlements, called it Jorvik. York’s more recent history has also characterised the city. There’s the iconic York Minster and architecture from medieval times, its magnificent Georgian town houses and its Victorian railway station.


Within its ancient, encircling walls, York’s medieval streets and buildings are beautifully preserved in the historic heart of the city.


The Shambles is a must-visit, as one of the most recognised historic streets in England, often referred to as the best-preserved medieval street in Europe.


The Harrying of the North


The Battle of Hastings is the most famous event of the Norman Conquest, but it was only the opening engagement in the invaders' consolidation of power in England.


For several years afterwards, the country was riven by internal conflict as the Normans fought to extend their rule, climaxing in a notorious campaign known today as the ‘Harrying of the North.’

The Harrying, which took place over the winter of 1069–70, saw William’s knights lay waste to Yorkshire and neighbouring shires. Entire villages were razed and their inhabitants killed, livestock slaughtered and stores of food destroyed.


This scorched-earth operation is one of the defining episodes of the Conquest, not just from a military-political perspective but also in terms of how it has shaped modern perceptions of the Normans as a tyrannical and merciless warrior class.


Fountains Abbey


The ruins at Fountains Abbey are the largest monastic ruins in England.


The abbey was founded in 1132 by 13 Benedictine monks from St Mary’s in York. They'd grown tired of the extravagant and rowdy way that the monks lived in York and so they escaped, seeking to live a devout and simple lifestyle elsewhere.


By the time three years had passed the monks had become settled into their new way of life and had been admitted to the austere Cistercian Order. With that came an important development – the introduction of the Cistercian system of lay brothers.


The lay brothers (what we would now call labourers) relieved the monks from routine jobs, giving them more time to dedicate to God rather than farming the land to get by. It was because of the help of the lay brothers that Fountains became wealthy through wool production, lead mining, cattle rearing, horse breeding and stone quarrying.


Bad harvests hit the monks hard and combined with raids from the Scots throughout the 14th century, they experienced economic collapse. This was worsened by the Black Death which struck the country in 1348.


Despite its financial problems, the abbey remained important, although the abbey was abruptly closed in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries ordered by Henry VIII.


Whitby Abbey


The ruins of Whitby Abbey are among the most celebrated sights of North Yorkshire.


The first monastery here, founded in about 657, became one of the most important religious centres in the Anglo-Saxon world. In 664 it was the setting for the Synod of Whitby, a landmark in the history of the Church in England.


The headland is now dominated by the shell of the 13th-century church of the Benedictine abbey founded after the Norman Conquest.


In the 13th century the monastery church was rebuilt in the Gothic style. This was a massive undertaking, including major landscaping of the whole site, though there is no documentary evidence for it.


Work appears to have been resumed on the nave in the 14th century, but it was not finished until the 15th century. The only documentary evidence is a grant of permission for a monk of Whitby to embark on a fundraising campaign in 1338, recorded in the Whitby Cartulary (a compilation of the charters by which the monastery had been given property and legal privileges).


The remains of the nave have been loosely dated on the basis of architectural style.


There were doubtless extensive monastic buildings south of the abbey church, but they were almost completely demolished after the abbey’s suppression in 1539.


Mount Grace Priory


Mount Grace Priory is the best-preserved of the nine successful Carthusian monasteries founded in medieval England.


Founded in 1398 by Thomas de Holland, Duke of Surrey and nephew of Richard II, it was an expression of the fashion for piety and strict living of the time.


Unlike other monks, Carthusians lived as near-hermits, spending most of the time alone in their individual cells.


Mount Grace was one of the last monasteries in Yorkshire to be suppressed, in December 1539.


In the 17th century the ruins of its guest house were remodelled as a mansion, which was extended and restored at the beginning of the 20th century in Arts and Crafts style.


Rievaulx Abbey


Rievaulx Abbey, founded in 1132, was the first Cistercian abbey to be established in the north of England.


It quickly became one of the most powerful and spiritually renowned centres of monasticism in Britain, housing a 650-strong community at its peak in the 1160s under its most famous abbot, Aelred.


The monastery was suppressed in 1538, but the spectacular abbey ruins became a popular subject for Romantic artists in the 18th and 19th centuries.


Bolton Abbey and Priory


In about 1120 a group of black-robed Augustinian canons and their Prior set up a small religious community in the nearby village of Embsay, two miles from Skipton. Some thirty five years later, in 1154 or 1155, they decided to move and make a fresh start in the more accessible and sheltered pastures by the village of Bolton.


The Augustinian canons soon became accepted by the villagers and the people of the surrounding area. They not only lived together like monks but were also ordained priests, and so were very much involved in village life.


Over the centuries the Priory grew and prospered, despite occasional setbacks caused by raiding Scots, severe winters, agricultural disasters and the Black Death from to 1348 to 1350.


Henry VIII’s desire for a divorce led to a political rift with the Papacy; the influx of New World gold and silver into Spanish and Portuguese coffers caused a global financial inflation that reduced the value of the deposits in England’s own Treasury; these two factors, plus the revolt against the Catholic Church led by Martin Luther on the Continent, led to Henry VIII’s 1539 Dissolution of the Monasteries.


This could have been the end of the story for Bolton Priory. Like most other English monasteries, it could have become one more of the many picturesque ruins that adorn our countryside.


However, what saved the Priory was its status as an Augustinian institution. Because its canons were not merely monks but also priests, with pastoral responsibilities in the surrounding community, and because it was the only church in the area, the Priory was allowed to keep half of the church intact as the parish church for Bolton village.


Ribblehead Viaduct


Ribblehead viaduct is just over the border from Cumbria into North Yorkshire and is undoubtedly the most impressive structure on the Settle-Carlisle Railway.


Hundreds of railway builders (“navvies”) lost their lives building the line, from a combination of accidents, fights, and smallpox outbreaks.


In particular, building the Ribblehead (then Batty Moss) viaduct, with its 24 massive stone arches 104 feet (32 metres) above the moor, caused such loss of life that the railway paid for an expansion of the local graveyard.


Memorials along the line, especially those at St Mary’s Church Outhgill and St Leonards’ Church, Chapel-le-dale commemorate the lives of some of the men who died building the line.


Yorkshire Dales


The Yorkshire Dales has many moods; it can be wild and windswept or quietly tranquil with valleys full of hay meadows, dry stone walls and barns.


Spectacular waterfalls and ancient woodlands contrast with the scattered remains of rural industries. Together, nature and people created a special landscape of immense beauty and character – one of the most picturesque places in the country.


The most extensive caving area in the UK is here, including the longest cave system – the Three Counties System – and one of the largest caverns and the highest unbroken underground waterfall at Gaping Gill.

Around 42% of the area of the National Park is moorland, which is internationally important for wildlife, plant species and the carbon they store as peat.


There are dozens of spectacular waterfalls such as Hardraw Force – the longest unbroken drop in England – Ingleton Falls, Janet’s Foss and the world famous Aysgarth Falls, and over a quarter of England’s flower-rich upland hay meadows and pastures are here – outstanding examples can be found in Swaledale and Langstrothdale.


Lastly, there are over 8,000 kilometres of dry-stone walls and 6,000 field barns in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and half the country’s limestone pavements.


York Minster


York's cathedral church is one of the finest medieval buildings in Europe.


The Minster is also known as St Peter's, its full name being the 'Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter in York'. In the past the church sat within its own walled precinct, known as the Liberty of St Peter.


The site of the magnificent medieval building has always been an important one for the city. The remains of the Basilica, the ceremonial centre of the Roman fortress, have been found beneath the Minster building.


The first Christian church on the site has been dated to 627 and the first Archbishop of York was recognised by the Pope in 732.


The present Gothic-style church was designed to be the greatest cathedral in the kingdom. It was built over 250 years, between 1220 and 1472.


As the natural centre of the Church in the North, the Minster has often played an important role in great national affairs - not least during the turbulent years of the Reformation and the Civil War.


Clifford’s Tower


Clifford’s Tower is the largest remaining building of York Castle, northern England’s greatest medieval royal fortress.


The tower offers unrivalled views over the ancient city, standing as a proud symbol of the power of England's medieval kings; the tower was originally built by William the Conqueror to subdue the rebels of the north, it was twice burned to the ground, before being rebuilt by Henry III in the 13th century.


The tower takes its name from one grisly incident in its long history, when Roger de Clifford was executed for treason against Edward II and hanged in chains from the tower walls.


With sweeping panoramic views of York and the surrounding countryside, it isn't hard to see why Clifford's Tower played such a crucial role in the control of northern England.


Shambles


The Shambles in York (officially just ‘Shambles’) is a narrow street of mostly timber buildings that date back as far as the 13th Century, though it was mentioned in the Doomsday Book of William the Conqueror in 1086.


The name is thought to derive from ‘Shammel’, an Anglo-Saxon word for the shelves which were a prominent feature of the open shop-fronts.


The street was originally home to butchers, with each shop specialising in a different meat. While the street is still home to a butcher, the rest of the street is now filled with a bright mix of mostly independent retailers.


Many of the buildings on the street today date back to the late fourteenth and fifteenth century (around 1350-1475). Lacking modern-day sanitation facilities, there was a constant problem of how to dispose of the waste produced by the slaughter of animals in the city. The pavements are raised either side of the cobbled street to form a channel where the butchers would wash away their offal and blood twice a week.


In some sections of the Shambles it is possible to touch both sides of the street with your arms outstretched. The architecture which now appears so quaint had a very practical purpose. The overhanging timber-framed fronts of the buildings are deliberately close-set so as to give shelter to the ‘wattle and daub’ walls below. This would also have protected the meat from any direct sunshine.


The York Castle Museum


York Castle Museum was created thanks to the vision of a Pickering doctor called John Lamplugh Kirk.


Dr Kirk wanted to create a museum that would transport people back in time featuring objects from local communities that reflected everyday life in the past.


Kirk was fascinated by history, and by vanishing ways of life – especially rural life. He lived at a time when the pace of industrialisation could be very keenly felt. Within his lifetime, steam travel changed the world, and motor travel was beginning too.

The Roman Multangle Tower in the museum grounds


Cities were rapidly expanding, traditions and ways of working were changing forever, and many trade skills were becoming obsolete and being forgotten.


On his travels through Yorkshire and further afield, he collected obsolete and rare survivals of vanishing ways of life, his collection growing year on year, and by 1918 his collection included everything from perambulators to antique weapons, potato dribblers to a Tudor barge, Victorian hypodermic needles to horse bridles.


In 1935, Dr Kirk agreed to give his collection to the City of York, but continued to be personally invested in every element of the museum and the display of his collections.


Part of this involved the creation of ‘Kirkgate’ - a recreated Victorian street which has become the most iconic part of York Castle Museum.

Dr Kirk wanted to create a street scene where people felt that they were transported to a bygone age. When it first opened, many shops and locations were named after people who had helped to found the museum.


The Vale of York Hoard

The Vale of York Hoard was discovered in North Yorkshire in January 2007 by two metal-detectorists, David and Andrew Whelan, who kept the find intact and promptly reported it to their local Finds Liaison Officer.


It was declared Treasure in 2009 and was valued at £1,082,000 by the independent Treasure Valuation Committee.


The size and quality of the material in the hoard is remarkable, making it the most important find of its type in Britain for over 150 years.


The Middleham Jewel

A late 15th-century gold pendant, set with a large blue sapphire, the Middleham Jewel was discovered by a metal detectorist in 1985 near Middleham Castle, the northern home of Richard III.


Each side of the lozenge-shaped pendant is engraved with a religious scene. The blue colour of the sapphire (related to the Virgin Mary), the presence of several female-saints, and the depiction of the Nativity scene suggest that the jewel may have been intended to assist childbirth.


The sapphire set above the Crucifixion may have been intended to have other magical or medicinal qualities as well, being able to cure ulcers, poor eyesight, headaches and stammers.


The two words which follow the main Latin text – Tetragrammaton (the Latinised Hebrew name of God) and Ananizapta – may have been used as a charm against epilepsy.


The Angel of Semerwater


This tale states that there was originally a town where Lake Semerwater currently sits, but it was submerged because of the townspeople’s selfishness.


It all started when an old homeless man came to town and went door to door begging for something to eat or drink. With each door, he went to he was turned away and shunned.


Eventually, the old man walked up to the door of a poor yet welcoming couple who let him in and gave him a fresh oatcake and a drink, even though they didn’t have much for themselves.

As the old man was leaving the nice couple’s home, he transformed into a bright, beautiful angel. As he rose up into the air he uttered a curse on the town:


“Semerwater rise, and Semerwater sink, and swallow the town all save this house, where they gave me food and drink.”


And with that the lake rose up and swallowed the town and its inhabitants, only sparing the couple that fed and cared for the old man. Some say you can still hear the town’s bell ringing from the lake.


There are also tales that say a large stone north of Semerwater is there because of a battle between a giant and the Devil. Said to have been thrown by the giant, it is known as the Carlow Stone.


A stone thrown by the Devil is said to have landed on the slopes of Addleborough and still holds the Devil’s claw marks. This stone was accurately named the Devil’s Stone.


Mother Shipton’s Cave


Mother Shipton is England's most famous Prophetess. She foretold the fates of several rulers within and just after her lifetime, as well as the invention of iron ships, the Great Fire of London in 1666, and the defeat of the Spanish Armada.


Born Ursula Sontheil in 1488, during the reign of Henry VII, father of Henry VIII, little is known about her parents, but legend has it that she was born during a violent thunderstorm in a cave on the banks of the River Nidd in Knaresborough.


Her mother, Agatha, was just fifteen years old when she gave birth, and despite being dragged before the local magistrate, she would not reveal who the father was.


With no family and no friends to support her, Agatha raised Ursula in the cave on her own for two years before the Abbott of Beverley took pity on them and a local family took Ursula in. Agatha was taken to a nunnery far away, where she died some years later. She never saw her daughter again.

The Petrifying Well near Mother Shipton's cave


Ursula grew up around Knaresborough. She was a strange child, both in looks and in nature. Her nose was large and crooked, her back bent and her legs twisted. Just like a witch. She was taunted and teased by the local people and so in time she learnt she was best off on her own.


She spent most of her days around the cave where she was born. There she studied the forest, the flowers and herbs and made remedies and potions with them.


As well as making traditional remedies, Mother Shipton had another gift. She could predict the future.


It started off with small premonitions but as she practised, she became more confident and her powers grew. Soon she was known as Knaresborough’s Prophetess, a witch. She made her living telling the future and warning those who asked of what was to come.


After a long life, she died in 1561, aged 73.


Churn Milk Peg


Short Lea Lane is linked with fairy lore, being a favourite haunt of Churn-milk Peg, a being, perhaps, peculiar to Craven.


Peg is the ghost of an old and very ugly hag, with a pipe in her mouth. Her job is to protect the nuts, when in the pulpy state called churn-milk, from being gathered by naughty children.


All she says is, “Smoke! Smoke a wooden pipe! Getting nuts before they’re ripe!”


If this rhyme does not succeed in scaring the children, then churn-milk Peg ‘tacks em!’


The Wold Newton Triangle


The mysterious Wold Newton triangle is an area of special paranormal interest, from Bridlington in the South, to the outskirts of Scarborough in the North and as far west as Ganton.


Long ago, this part of Yorkshire was once a haven for wolves which roamed the Wolds countryside, right up until the 18th Century. Reportedly, these beasts would dig up bodies from graves, which according to local legend would turn them into werewolves.


There have also been sightings of zombies recorded here since the 12th Century.

One of its most fearsome inhabitants is the werewolf, known as “Old Stinker,” due to his bad breath. One night in the 1960s, a lorry driver was travelling down the remote road between Bridlington and Flixton, when a pair of red eyes appeared before him. At first he thought it was another vehicle – that is until a werewolf type creature crashed through his windscreen!


Another reason for mystical happenings in the triangle are “ley lines,” which are a special geographical alignment that are believed by some to be lines of hidden energy which are connected to the paranormal between ancient monuments such as The Rudston Monolith and Stonehenge.


In the Wold Newton triangle lies the village of Rudston, which claims to be the oldest settlement in England.


The monolith at its centre dates back to the early Bronze Age and was a place of worship for the Beaker people in around 2000BC. At 25m, it is the highest standing stone in Britain and located near the church. According to legend, the stone was thrown there by the devil and was worshipped by the tribe people in the area.

Another source of mystery in the Wold Newton Triangle is the Gypsey Race river, which flows through the area on its way to Bridlington harbour.


This underground water course only occasionally rises above the surface, at the Great Wold Valley, located in the triangle, regardless of the weather.


It is said that the Gypsey race flows the year before a major historical event and has done so prior to the English Civil War, The Black Death plagues and both world wars. Locals call this river “The Waters of Woe, as it is seen as a sign of impending doom.


Another strange event to hit the triangle was a great meteor which fell out of the sky during a thunderstorm in December 1795. Among the frightened villagers was a local journalist and playwright, Major Topham, who witnessed the dramatic event. He reported it to the wider press of the time.


Legend has it that at the time of the meteor falling out of the sky, a couple were in a stagecoach.


They were strangely hypnotised so they could not remember when the rock flew past them and afterwards the lives of their families thereafter took mysterious paths…


The Barguest of Trollers Gill


A half hour's walk from Appletreewick in the Yorkshire Dales is the narrow limestone gorge of Trollers Gill. Set among abandoned lead-mine shafts, it's a place that's inspired many folk tales.


The very name is folkloric, deriving from "troll" and an old word for "rear end". It got its name from a local legend that trolls lived there and would roll stones down the sides of the gorge whenever humans approached.


Today, the most dangerous thing is the stream bed after heavy rain. Most of the time, it's dry as a bone – but its underground network of caves can overflow, making it slippery underfoot.


It's not only trolls who have been said to live there. Legends abound of sprites, pixies, goblins, gnomes and boggarts. There's even a pothole, 55 metres deep, known as "Hell Hole".


One popular legend concerns a terrifying dog called the Barguest who, like Medusa, has a deadly gaze that can turn you into stone on the spot. Its long hair, bowl-sized eyes and razor-sharp teeth are the stuff of nightmares.

The Barguest is a variation of the British and Northern European legend of the hellhound. Stories dating back to the 12th century tell of ghostly black hounds that roam the land – with East Anglia's Black Shuck still being spotted to this day.


The Barguest isn't only said to have lived in Trollers Gill. It's been sighted in York and Whitby, roaming the streets and alleys in search of human prey. In Darlington, the Barguest is a shapeshifter, taking the form of a headless man, a white cat, a rabbit and a black dog.


One legend has it that the Barguest appears on the death of a person of note. He stalks the town, followed by all the neighbourhood's dogs in a cacophony of howls and barks.


The common denominator of all these legends is a mythical, monstrous black dog with huge teeth and claws – although further north, in Northumberland and Durham, the word can refer to a ghost or household sprite.


The Penhill Giant


The Penhill Giant was very big and notoriously grumpy. He kept a herd of high altitude pigs and a big bad dog with the usual legendary bad dog equipment i.e. teeth like nails, jaws like a steel trap, etc.


Occasionally the Giant popped down the hill for a spot of sheep rustling, but he mostly kept himself to himself. One day a girl was bringing the sheep down from the high moor beside Penhill when one of her flock ran off. With a muttered curse about the intelligence of woolly things she trudged off in pursuit up the hill. Suddenly a cold grey shadow fell over her and when she looked up all she could see was a sky full of giant.


He carried her, kicking and screaming, up the slope and set her down on the hilltop. He was licking his lips as he looked forward to having his wicked way with her, when his (up till now) faithful hound bit him on the leg. The big bad dog had reconsidered where his loyalties lay and, while he wouldn’t say no to a nice slice of half-inched mutton, he drew the line at allowing his master to ravish virgins.


The dog chased the giant round and round the hilltop nipping at heels and buttocks until the giant tripped over a boulder and pitched headfirst over Penhill Crags. There was a nasty crunching sound and that was that.


I presume the dog and the maiden lived happily ever after.


Cow and Calf Rocks


Rombald's Moor is a large area of moorland which stretches between the Airedale and Wharfedale valleys, with the towns of Ilkley and Keighley lying on its northern and southern borders.


While today the moor is primarily used for recreational purposes and is a popular haunt among walkers, it was once used as a ground for hunting and farming, with traces of human activity dating back as far as the Mesolithic era and continuing through the Neolithic and Bronze Age.


Awash with craggy outcrops, gritstone and rough land overgrown with heather, bracken and wild grass, the landscape is perhaps most well-known for its distinctive rock carvings.


From hanging stones and boulders to huge flat slabs, more than 400 rocks carvings (known as 'cup and ring' stones) can be found dotted around the moor, but the most notable site on the landscape is that of the iconic Cow and Calf rocks on Ilkley Moor - believed to have been created at the hands of giants.

The Skirtful of Stones


According to local folklore, the moor was home to a great giant, named Rombald, who resided here with his wife. Legend states that the rocks were formed following a domestic disagreement, which saw Rombald flee over the moor with his wife in hot pursuit.


He is said to have stamped on the rock as he leapt across the valley, causing it to split into two, separating the calf from the cow.


His angry wife following behind is then rumoured to have dropped the stones held in her skirt to create the rock formation now known as The Skirtful of Stones.


Wade’s Causeway and The Devil’s Punchbowl


The name “Wade’s Causeway” derives from a local legend that the ‘road’ linked the home of a giant called Wade who lived at Mulgrave Castle with that of his wife, Bel, who lived at Pickering Castle.


First recorded as ‘Wade’s Causeway – a Roman Way’ on a map of 1720, it then features in most antiquarian accounts of the area as part of a Roman road, traced for various distances along a route from Amotherby, near Malton, in the south towards the coast north of Whitby, a distance of some 33 to 35 miles.


More recent work, however, has suggested that it could be medieval, or that it might not be a road at all, but a much modified Neolithic or early Bronze Age boundary feature.


The “Devil’s Punchbowl” or “Hole of Horcum” meanwhile is a fist shaped valley.

Legend has it that the giant Wade and his wife, Bel, had a massive argument and in temper he picked a fistful of soil (the Hole of Horcum) and then threw it at his wife, missing her. It landed and formed Blakey Ridge.


The Kilburn White Horse


Kilburn White Horse is the most northerly turf-cut figure in Britain and one of the most famous landmarks in North Yorkshire.


It's easily visible from the south, below Sutton Bank, and while it's difficult to get a sense of its scale from the path on the escarpment edge above, there are steps down the side which give a closer view.


The horse dates from 1857, when the outline of the horse was marked out by the Kilburn village schoolmaster and his pupils.


The horse was then cut into the limestone underneath – to make it more visible today, chalk chippings are added at intervals and the horse is painted every couple of years to ensure it remains visible.


The Kelpies of Ure and Strid


Deep within the Yorkshire Dales, surrounded by the gentle slopes of lush, green hills and trees as old as time, a hauntingly beautiful creature stalks the nearby riverbanks.


Preying on tired travellers or unsuspecting children, the kelpie, a shapeshifting spirit, often appears in the form of a magnificent black or white horse. It joins ramblers on their journey, hoping they will give into temptation and clamber onto its back.


Once they do, the creature gallops off at breakneck speed and dives into one of the deep pools in the river, mercilessly drowning the rider. Often, the kelpie also devours its victims and throws the entrails to the water's edge.

Fishermen have reported that once a year, when the sun disappears and the world is plunged into darkness, a water beast emerges from the River Ure at Middleham.


Hunting with only the stars and the moon as witnesses, it claims the life of an unlucky soul.

Another such creature is said to have been spotted appearing from the foam of the River Strid, looking for its next victim.


The Cottingley Fairies


In 1920 a series of photos of fairies captured the attention of the world. The photos had been taken by two young girls, the cousins Frances Griffith and Elsie Wright, while playing in the garden of Elsie's Cottingley village home.


Photographic experts examined the pictures and declared them genuine. Spiritualists promoted them as proof of the existence of supernatural creatures, and despite criticism by sceptics, the pictures became among the most widely recognized photos in the world.


It was only decades later, in the late 1970s, that the photos were definitively debunked.


Janet’s Foss


The stunning waterfall located close to Malham village gets its name from a local folk tale that claims that the small cascade is home to Janet, Queen of the Fairies.


Over the years the picturesque site has been used for numerous things, from sheep dipping to wedding ceremonies, all conducted with the enchanting air of the legend. But amid those visiting the magical scene in search of Janet, there are tales from those who claim to have encountered something different: a malevolent entity that feeds off of the life force or aura of anyone unfortunate enough to come face to face with it.


Often described appearing as a green mist floating out of the water at the foot of the falls, this rare phenomenon is thought to be that of a wraith.

Janet's Cave


There are numerous theories surrounding the legend of the wraith; some claim that she would have practised black magic in life and this eternal damnation is her punishment. Others claim that she was a green lady, similar to the legend in Settle, but she became so vengeful, so aggressive over the years, that she turned into a creature much worse.


Generally speaking, wraiths are not thought to be ghosts or demons, but rather a strange entity somewhere in between the two, similar to poltergeists but much more powerful when appearing as a full-bodied apparition.


There have been many alleged sightings at Janet’s Foss over the years, and people thought the phenomenon to be Janet herself, which begs the question: did people spot the wraith in times gone by and assume it to be an enchanting fairy?



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