Bronze Age – Roman Age

Metal tools came to prominence during the Bronze Age (2500 to 500 BC) and inhabitants began to trade more openly between settlements. While the tools and weapons made from bronze will certainly have looked impressive, they would not have been as dependable as the ones which were made during the Iron Age (499 BC to 71 AD). In this period a number of powerful chiefs established their dominance over the land and many farmers worked on their behalf. Stone huts were constructed around this time and many field boundaries were established. It is also believed that groups of people lived in hill forts.

Major changes to way people lived right across Great Britain came after the Romans came to these shores in 43 AD. The invaders established garrisons in much of the country, but few examples of Roman encampment exist in the Dales. One that has been uncovered was in Healaugh in Swaledale. Between 1988 and 1990 a team of archaeologists excavated a settlement comprising of six building platforms dug into a hillside. These buildings would have has a stone flooring with walls made from slabs of rock.

A second century Roman villa known as Kirk Sink has also been discovered at Gargrave, just outside the south western boundary of the Yorkshire Dales.

Despite the collapse of central authorities, life continued as normal in the dales after the Roman’s withdrawal. Britain entered the period known as the Dark Ages, but local people continued to live off the land and few things changed for them. Because of the region being largely rural, historians believe that a number of chiefdoms would have existed in the dales but little evidence of this has been found.

The next major force to make the area a part of its dominion came following the arrival of Scandinavian settlers between the sixth and ninth centuries. The origins of how many dales have their current names come from this era.

William the conquerorDespite this, few archaeological sites have been found to prove that there were significant numbers of Anglican and Viking settlements. Certainly, some will have migrated from established Viking cities such as York, while others will have come down from Scotland, but only one Scandinavian farmstead has been found in the whole of the Dales.

Following the Norman invasion of 1066, a number of landowners from the Dales were involved in bloody rebellions against their new rulers, but William the Conqueror eventually repressed them by burning their crops and estates.

Present Day

The Dales continued to play a role in major conflicts throughout the following six hundred years. Thankfully, today it is one of the most peaceful places in the northern hemisphere and its natural beauty is revered the whole world over.

Around 60,000 people live and work in the park, while an estimated eight million tourists visit every year.

You can find more information on each of the Yorkshire Dales and Villages in the Dales on this website.

Village of Grinton Copyright Bill Boaden and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Village of Grinton
Copyright Bill Boaden and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence