Not just any dry stone wall but a two metre thick one. Alongside side a lane at Boot in the quiet south west Lakeland valley of Eskdale. I’ve never seen a wall as thick as this before. I guess there was a surplus of stones during clearance of the fields.
Ok I may be jumping to the wrong conclusion here. Less than a month ago the gatepost on the left was toppled along with a section of the dry stone wall reportedly by two or three motorcyclists and a quad biker. The damage then was quickly repaired by the National Trust. This scene awaited me this morning. Too much of a coincidence? It may have been purely accidental. Having stood for two hundred years maybe a sheep tried to scale it. Not as daft as it sounds, I’ve seen sheep atop of walls in the Lake District.
Blocked up gates are not uncommon on the dry stone walls of the North York Moors. I always thought they were created when a gate was redundant and so blocked up permanently. But I recently read that in parts of Ireland phantom gates are traditionally used as a normal method closing a gateway. To move cattle or sheep the wall must be taken down and rebuilt. A lot of work. There is a shortage of wood in the windswept Aran Islands, Connemara or County Clare but this method of blocking up gateways has been adopted principally to prevent the winds from blowing across the exposed fields. I am not convinced however that this explanation is applicable to the North York Moors.
Until recently both sides of this wall on Ryston Bank was heavily forested. It has now been clear felled revealing a grand view of Roseberry Topping. The 1839 Tithe Map of Pinchinthorpe names the field the other side of the wall as “Browns Intake”. A field boundary is shown, most likely this wall. The 1893 Ordnance Survey shows the intake field as wooded. My guess is that the wall dates from the 18th century Enclosure Acts with a (wood) gate to allow stock to pass from the intake field onto the moor for summer grazing. Sometime prior to 1893 Brown’s Intake was set to woodland and the gate blocked up to keep the sheep out.
You may have noticed when the weather is a bit miserable I tend to resort to washed out colours or even black and white. But to be positive about the weather this morning, it wasn’t raining and the cloud base was a little higher than yesterday.
The photo is of Ryston Bank. Roseberry Topping is on the right with Little Roseberry on the left. The nick of the left is an old sandstone quarry now used by a footpath. Beyond the dry stone wall are the ubiquitous Tuley Tubes or treeshelters, an invention in 1979 by Graham Tuley, a forester with the Forestry Commission, to protect young tree saplings from grazing as well as weather protection. The tubes also provide protection should there be a need for spray the undergrowth. They quickly became popular in the UK and are now used worldwide. Certainly sunlight is supposed to degrade modern Tuley Tubes after about eight years, sufficient time for the sapling to become established, but I see many examples where the the trees have outgrown the tubes splitting them. There are no signs of disintegration and shreds of tubes litter the forest floor.
So where was I this morning? In a 13th century document “Cartularium Priory de Gyseburne” this shallow boggy valley was referred to as Rivelingdale which sounds to me a place of Middle Earth but nothing like the idyllic Elven paradise Tolkien of Rivendell. Somewhere in the marshes below is quite a stream, deep enough to get you very wet if you choose a bad place to cross. It rises from a spring mentioned in the same document as Rotandekelde or Rutandekelde meaning red spring. I guess this may be describing the orange mud associated the iron salts at chalybeate springs.
No spoilers. The photo is geolocated so the answer is there if you know how to extract the info.
It’s Ascension Thursday today and the end of Rogationtide. This is a period of Christian prayer and fasting. There are two periods of rogation: April 25 and the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday preceding Ascension Thursday. One of the customs during Rogationtide was the beating of the bounds when the minister would lead all his parishioners around the boundaries of their parish praying for their protection and perhaps whitewashing each boundary stone or marking it with chalk. The young lads of the district would also hit the stones with sticks.
It was important that every parishioner knew the limits of their parish so that there would be no dispute as to who was liable to contribute to the repair of the church for instance or who was entitled to be buried in the churchyard. It has also been suggested that as the parish would assume responsibility for the care of any children born out of wedlock within the parish it was important that the young lads had a good knowledge of the parish boundaries when they came to adolescent activities.
The photo shows the dry stone wall on Easby Moor denoting the boundary between Easby and Kildale parishes.
Commondale seems out of place. A village more suited to the dales of West Yorkshire with its steep sided valleys and industrial buildings. There is none of the vernacular sandstone architecture common in other villages of the North York Moors. Everything is built in a deep red brick. The church of St. Peters is brick, the old school house is brick, the old shop is brick. For Commondale is a “modern” village, still more of a hamlet really, but substantially built at the end of the 19th century. And the source of its wealth were those bricks.
It was Stokesley business man John Slater Pratt who opened the first brickworks in the middle of the 19th century which ceased operations when Pratt died in 1867. Five years later John Crossley restarted it but it closed again when he emigrated to America in 1882. Again it reopened under new owners but Crossley returned and brought back the works. His son Alfred took over until operations ceased for good in 1947. It was Alfred grew the business and whose name is on the village hall.
The name Commondale is said to be derived from Colmán of Lindisfarne, a 7th century monk from Whitby who became Bishop of Lindisfarne and a saint, although in the Domesday book the valley was referred to as Camiesdale. The first written documentation of Colemandale was in 1273.