A brief history of Early Yorkshire

The area of Yorkshire in Northern England has been home to humans since 8000BC, since the Ice Age glaciers retreated North and left the land habitable. The origins of modern Yorkshire begin in 1055, when the name was first written down in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Let us chronicle just some of the key places and events of the ancient Yorkshire area.

10,000 BC

Plate V from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Vol I.

At this time, a possible bridge of ice still linked the area and mainland Europe. The first evidence of human activity in the Yorkshire area dates from around then too, in the form of a harpoon found in Victoria cave. Coincidentally, the nearest major settlement to this find is the village of Settle in North Yorkshire. The cave was first mapped in modern times the year after the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1937, which is how it was granted its royal moniker.

8700 BC

Radiocarbon dating puts the habitation of Star Carr, one of the biggest Neolithic settlement finds in the UK, at around this time. Star Carr is about five miles south of Scarborough, in North Yorkshire. Finds here include a wooden swamp platform, marking the oldest example of carpentry in Europe, and deer skulls turned into antlered headgear – of which over 140 have been discovered.

5000 BC

Around this time, the last land link to Germany fully eroded into the North Sea – thereby cutting the British Isles off from mainland Europe completely. There is evidence that caves in the area, such as Chapel Cave near Malham in the Pennines, were used as hunting bases for Neolithic hunter-gatherer groups during this time.

3000 BC

It is around this time that the first evidence of agriculture starts to appear in Yorkshire. Areas of interest include West Heslerton in the East of the County, where Yorkshire inhabitants first began using burial barrows. These barrows can now be found all over the Yorkshire moors. The Rudston Monolith, mentioned before on this site as a locus of supernatural beliefs and superstitions, is also dated to around this time. To this day it is Britain’s tallest standing stone.

2000BC

Argham Dyke, prehistoric earthworks located near Rudstone, is dated to around this date. The legendary stream, the Gypsy Race, also runs by this location. You’d be hard pressed to find any evidence of it today though, as local farmers have simply covered it all over since excavations finished in the 1950s.

500BC

This time marks the first incursions of Classic European visitors to the islands of Great Britain. Hundreds of years before the attempted Roman Invasion of Caesar in 55BC, the Greek’s and the Carthaginians visited Ancient Britain – although there is little to no evidence they made it as far North as Yorkshire.

69AD

This date marks the year that Cartimandua, the last queen of the Celtic Brigantes tribe that controlled most of the Yorkshire area, was brought down in a revolt which was then quelled by the Romans. The European invaders controlled the territory for much of the next 400 years.