Yorkshire is a county rich in history – from mysterious standing stones, to ancient churches and monumental cave systems. Even the landscape feels and looks ancient in places, with rock formations dating back millions of years. Read on for the surprising, and sometimes morbid, history of some the county’s most aged buildings.
First established in 672, this fantastic stone cathedral has been destroyed and rebuilt four times over the 1350 years it has been used as a place of worship. The original crypt still stands to this day and is open to visitors at various times throughout the year. This makes Ripon Cathedral one of the oldest buildings in the whole of the UK.
First built by Saint Wilfrid, with the help of master stonemasons from France and Italy, the original structure was razed to the ground by King Aedred in 948 AD. A second church was soon built but suffered a similar fate when it was destroyed by William the Conqueror’s forces during the unification of England in 1069. A major restoration began in 1220, and work continued on the church front until it was postponed due to the Wars of the Roses in 1455. Thus, Ripon Cathedral has felt the impact of many of the most important event’s in British, and Yorkshire, history – making for a truly unique historical visit.
Probably the most visited and well known of Britain’s abandoned Medieval villages, the isolated Wharram Percy is a popular spot for hikers, ramblers and historical tourists to this day. Evidence of settlement here exists from prehistory, but the first recorded evidence of habitation at Wharram Percy is in the Domesday Book of 1086 where it is recorded as the village of Warran.
The last residents left the village in the 16th century, as local nobles dedicated more land to sheep farming thus eliminating a lot of employment opportunities. Today, only the ruined church is fully visible above ground – although the foundations and other remnants of the rest of the village’s buildings can still be explored. It is now in the care of Historic England who signpost it with informational plaques and have a created an audio tour for visitors.
Richmond Castle is one of the most attractive castles of the Yorkshire Dales and stands on a commanding position on top a hill overlooking the town of Richmond. Offering spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, this 9th century castle remains a popular attraction for visitors and is looked after by English Heritage.
Built in 1071 following the brutal ‘harrying of the North’ by William the Conqueror’s invading forces, Richmond Castle was primarily a military installation. With an unparalleled viewpoint of miles of surrounding land, it was the perfect place to monitor the countryside for signs of an uprising. Local legend even suggests that King Arthur and his knights once slept there to shelter from a storm, and that an 17th century drummer boy who lost his way searching for them still haunts the castle dungeons with his ghostly drumming.