Ingleborough Archaeology and History

This fascinating five part video series with archaeologist David Johnson provides a comprehensive overview of the key archaeology and history of the Ingleborough massif

David Johnson initially studied history and historical geography, gained his first experience of field archaeology at the age of 22, and has spent a lifetime trying to make sense of rural landscapes and ‘deconstruct’ the links between the physical landscape and the ways in which people through the ages have interacted with their environment. David has lectured and published widely on his research interests, and led four archaeology projects as part of our Stories in Stone programme.

Part 1 - Ingleborough hillfort

It has been repeated many times that the summit plateau of Ingleborough was an Iron Age hillfort occupied during the centuries of Roman occupation, from which native Brigantian tribesmen sallied forth against Roman troops. Unfortunately for this romanticised (and nationalistic?) hypothesis the evidence is lacking. This presentation will discuss the reasons why the notion of a defensive hillfort makes no sense and suggests what may have been going on up there – and when.

Part 2 - Burials, liminality and stone settings

On the limestone plateau that surrounds Ingleborough’s summit there is archaeological evidence of prehistoric funerary activity from within the Neolithic and Bronze Age eras. In both eras this activity is visible to us as burial mounds: large and linear within the Neolithic, small and circular in the Bronze Age. Part 2 of this series looks at the evidence from around the hill and looks at evidence gleaned from the Stories in Stone project that surveyed what are termed ‘stone settings’. 

Part 3 - Ingleborough in the 'Dark Ages'

It is thought that there was a significant Viking presence in North Craven; however, archaeological excavations over the past decade have proven a more complex scenario. Eight individual farmsteads, and a tight nucleation of five farmsteads, all surviving as foundations, have been proven by radiocarbon dating to be from the Anglo-Saxon period. This presentation summarises the findings of these excavations.

Part 4 - Ingleborough's developing human landscape

Throughout and beyond the medieval period the Ingleborough massif was a hive of activity which has modified the landscape in many ways. Livestock management dominates now but there is archaeological evidence of medieval crop farming; there is a network of historical routeways around the hill; and evidence of ‘lost’ farms and grouse shooting. 

Part 5 - Industrial Ingleborough

It is obvious that quarrying around the edges of the Ingleborough massif is still a significant contributor to the local and national economy but there is also less obvious evidence of past industrial activity across the massif. The Millstone Grit and Yoredale Sandstone have been exploited for building stone and millstone production; lead and copper deposits were trialled to test their economic viability; and Carboniferous Limestone was quarried for producing lime in clamp kilns, isolated field kilns and in the major industrial concerns at Horton in Ribblesdale and Helwith Bridge.