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DYD_1682_C_Smithy_Looking-NW Ribblehead Viking Settlement

May 2017(c): Ribblehead “Viking” Farmstead, settlement on Gauber High Pasture Rock

Wednesday 31 May, 2017, by Hannah Kingsbury

Historic Environment Record: MYD3669
Parish: Ingleton
OS Grid Reference: SD765784
Dale: Ribblesdale
Out of Oblivion:
Access: This site is publicly accessible, see Out of Oblivion for more details.
The settlement on Gauber High Pasture Rock (1100ft above sea level) is believed to be a Viking farmstead, possibly dating to the ninth century.
The farmstead is comprised of three buildings clustered around a paved courtyard, situated on a bare limestone pavement. The farmstead was initially recognised by their outlines in the turf, and today only the building foundations survive. The site was excavated in 1975-6, and included finds of coins, a long spearhead, and knives. The coins found were minted at York around the middle of the ninth century, suggesting that the Ribblehead farm was occupied in the second half of the ninth century, and this would make it one of the earliest groups of Scandinavian settlers in Yorkshire. The site is thought to be Viking in date due to the four ninth century coins and a Scandinavian knife that were found during the excavations. However,  debate continues amongst archaeologists as to the actual date of the site due to earlier excavations possibly having disturbed the context of the finds.
The largest structure has internal measurements of 64ft × 14ft, and walls averaging 5ft in thickness, and is believed to be the main domestic building. Excavations have suggested that the buildings would have had ridged timber roofs and were likely turf or heather thatched. One of the smaller adjacent buildings had a central hearth and deposits of iron scale around it, suggesting that it was a smithy.
In a charter of 1203 the site is referred to as a Hermitage (where a small community lived a religious life in seclusion).
The condition of this site is monitored as part of the Monuments at Risk Survey.
Photo credit: R Evans on behalf of YDNPA.

Picture of Hannah Kingsbury

Hannah Kingsbury

Hannah is the Cultural Heritage Officer for the Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership scheme


3 Replies to “May 2017(c): Ribblehead “Viking” Farmstead, settlement on Gauber High Pasture Rock”

  1. Andrew Ward says:

    I was one of a small group of children from Belper High School, staying in the school in Settle for a “Project Week” in July 1975 who helped “cut the turf” in the early part of the excavation. I don’t remember much, it rained quite a bit. The only thing we found that week was a rabbit’s skull – very exciting but not contemporary.

  2. Hello, I was a volunteer digger at Ribblehead, part of the team led by Alan King, for three successive summers in the Seventies. I remember keenly the finding of what we thought was a sword – and was I suspect the long spearhead referred to, or perhaps the knife. Good to read this account of the dig and it’s context.

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