Aireyholme Farm

Best known as where James Cook lived as a boy and where his father was employed as the farm foreman, although it is likely that the Cook family’s actual cottage was sited a little distance out of shot to the left at the foot of Cliff Rigg. The modern farm buildings in the photo date from the early 18th-century.

The first element of the name of Aireyholme is Celtic, which is not unusual in Yorkshire, being imported into placenames through Scandinavian settlers crossing the Irish Sea. Airgh is Old Irish for an upland pasture or a shieling used in the summer. Surprisingly for hill terrain, holmr is Old Scandinavian for a water meadow. It is in the Domesday Book that Aireyholme first enters the historical records as Ergun with one carucate in plough and two carucates unploughed. A carucate was a medieval unit of land which a team of eight oxen could plough in a single season. It is generally taken to be about 120 acres.

By the mid-17th-century Aireyholme is recorded as unploughed Common Land in which villagers had the right to pasture their cattle. But along came the Enclosure Acts and in 1658 Common Land in Great Ayton was privatised with the 484 acres of Aireyholme being awarded to the Lord of the Manor, John Coulson, who probably had the original farm buildings built.
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