Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

Connections: A Hidden Iron Age Gem to Trevelyan’s Controversial Past

According to the National Trust’s heritage records, this conspicuous feature is termed a “small univallate earthwork.” ‘Univallate’ is just a fancy way of saying it’s got one raised edge encircling a ditch. Usually, that word is usually associated with hillforts, but here, the lack of any visible signs of habitation inside points more towards a stock enclosure than a bustling settlement. What sets this one apart is its polygonal shape, a rarity compared to the usual oval forms, measuring roughly 85 by 70 metres1‘MNA150402 | National Trust Heritage Records’. 2015. Nationaltrust.org.uk <https://heritagerecords.nationaltrust.org.uk/HBSMR/MonRecord.aspx?uid=MNA150402> [accessed 18 February 2024].

So, here I am, on Greenleighton Moor up in Northumberland, where shallow medieval ridge and furrow cultivation ridges are everywhere yet only seen by the skylarks2‘MNA199021 | National Trust Heritage Records’. 2015. Nationaltrust.org.uk <https://heritagerecords.nationaltrust.org.uk/HBSMR/MonRecord.aspx?uid=MNA199021> [accessed 18 February 2024]. But the shape of this univallate earthwork suggests it dates from the local Iron Age or Romano-British tradition.

Now, stumbling upon this earthwork was one thing, but what really surprised me was discovering that this moor falls under the umbrella of the National Trust. It’s part and parcel of the Wallington Estate, spanning a whopping 13,151 acres, with 16 farms, most of Cambo village, and vast moorlands climbing beyond 300 metres. The entire estate was handed over to the Trust by the 3rd Baronet, Sir Charles Trevelyan, back in 19413‘ArcGIS Web Application’. 2024. Arcgis.com <https://national-trust.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=59d0d36e5b3a44ae8cc49fe38d47ffd7> [accessed 18 February 2024].

And here’s where North Yorkshire elbows its way into the narrative: Trevelyan married Mary Katherine Bell, the daughter of Sir Hugh Bell and half-sister to Gertrude Bell. That Sir Charles Trevelyan, by the way, is the grandson of the 1st Baronet, also named Charles, who served as the assistant secretary to HM Treasury during the Irish famine and the Highland Potato Famine in Scotland.

Now, old Trevelyan, infamous for pulling government support from the Irish during their famine, had a thing or two to say. He reckoned that “the judgement of God sent the calamity to teach the Irish a lesson”. While he made sure the Scots got their fair share of food relief during their potato blight, he conveniently overlooked the Irish. So, with cattle, oats, corn, and other foods getting exported, the Irish starved, a million perished, and 1.3 million were forced to emigrate. Queen Victoria, in her infinite wisdom, knighted Trevelyan and tossed in an extra year’s salary for his troubles4Corcoran, Bill. 2023. ‘Desk Murder: “for He Stole Trevelyan’s Corn…”’, North East Bylines <https://northeastbylines.co.uk/desk-murder-for-he-stole-trevelyans-corn/> [accessed 8 May 2023].

“Realise that everything connects to everything else.”





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