Out & About …

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

Landscape photo of a wooded hillside with the sandstone crag of Highcliff Nab on the left. A rather dull day.

Highcliffe Nab — observer of history

Guisborough is an ancient place, with a long and varied history. It was important enough during the time of the Conquest to be listed in the Domesday Book, a detailed record of The Conqueror’s ill-gotten gains, although it was of relatively low value, contributing just a few shillings per year to the royal coffers1Powell-Smith, Anna. 2023. ‘Guisborough | Domesday Book’, Opendomesday.org <https://opendomesday.org/place/NZ6116/guisborough/> [accessed 28 March 2023].

Over the years, like the rest of the country, incomers have made Guisborough their home: the Romans, Saxons, Danes, and Normans. During the Wars of the Roses, the town probably sent brave men to fight. It certainly participated in a movement called the Pilgrimage of Grace, which was a misguided attempt to force Henry VIII to take back his former queen and abandon his religious reformation.

In the English Civil War, Guisborough was the site of a skirmish between Royalists and Roundheads in 1643, which resulted in the defeat of the Royalists2‘The Battlefields Hub → the Civil Wars → the Battle of Battle of Guisborough’. 2023. Battlefieldstrust.com <https://www.battlefieldstrust.com/resource-centre/civil-war/battleview.asp?BattleFieldId=92#:~:text=A%20small%20scale%20action%20resulting,south%20east%20or%20south%20west.> [accessed 28 March 2023].

Although this is but a brief historical account of Guisborough, it’s important to acknowledge the significance of the Priory. Founded in 1129 by Robert de Brus, it thrived for many years, until dissolved by the aforementioned King Henry VIII. The east end of the priory church remains standing to this day, with its striking Gothic window that creates a unique and recognisable arch shape. This arch has become an iconic symbol of Guisborough, known and celebrated by locals and visitors alike.

In the 19th-century, ironstone was discovered in the surrounding area, and the local economy began to shift and adapt. As a result, the once-small town of Guisborough grew into a bustling community, no longer dependent on agriculture as its primary source of income. These days, many people who live in Guisborough work elsewhere and commute, contributing to its ongoing growth and development.

Despite the many changes that have taken place over the years in Guisborough, one feature has remained constant: Highcliff Nab. This geological formation is made up of sedimentary sandstone that was formed during the Jurassic period, between 174.1 and 168.3 million years ago3‘BGS Lexicon of Named Rock Units – Result Details’. 2020. Bgs.ac.uk <https://webapps.bgs.ac.uk/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?pub=SKCH> [accessed 28 March 2023]. Over the centuries, as people have come and gone, Highcliff Nab has remained a steadfast sentinel, standing tall and proud, quietly observing the excesses and disagreements of humankind.



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