Out & About …

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

View of the village green of Old Byland surrounded by cottages built of grey limestone.

Old Byland, a pretty little village in the Tabular Hills

When you enter the village of Old Byland, you’ll be greeted by charming pale yellow-grey cottages made of ooidal limestone surrounding a spacious village green. Getting there is a bit of a journey ‚ÄĒ we climbed up the long, dry valley of High Gill. But the effort was worth it, as it felt like a step back in time.

In fact, Old Byland has a rich history that dates back to the 12th century. The land was granted to some wandering monks from Furness Abbey in Lancashire by a Norman baron named Roger de Mowbray. The monks built their abbey, moving the displaced peasants to a higher site about 1¬ľ miles to the southwest, which became Old Byland.

It’s believed that the layout of the village shows some evidence of planning during medieval times. Additionally, there are earthworks at the western end of the village which may indicate the site of a short-lived monastic cell or a grange farm1NYM HER No:¬†1928.

According to tradition, the people living nearby were bothered by the abbey bells that chimed at the same time as the bells of the nearby Rievaulx. As a result, the brothers moved to a new site east of Oldstead village, which is where the ruins of Byland Abbey can be seen today.

Long range view of Old Byland Church
Old Byland Church

The current All Saints church in Old Byland is situated in the north-west corner of the village, concealed behind nearby houses. Pevsner, a renowned architectural historian, characterised the church as ‚Äúnot a good looking building‚ÄĚ2Pevsner, Nikolaus. “The Buildings of England – Yorkshire – The North Riding”. Page 275. Penguin Books. Reprinted 1985. ISBN 0 14 071009 9. During its restoration in 1890, it was reported that the church was ‚Äúone of the oldest in England, [that] dates before the Conquest.‚ÄĚ3‚ÄėRe Opening of Old Byland Church. | Yorkshire Evening Press | Tuesday 04 November 1890 | British Newspaper Archive‚Äô. 2023.¬†Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk¬†<https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000632/18901104/071/0004> [accessed 8 April 2023] This was probably influenced by the fact that the Domesday Survey records the existence of a wooden church and a priest4“The North York Moors Landscape Heritage”. Edited by D.A.Spratt and B.J.D.Harrison. Page 111. David & Charles. 1989. ISBN 0 7153 93472.. Additionally, the church’s outer wall boasts some intriguing carvings that are believed to be pagan in origin.

  • 1
    NYM HER No: 1928
  • 2
    Pevsner, Nikolaus. “The Buildings of England – Yorkshire – The North Riding”. Page 275. Penguin Books. Reprinted 1985. ISBN 0 14 071009 9
  • 3
    ‚ÄėRe Opening of Old Byland Church. | Yorkshire Evening Press | Tuesday 04 November 1890 | British Newspaper Archive‚Äô. 2023.¬†Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk¬†<https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000632/18901104/071/0004> [accessed 8 April 2023]
  • 4
    “The North York Moors Landscape Heritage”. Edited by D.A.Spratt and B.J.D.Harrison. Page 111. David & Charles. 1989. ISBN 0 7153 93472.

Posted

in

, ,

by

Tags:

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *