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The Yorkshire Ridings Society
preserving Yorkshire's integrity

Yorkshire Ridings Society

Plotted History

Yorkshire has had a fascinating, roller-coaster history, characterised in the thousand years or so between the departure of the Romans and the end of the Civil War by short, sharp upheavals followed by long periods of recovery and development.

Yorkshire's Stone Age hunters and gatherers would have found the area covered in forests and full of wildlife.  From a few thousand years BC the forests began to be cut down for farming, before the Bronze Age brought tools and weapons. Celtic settlers arrived in Yorkshire around 500BC, and the Romans in AD71.  The Roman forts were gradually succeeded by towns including York, the capital of the Roman North, the place that gave Yorkshire its name, and its centre of gravity to this day.  Though they had a substantial impact on Yorkshire's infrastructure, the Romans were gone by the 5th century.  Next came the Anglo-Saxons together with the arrival of Christianity and the start of trade, though life remained largely agricultural.  And reasonably peaceful too, until the Vikings landed, first raiding and then ruling Yorkshire for a century.  They left Yorkshire with the word threthingr, meaning third part and later Riding, which was used to describe the three regions of Yorkshire: the North, West and East Ridings.

Harald Hardrada arrived from Norway in 1066, defeated by the English in some of the country's most famous battles, William of Normandy became king, but soon faced a rebellion from Yorkshire that he brutally suppressed in the 'Harrying of the North'.  Recovering over the next few centuries, new towns, including Barnsley, Hull, Leeds and Sheffield, began to be established.  The population rose, farming increased, and the monasteries sprang up.  But in the 14th century Yorkshire was hit by a triple whammy of famine, the Black Death and wars with the Scots.  The next century brought the Wars of the Roses between the Houses of York and Lancaster, further decimating Yorkshire's towns and population.

Another spell of recovery followed, with agriculture and trades like wool and cloth enriching the region.  Henry VIII's reformation and the dissolution of the monasteries brought more chaos, and in the 1640s Yorkshire was split by the Civil War.  Over the next few centuries the identity and character of Yorkshire as we know it started to emerge.  As industry flourished through the 18th century, towns sprawled and transport links improved, the railways in particular bringing previously remote areas much closer together.  With heavier industries like coal and steel arriving, conditions in the towns and factories worsened, though by the late 19th century improvements to the water supply and public facilities were being made.  More money and leisure accelerated the growth of seaside towns like Scarborough.

The decline of traditional industries into the 20th century hit Yorkshire hard and forced it to find new ones.  The Second World War brought more hardships and widespread bombing.  Afterwards, immigration shook up Yorkshire's demographics, and in 1974 the reorganisation of local government 

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