Old map puts together pieces of our history

THE oldest known map of one of North Yorkshire’s most beautiful valleys has been saved for posterity by the county council.

The map depicting Swaledale was drawn in about 1707 to settle a dispute over the ownership of lead mining rights.

It was bought by the council’s County Records Office, based in Northallerton, in February for 1,000 and will be kept in carefully controlled conditions.


County Coun Chris Metcalfe said: “Historians were unaware of the map’s existence until it appeared recently in a dealer’s catalogue. This map is a unique and precious part of our heritage and we are extremely pleased we have been able to preserve it for future generations.”

The map reveals previously unavailable information about the size and location of settlements and access rights on the moor, including the right to graze stock, gather heather – which was used for thatch – and dig peat, which was used for fuel.

The 35-inch long map, which is drawn on sheepskin parchment, has already given rise to a lot of interest – not only from specialists, but from people who live in Swaledale or visit the area.

Although the original is locked away, the public will be able to study the details for themselves after an exact copy of the map was presented to Swaledale Museum, in Reeth, on Tuesday.

County Coun John Blackie presents the copy of the 300-year-old map to curator Helen Bainbridge and Friends of the Swaledale Museum. (S)

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