2 Million BC to 900 AD

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2 million BC

The ground on which the village stands was once a tropical forest.  Because of continental drift the land itself once lied much further south in the tropics and moved to its present position as a result of crust movement.  Even after this movement climate was very different in glacial and inter-glacial periods caused by variation in the earth's orbit and activity of the Sun.  Only a few miles away at Kirkdale is a cave where fossils of hyena, bear, lion, tiger, wolf, fox, weasel, elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus and three types of deer were found.  These date 80,000 to 90,000 years before present day in a warm period between ice ages.  Kirkdale is in fact the most productive fossil cavern in Britain.



Kirkdale Cave c.1947


25,000 BC

A huge ice sheet had covered the North Sea.  It blocked the natural direction of drainage and a lake formed.  Lake Pickering stretched stretched from Gilling in the west to Sherburn in the east sediment built up which we walk on today.  At one point the waters of the lake lapped the entrance to Kirkdale cave.  When the ice started to melt the lake overflowed creating Kirkham Gorge.  Left behind in the debris was rich boulder clay, later augmented by sand, gravel and silt deposits, which the farmers of today can thank for the crops they raise.


There were humans around at this time.  They had made their way across the land bridge from the rest of Europe they made camps on high ground, but led a nomadic life.


8000 BC

Britain becomes an island when the last ice age closes and sea levels rise.  Starr Carr , a site excavated near Seamer, was probably a seasonal hunting camp around this time.


4000 BC

There is some evidence to indicate that some nomads began to farm and build more permanent settlements.  An increase in fossil evidence of dung beetles indicates higher numbers of cattle. It is believed that the forest cover started to be cut to form clearings.  The present appearance of the North York moors relates to human activity removing woodland.


3000 BC

Stonehenge is built. Similar structures were symbols of ownership, beacons in the landscape saying ‘this land is taken’.


2000 BC

Bronze Age Celts occupied the area.  Their religious leaders were druids. Their print can still be found in some of the names in the district.  The name of the River Dove is of Celtic origin. Normanby lay in the area controlled by the Brigantes, a confederation of tribes who occupied the area between the Humber and the Scottish border.  To the East the land was occupied by the Parisi who constructed distinctive square barrows, occasionally containing chariots of the aristocracy.


43 AD

The Romans led by Emperor Claudius came to Britain.  They built monumental civil engineering works like Hadrian’s Wall.  From the fort at Malton, an early military base, a road was constructed to Cawthorne camps in the north where the soldiers practised military techniques.  This road passed by Normanby.


The ‘Hollows Medallion’.

 Malton was occupied by the Romans until the fifth century, even after the abandonment of Scotland.  Some kings and chiefs resisted the Romans. Boudicca, the famous Saxon Queen, fought battles close by.  When one of her followers dropped a medallion in the grass little did he know that it would remain untouched and well preserved for almost 2000 years when in 1975 Vince Hollows, a local farmer saw it glinting in one of the fields of Riseborough Hagg farm.  It is a medallion for a person or possibly a horse, dated in the first century AD.  The British Museum has compared it to similar finds known as the Stanwick hoard of Boroughbridge near where Boudicca has been chronicled as fighting battles with the Roman invaders.  It is in amazingly good condition, and was exhibited in the year 2000 exhibition.  From 208 to 211 the emperor of the Roman Empire, Septimus Severus, lived close by at York from where he ruled his vast domain.


300 AD

In the third century Christianity reached Britain. Oxen started to be used for ploughing and this was the case case for 300 years.  In 367 Roman Britain was assailed on all sides.  Picts invaded from the North, Irish from the West and Saxons landed on the North Sea coast.  Within 40 years Britain was no longer under Roman control.


500 AD

The Angles and Saxons, which originated around the River Elbe in Germany and later spread to the coast between Jutland and the Rhine Delta, settled in the area.  Yorkshire became part of the kingdom of Deira which was within the Danelaw granted in 878 by King Alfred who had control of the rest of the country.  The Celts retreated west and kept their religion but the rest of the land was heathen.


900 AD

ULF'S Horn-on display in York Minster Treasury

Yorkshire began to be over-run by the Vikings. York was captured in 866.  Danish place names appeared ending in 'by'.


Ulf was a sub-king of Deira.  He was the brother-in-law of King Canute owning vast tracts of land, including some around Edstone.  When he became Christian he gave large portions of land to St. Peters church at York where York Minster now stands.  At the time, the custom when conveying land title was to give over a drinking horn. Ulf's horn is one of the treasures of York Minster.  It was made at Salerno in Italy from elephant tusk and has carvings of mystical animals which look like griffins.  Silver fittings were added in the 17th century by Thomas Mangy of York.



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