Malham is located in Craven in the southern part of Yorkshire Dales National Park, about ten miles from Skipton. It is a popular tourist destination today, famous for its spectacular limestone scenery including Malham Cove, Gordale Scar and Janet’s Foss. Archaeological evidence reveals people have been attracted to the area since Mesolithic times, when flints were left by nomadic hunters near Malham Tarn. Later, Neolithic settlers established clearings for the grazing of animals and cultivation. Bronze and Iron Age settlements, field systems and lynchets for cultivating land on poor soils are still visible in the landscape.
Ancient burial mounds include Seaty Hill on Malham Moor,[i] where a flute, fashioned from a sheep-bone, was found, believed to date from the Iron Age.
Field systems near Malham Cove
Hut circles are evident near the Cove, including the large Comb Scar hut circle excavated by Arthur Raistrick, near Watlowes.[ii]
Near Gordale is another Iron Age settlement. [iii] Raistrick conducted extensive fieldwork in the Dales in the middle of the last century, including in Malham village and its hinterland, although his work is now being reassessed. A Roman camp straddles Mastiles Lane on the way to Kilnsey and Wharfedale. Recently evidence of an Anglo-Saxon settlement near Middle House on Malham Moor has been discovered by Dr David Johnson[iv] .
[i] Raistrick, A & Holmes P F (1962) ‘The Archaeology of Malham Moor’ Field Studies. Vol. 1, 73-100.
Raistrick, A, Spaul, E A & Todd, E (1952) ‘The Malham Iron–Age Pipe’ Galpin Society Journal, Vol. 5, 28-38.
[ii] Raistrick, A & Holmes P F (1962) ‘The Archaeology of Malham Moor’ Field Studies, Vol. 1, 73-100
[iii] See Stuart Gledhill’s quadcopter flight over the settlement and field systems:
[iv] David Johnson: Report forthcoming.