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Study Tour to Yorkshire

1 to 6 November


Monday, 1 November

Pick up at Madame Tussauds, Marylebone Rd
Repton Church and Viking overwintering site of 873

St. Wystan's Church is justly famous for its Anglo-Saxon crypt. The crypt was built in the 8th century and was constructed over a spring, which means that its original function might have been a baptistry.

It was later converted into a mausoleum for King Æthelbald of Mercia before his death in 757. Later, King Wiglaf (died 839) and his grandson Saint Wigstan (died c.849) were buried there.. After the burial of Wigstan, the crypt became a place of pilgrimage

In 873 the Viking Great Army overwintered in Repton. Having taken over the church the Vikings constructed a huge D-shaped enclosure. One side of this enclosure was defended by the river Trent, the other sides were defended by earthworks. The tower of the Anglo-Saxon church was used as a gatehouse.

Roche Abbey

Roche Abbey was founded in the 12th century as a Cistercian monastery. In its heyday it housed 50 monks and 100 lay brothers, although it was modest in size compared to Rievaulx or Byland Abbey.

The abbey was supressed in 1538, and most of the buildings were dismantled. However, the early Gothic transepts still survive to their original height.

In the 18th century, the surrounding area was landscape by 'Capability' Brown and the excavated foundations of the monastery are exposed.

Arrive Selby

Tuesday, 2 November

Selby Abbey

Selby Abbey was founded by Benedict of Auxerre in 1069, and was constructed by the de Lacy family.

In 1256 the Abbey was bestowed with the grant of a Mitre by Pope Alexander IV and thus became a "Mitred Abbey". It lost this distinction a number of times, but its status was confirmed by Archbishop William Greenfield, and Selby remained a "Mitred Abbey"until until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Selby Abbey now functions as the Parish church and is thus one of the relatively few surviving abbey churches of the medieval period.

St Oswald's Church, Lythe

There has been a church at Lythe since at least the 13th century, although the present building is the result of extensive renovations in 1769, 1819, and 1910.

During the work on the tower in the early 20th century, a number of Anglo-Scandinavian carved stones were discovered, A selection of these stones are now displayed in a permanent exhibition, and the remaining stones are stored in the modern crypt.

It is obvious from these stones that there was an important Viking Age cemetery here, and it has been suggested that the churchyard contains some graves dating as far back as the 10th century.

Helmsley Castle

Helmsley was granted to Robert, Count of Mortain after the Norman conquest, but there is no evidence that he built a castle here. In 1120 Walter l'Espec contructed an earthwork and timber castle at Helmsley. This had double ditches surrounding a rectangular inner bailey.

In 1186 Robert de Ros started work on the stone castle. He built two main towers, the round corner towers and the main gateway on the south side of the castle before his death in 1227. The castle passed to his older son William, who built the chapel in the courtyard.

After William's death in 1258, his son, Robert inherited the castle. He built the new hall and kitchen, and strengthened the castle - which may have included the south barbican which was constructed between 1227 and 1285. He also constructed a wall dividing the castle into north and south sides, with the southern half for the private use of the lord's family.

All Saint's Church Helmsley

A church at Helmsley was recorded in the Domesday Book, although the present church was constructed in the 12th century, and has later alterations, including considerable rebuilding between 1866 and 1869.

The early Christian presence at Helmsley is shown by a surviving Viking Age hogback stone which is held in the porch.

Wednesday, 3 November

St James' Church, Nunburnholme

The church has a Norman Nave and an Early English chancel both, alas thoroughly restored 1872 - 3. The west tower was rebuilt 1901 - 2.

However, it is not the church itself, that is the glory of this place, but the Anglo-Scandinavian cross shaft in the sanctuary. Pevsner describes it as "the most elaborate figural cross shaft in the East Riding". It was discovered when the south porch was demolished in 1872. It dates from the late 9th - early 10th centuries and displays a splendid seated warrior holding a Viking sword.

The village takes its name from a priory of Benedictine nuns which was situated at the opposite end of the village to the church. Now, only earthworks remain.

Kirkham Priory

The Augustinian Priory of Kirkham is situated on the banks of the River Derwent, and was founded by Walter l'Espec in the 1120's. The priory was surrendered in 8 December 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The church and much of the cloisters exist as foundations, although the dorter and frater, together with the lavabo have survived to a greater extent.

The Gatehouse of Kirkham Priory was built c.1290-95 and it is a remarkable example of Gothic architecture. It features a number of sculptures including St.George and the Dragon on the left, and David and Goliath to the right.

St Gregory's Minster

The remarkable Saxon sundial on the church commemorates the rebuilding of the ruined church in c.1055. The inscription on the sundial reads as follows:


Orm Gamal suna bohte Sanctus Gregorius Minster ðonne hit wæs æl tobrocan and tofalan and he hit let macan newan from grunde Christe and Sanctus Gregorius in Eadward dagum cyning and in Tosti dagum eorl.

"Orm son of Gamal bought St Gregory's Minster when it was all ruined and collapsed and he caused it to be made new from the ground for Christ and St. Gregory in the days of Edward the King and in the days of Tosti the eorl."

Cathedral Church of St Peter and St Wilfrid, Ripon

The original church here was founded as a monastery by Scottish monks in the 660s, and refounded as a Benedictine monastery by St Wilfrid in 672. The seventh-century crypt of Wilfrid's church is an extremely important survival and may be compared with the crypt in Wilfrid's church at Hexham.

The present church is the fourth building here. A pre-Conquest minster was destroyed in 1069 during William's harrying of the north. Thomas of Bayeux, the first Norman Archbishop of York ,built a third church, traces of which were incorporated into the 12th century minster built by Archbishop Roger de Pont l'Evêque.

Thursday, 4 November

Aldborough Roman Site

Isurium Brigantum, one of the northernmost urban centres of the Roman Empire was probably founded in the late first century or early second and was the administrative centre of the area.

Part of the Stone fortification remains visible, the rest of the structure can be seen as earthworks. There are two in situ Mosaics and a small museum on the site.

The Devil's Arrows

The Devil's Arrows are three standing stones in a NNW-SSE alignment. The tallest stone is 6.85 m high, the others being 6.7 m and 5.5 m. The stones are part of a wider Neolithic complex on the Ure-Swale plateau which incorporates the Thornborough Henges.

William Camden mentions four stones in his Britannia, noting that "one was lately pulled downe by some that hoped, though in vaine, to finde treasure."

Thornborough Henges

The Thornborough Henges are an unusual ancient monument complex comprising three henges and a cursus.

The cursus is the oldest part of the complex. It is almost a mile long, running from Thornborough Village under the central henge and ending close to the River Ure. The three henges are almost identical in size each being approximately 240 metres in diameter. The henges are located c.550 m apart on an approximate northwest-southeast alignment

Excavation of the central henge has suggested that its banks were covered with locally mined gypsum.

Richmond Castle

Following William's harrying of the north, the borough of Richmond was given to Alan Rufus, of Brittany. He constructed a castle, which was in the form of a stone-built first floor hall, similar to the earliest phase of Chepstow Castle.

At the end of the 12th century Duke Conan IV of Brittany built a 30 m high keep, which unusually sits over the gatehouse.

In 1158 the Earldom of Richmond was seized by Henry II, who strengthened the castle by adding towers and a barbican.

Friday, 5 November

Stamford Bridge

Stamford Bridge was the site of the "other" battle of 1066 when King Harold Godwinson and the English army fought against an invading Norwegian force led by King Harald Hardrada and Harold's brother Tostig Godwinson.

It is difficult to pinpoint the site of the battle, but as we pass through the town on our way to Duggleby Howe, we will make a brief stop. The famous inn sign recalls a legend that the bridge was held by a Viking swordsman who fought off all commers until an Anglo-Saxon crept under the bridge and stabbed him from below.

Duggleby Howe

Duggleby Howe is one of the largest round barrows in Britain, being 37 m in diameter. At some time in the past the top of the mound was levelled and at one time was used as the siting for a medieval post mill.

The barrow is set within a roughly circular enclosure, c. 370 m in diameter, which is formed from interrupted ditches, and is open to the south.

East of the barrow are two ring ditches, probably dating to the Bronze Age. One ring ditch is within the enclosure, the other is outside.

Rudston Monolith

The Rudston monolith is the tallest prehistoric standing stone in Britain, measuring almost 8 metres high, nearly 2 metres wide, a metre thick and estimated to weigh c.26 tons.

It is thought to have been quarried more than 10 miles away in the Cayton Bay area south of Scarborough, although the glacial transportation of a large block of stone that was then later utilised is also possible.

Danes' Dyke Sewerby

Danes' Dyke runs for 4km across the whole of the Flamborough Headland. The bank was constructed from earth, stacked turfs and chalk rubble, much of which would have come from the ditch.

Despite its name, Danes Dyke has no known association with the Vikings and is generally thought to be of prehistoric date.

The Priory Church of St Mary, Bridlington

The priory for Augustinian Canons Regular was founded c.1113 by Walter de Gant and is one of the earliest Augustinian houses in England. The site had formerly been a Saxon church and nunnery, and the newly formed priory had an adjoining convent.

The priory was favoured by royalty and nobility and soon owned lands across Yorkshire. King Stephen granted that the priory should have the right to have the property of felons and fugitives within the town and proceeds from the harbour.

The priory was dissolved in 1538 and the church is now the parish church.

Cawthorn Roman Camp

The monument includes the remains of two Roman forts, one of which has an attached annexe, a Roman camp and a section of medieval trackway. The whole complex is visible as a series of well preserved earthworks.

There are three major elements to the site: a camp of unusual polygonal design overlain by a later fort which is probably datable to the late first century AD and, to the east, a simple fort with an eastern annexe. The westernmost fort is typically square in shape with rounded corners and measures 175m across overall and is orientated north-east by south-west.

In earlier studies this group of sites was interpreted as a group of training and practice camps, although recent re-evaluation of the evidence suggests that permanent occupation of the main forts is more likely.

Saturday, 6 November

Leave Selby
Torksey: The Viking overwintering site of 872-3

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that, in the winter of 872-3 AD, the Viking Great Army overwintered at Turcesige. It was assumed that this was at the site of the modern village of Torksey on the River Trent.

Recent work led by Dawn Hadley and Julian Richards has precisely located the overwintering site which is spread over six fields, north of the modern village and east of the Trent.

The nature of the camp and its extent present a marked contrast to the overwintering site at Repton that we visited on day one.

The Jewry Wall

The Jewry Wall is the substantial ruined wall of the 2nd-century Roman baths which were discovered by chance in 1936 when a factory was demolished to build a new swimming baths.

The wall lies immediately to the west of St Nicholas' Church, which includes in its late Saxon and early medieval fabric considerable amounts of reused Roman brick and masonry.

Amazingly, analysis of the Saxon stonework in Brixworth Church, Northampton show that quantities of stone had been transported 32 miles from the Jewry Wall to Brixworth.

Braybrooke Castle

Despite its name, Braybrooke Castle was not a castle proper, but a fortified medieval manor house. The site is first mentioned in the mid 12th century. Documents from c.1200 mention fishponds already in use, there is a record of timber for building workin 1213 and and a garden in 1292.

In 1304 Thomas de Latimer was granted a licence to strengthen his manor house at Braybrooke and documentary sources indicate that the moated house was constructed at this time.

All that is visible on the site today is the platform on which the manor house stood and the remains of both large and small fish ponds which served the manor.

Arrive London Baker Street