Sunday 16 August 2009

Treasures from the Northern Moors

Let me introduce you to some of my favourite pleasures. Here is one of my favourite samplers from the Reeth Museum in Swaledale. It could well be a local Quaker sampler but we have as yet to trace the school. Swaledale is the most northern dale or valley in Yorkshire and stills bears the imprint of Norse conquests in times long past. (The Vikings came to the valley circuitously by way of Ireland and the Lake District). The very word Dale comes from North European Taal and the valley has more tangible evidence too of those origins, the valley bottom is dotted with distinctive remains of old barns, themselves the remains of land tenure under a Norse sytem of land inheritance. Many of the dialect words I grew up with can still be heard in Oslo today.

The landscape you can see here has my heart engraved deeply into it. This the limestone of upper Airedale. Here is good walking in most weathers, but you have to watch for the deep clints and grykes on the limestone pavements which can snap an ankle in a rigid boot in less time it takes to cry warning. Deep in the crevasses you find beautiful hartshorn ferns and shade-loving plants. It is here that rain is filtered, disappearing into swallow hole cisterns to re-emerge as the River Aire which powered the woolen industry and formed the character and substance of my home town and my ancestors, nearly all of whom were spinners or weavers. If ever you want to find me, you will be certain to find me here.


  1. I absolutely love everything on this blog! I love the pictures and the history behind all the parts of the UK you post here. I was born in Surrey but immigrated to North America with my family when I was 3. I try to keep up with some of the history, but UK has such a long and broad one, it is difficult. Besides, you can't find any of this in a history book. Thank you so much for all the wonderful pictures and information from all over the world that I read here....... I love it all!!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your samplers and pictures of your homeland. It is just is my fondest desire to be able to see England, Ireland, and Scotland someday. I just got all my threads for the Ackworth School sampler but I am having trouble finding 32 count fabric in my town so I will have to order it. I can't wait to get started. I am going to try a small sample on a larger count that I already have. I haven's cross-stitched in years and thanks to you and your wonderful website I have been inspired to start again...Thank you very much for all your hard work and your kind sharing...

  3. It's too easy to take our local area for granted, so it's really nice to see someone appreciating it for what it is. North Yorkshire is a beautiful part of the world, though in my totally unbiased opinion, Co. Durham and Northumberland, just to the north of where you are, are even better! The fact that that's where I'm from is neither here nor there...

  4. So glad I found you,very interesting to see different textiles.

  5. You may not remember the folk singer Jake Thakeray, but he composed a song called 'Go Little Swale' and the chorus is so appropriate, I would like to quote it here:-

    Go, lowly Swale: go headlong down,
    Down through your stony-faced meadows,
    Your scowling hills, your crouching towns.
    Go, little Swale, and I follow.

    He goes on to sing about 'taciturn hill farmers''pinafored women' and 'po-faced sheep'.

    Isn't it just so right? I was in Leyburn and Reeth on Saturday and sang the chorus with gusto to my bemused sister. Good job we were in the car!!

    I love to read your blog. Thank you for reminding us what we have here - and the sewing is quite nice too!

  6. I love your comments and verse - that is brilliant (I shall have to learn the tune so I can sing it as I stroll along to Reeth from Muker!). I know what you mean about Northumbria - it is certainly God's own country. But inexplicably my heartstrings are inextricably tied up round my birthplace and secured with lavish bow!