Archive‎ > ‎Archived News‎ > ‎


posted 16 Jan 2010, 10:01 by Paul Brayford   [ updated 19 Mar 2010, 06:37 ]

Yorkshire Sledges and Sledways

For its first open meeting of 2010, Northallerton & District Local History Society will give the floor to its recently elected chairman, John Parkinson. John is a geologist with an abiding interest in how, over the centuries, man has utilized the Earth's natural resources.

Northallerton is on the glacial till of the Vale of Mowbray where the only mineral readily available for building is clay, which was not used for making bricks locally until the late 16th century.

Yet before then prestigious structures in the town, such as the Bishop of Durham's castle and the Carmelite friary, had been constructed of sandstone blocks, many of which can still be seen reused in modern buildings.  Where did the mediaeval masons obtain that stone and how was it brought to a town lacking a navigable waterway?  Although sledges must have been the poor man's beast of burden, no earlier researcher appeared to have tackled this subject and, intrigued by this puzzle, John determined to solve it himself.

Combining diligent documentary and field research, Mr Parkinson has identified both the long-disused quarries where the stone was roughly shaped and the carefully engineered inclines down which the blocks were moved by sledge before being transported by cart.  He is now able to make the first public presentation outlining his exciting discovery of the sledways, previously lost to history, which enabled building sandstone to be used for construction in a town lacking direct access to stone.  He now believes that many similar features lie overgrown and hidden throughout Yorkshire.

This illustrated talk promises to shine an exciting new light on the development of the county town in relation to its hinterland.  It will take place at the Sacred Heart Church Hall on Thirsk Road, Northallerton, where limited parking is available, at 7 pm on Tuesday 19 January.

Non-members are welcome to attend for £2 and schoolchildren will be admitted free.  The society's 2010 programme will be available for collection and there will be the opportunity to join the society for the year.