Alison’s detailed survey of the drystone walls around the High Close field was extended to include surrounding parliamentary enclosure walls and ancient township boundaries, to produce a fascinating study of boundaries, landscape management and the context of drystone walls within the Dales around Grassington. Her study is a valuable addition to the High Close project, focusing as it does upon this most evocative, yet in terms of academic study, relatively neglected of Dales features.
Starting with High Close itself, Alison guided us around the perimeter of this early enclosure, pointing out features which suggest possible prehistoric origins, medieval and early modern structures, and 19th Century repair work.
Above: A medieval wall sitting on the bank of an earlier, perhaps prehistoric boundary; the angular sandstone flags amongst the limestone boulders indicate extensive 18th-19th C repairs.
Above: An 18th Century enclosure wall - with much greater use of angular stone than in the medieval walls.
A nice example of a neat 19th century wall
Leaving High Close we explored the walls of the parliamentary enclosure of 1792 which were built to create some of the neighbouring fields. Along the way we had a look at Bare House, a large farmhouse which features in documentary evidence to at least the early 17th century, and is now sadly abandoned.
Crossing the old township boundary between Grassington and Conistone-with-Kilnsey, we eventually picked up the Dales Way and turned about to head back to Grassington, past the old lead mines and a couple of impressive large lime kilns.
Boz contemplates the significance of drystone walls within the context of the historic Dales landscape...
Please note: High Close is private land and there is no public access. However, the Dales Way and other footpaths pass through the area to the north and west of High Close, where walkers can see for themselves the changing nature of Dales drystone walls and boundaries.
Alison’s study of the walls has been submitted to the Yorkshire Dales Landscape Research Trust who are running the High Close project. For further information about the project see their website:
Jane Lunnon, UWHG