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Kilnsey Research Project

Abstract - see also the detailed reports below

The Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group have carried out a project studying the Kilnsey Township.

In spite of its popularity as a tourist attraction, Kilnsey has received only limited investigation by archaeologists and historians in the past, but for four centuries there was an important monastic grange of Fountains Abbey in Kilnsey which controlled the extensive grazing lands of the Abbey’s western estates acquired by 1150.  This included much of the neighbouring 1area.

As well as the administrative grange complex, there were a number of monastic farms in Kilnsey.


An exploratory walk in 2013 by UWHG members also revealed evidence of arable furlongs, lynchets,  a net work of track ways, holloways and monastic roads, (including Mastiles Lane), a number of vernacular buildings which reflect the "great rebuilding" of the 17thC, and evidence of buildings prior to this, in the re-use of cruck timbers.


There is also evidence of mineral extraction, including lead mining and smelting; limestone quarrying and lime burning; peat extraction etc on the moors above and also much prehistoric evidence.

We have previously carried out studies, focussing on the on the Town Piece area This has included site surveys (2006), the excavation of a post medieval clamp limekiln (2007) in conjunction with Ingleborough Archaeology Group and a corn drying kiln (2008).

More recently members of UWHG have begun to survey and record some of the barns and houses in the village, building on recent exploratory surveys. This focus on the vernacular buildings will be followed by further investigation into the tracks, roads and holloways and show how they linked to known mediaeval roads in the area; the lynchets, fields and boundary walls; the evidence for monastic woodland and its management;  and the extractive industries. Underlying this work will be an exhaustive study of the documentary archive of Kilnsey

Detailed reports

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