Bordley Township Project

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Over the years, many dedicated local historians, interested amateurs and locals have surveyed the area around Bordley and beyond, collecting flints, noting earthworks and cairns, discovering and recording archaeological features and generally keeping historical oral tradition alive.


Today we are able to build on this knowledge as we have the benefit of being able to utilise modern technology to look at the area from above and make some interpretation for further study. Aerial photography has made it possible to seethe area from in the wider countryside context, picking out features not visible or comprehensible at ground level.


The Bordley area has not been subject to any excavation therefore the features of potential archaeology can only be interpreted by localised knowledge of the area, appearance above ground of any upstanding remains, historical land usage and field names, and chance finds from field walking.  Geophysical surveying can assist in giving a non intrusive indication of ‘anomalies’ but of course it is best suited to a reasonably small and accessible area and for our area and for our project this is likely to be in the lower areas around Bordley Hall farm.


We know the earliest evidence of man’s interest in our area is recovered in the form of flints used as tools such as blades, scrapers, and projectiles, possibly heralding the arrival of the first farmers of the Neolithic period over 6 -7000years ago.  An agricultural lifestyle would require settlement nearby and small clusters of enclosures such as that at grid ref SD934672 may have housed our early farmers and/or their animals. We are yet to determine any structure as a definite habitation as it is not until the Iron Age that housing may have been substantial enough to leave any above ground remains. There is also the possibility that a house or hut site was handed down through the ages and successively rebuilt on, leaving only the foundations of the last structure visible to us.


Stone circles are another feature which occurs on the perimeter of our project area. These may simply be stone clearance by farmers but it is also possible that they could have housed a burial or cremation remains. In one or two areas there are groupings of stones formed in a roughly circular alignment and these require surveying and recording to allow further analysis.


Mastiles Lane is a very strong presence in our area and although much attributed to being a monastic way, it may well have pre-existed as a track way well back into the prehistoric period and certainly was in existence at the time of Romanisation.  From a prehistoric prospect Bordley must be viewed in conjunction with the areas adjoining, such as Malhamdale, Kilnsey and Grassington as it is highly unlikely that anything happened at Bordley in isolation of the other areas.  The higher ground above Bordley has long been a droving route and management and farming of animals over the millennia has been a primary occupation in the hills and lowland areas.


To further increase our knowledge of the Bordley prehistory we intend to do the following:

  • Have a discovery session at Skipton and Grassington Museums to locate any flints finds from                     Bordley

  • Investigate any prehistoric pottery finds

  • Investigate any available documentation regarding excavation activity either recently or by ‘Philosophical Societies’ in early 20thc.

  • Survey and collate a record of features found by the group on Discovery Walks for further analysis

  • Build on localised knowledge from the farming community and residents

  • Look at parallels found in  the wider area and compare

  • Feedback findings to the project community


We would encourage anyone of any ability to assist us in this work. No matter how small a contribution, please contact Janis for more information.

Finally we offer our thanks to all the members of the Bordley farming community for there kind help in giving us access to their land and buildings and for the information so kindly offered.


Debbie Hallam

August 2009

Bordley Township -The Prehistory