Swaledale vernacular buildings

The photo shows a clear thatch line on the gable end of this house in High Fremington, indicating that when first built the house was thatched. This is consistent with the deeds which give the date of construction around 1640. Locally heather known as ‘ling’ was used for thatching. The thatch line shows that the roof was steeper than today to allow the water to run off, limiting the height of the first floor, if any. There might well have been only a sleeping platform above the living room, accessible by a ladder. Subsequently the walls were raised and a stone slate roof put on at a shallower pitch, enabling a first floor to be inserted. This was probably done in the late 18th or early 19thC.

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Ancient trackway

This ancient cobbled trackway runs from Reeth Bridge, through High Fremington to join what is now the Reels Head road to Richmond. It was probably the route east out of Swaledale for centuries and perhaps millennia since just beyond here is the small Iron Age enclosed settlement of Ewelop Hill. The local tradition that this was Roman road is not as far-fetched as some might think!

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