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KIRKDALE

KIRKDALE, a parish in the wapentake of Rydale; 2 miles W. of Kirkbymoorside.

The church belonging to this village, is situated in the southern extremity of this vale, in a most sequestered but beautiful spot, surrounded with woods, and has been much noticed, on account of a very ancient Saxon inscription over the south door, which may be thus translated :- Orm, Gamal's son, bought St. Gregory's church, when it was all gone to ruin and fallen down; and he agreed with Maccan, to renew it from the ground to Christ and St. Gregory, in Edward's days, the king; and Tosti's days, the Earl. This is a draught exhibiting the time of the day, while the sun is passing too and from the winter solstice. Hawarth me made, and Brand the priest." This inscription fixes the antiquity of the church. Tosti or Tasti, the fourth son of Godwin Earl of Kent, and brother of King Harold, was created Earl of Northumberland by Edward the Confessor, in the year 1056, and fell at the battle of Stamford Bridge, in 1066, so that the erection of this church was antecedent to the Norman Conquest, a thing so rare, that there are not above three or four churches of so ancient a date in the kingdom. The living of Kirkdale, after passing through a variety of patrons, came into possession of Henry Danvers, Esq. Earl of Danby, who gave it to the University of Oxford, about the year 1632, when he founded the Physic Garden there. The incumbent is the Rev. George Dixon.

The Cave of Kirkdale. The fossil remains of the hyaena and other animals have been found in a cave or fissure at this place; in the year 1820, Professor Buckland examined this interesting spot with great care, and communicated the result of his inquiries to the Royal Society of London. The Professor reports that the cave extends 300 feet into a solid white rock, and varies from 2 feet to 5 feet in height and breadth. Its bottom is covered with a layer, about a foot thick, of mud, which is partially encrusted with calcsinter (old word for "calcite" - Ch 1997). It is in this mud that the fossil animal remains are found imbedded. The bones are in a nearly fresh state, still retaining their animal gelatin. They are mostly broken and gnawed in pieces, and are intermixed with teeth. The fossil remains found by Professor Buckland were of the following animals, viz. hyaena, elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, deer, ox, and water rat; the four first belong to species now extinct, but of the others nothing is said. It is evident that animals having the magnitude of the elephant or rhinoceros could not enter a fissure so low and narrow as that at this place; and it appears probable that these bones could not have been floated into the fissure by means of water, otherwise they would not only have suffered by attrition, but would be intermixed with sand or gravel; They must therefore have been transported thither in some other way, and the professor conjectures that they were carried -n for food by the hyaenas, who appear to have been the sole inhabitants of the den.

[Description(s) edited mainly from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson. ©2010]