ILKLEY, a parish-town, in the upper-division of Skyrack; 6 miles WNW. of Otley and Keighley, 9 from Skipton, 34 from York. Pop. 496. The Church is a vicarage, dedicated to All-Saints (see Churches for photograph), in the deanry of Craven, value, ~£7. 13s. 9d. p.r. !£56. 1s. 6d. Patron, George Hartley, Esq.
This is a very ancient town, and known to antiquaries as the Olicana, of the Romans; it was built in Severus's time, by Virius Lupus, Legate, and Propraetor of Britain, as appears from an inscription dug up near the Church, and given in Camden's Britan:-
AVG ET ANTONINVII
RANTE VIRIO LVPO.
LEG. EORVM PR. PR.
That the second* Cohort of the Lingones quartered here, is also attested by an old Altar which Camden saw here, inscribed by the Captain of the second* Cohort of the Lingones to Verbeia, perhaps the Goddess of the river Wharfe. This Altar, by a long and unfortunate exposure to the weather, is become illegible, and is at Middleton Lodge. The fortress itself, of which the outline on three sides is very entire, was placed on a steep and lofty bank, having the river Wharfe on the north, and the deep channel of a brook immediately on the east and west. The southern boundary seems to have coincided with the present street, and the hall and parish church were evidently included within it. The foundations of the fortress bedded in indissoluble mortar, are very conspicuous, and remains of Roman brick, glass, and earthenware, every where, appear on the edges or the brow.
Olicana had its summer camps and out posts, which appear on the surrounding heights at Castleberg, near to which has been found an urn with ashes; and a massy key of copper, nearly two feet in length; which had probably been the key of the gates; Counterhill, and Woofa Bank; at Counterhill are two encampments, on different sides of the hill; one in the township of Addingham, and the other in the parish of Kildwick. When the area of Woofa Bank was broken up, it was found to contain great numbers of rude fire places, constructed of stone, and filled with ashes.
A few years ago, a sepulchral inscription was discovered in a garden wall at Ilkley, by the Rev. Mr. Carr, in whose possession it now remains, commemorating the death of Pudens Jesseus.
The Church contains nothing remarkable, but the tomb of Sir Adam de Middleton, mentioned by Camden, which, though it has been repeatedly displaced for the successive interments of the family, is yet entire. Dr. Whitaker supposes, that the three ancient Saxon Crosses, wrought in frets, scrolls, knots, &c. which Camden conjectured to be Roman, were early objects of religious reverence, and to have some allusion to the mystery of the Holy Trinity. --Camden. -- (see Churches for photograph).
This village is much frequented during the summer months, for the benefit of its cold Bath, near the village, which has proved highly beneficial in relaxed and scrofolous cases. Dr. Hunter published an Analysis of the Water in 1820.
Here is a Free Grammar School, built by the parishioners, and endowed, in 1601, by George Marshall, late of Ilkley; also in 1701, by Reginald Heber, Esq. of the Inner Temple, London.
* The book states the first cohort, but this is believed to be incorrect, however "Ilkley Ancient and modern" by Colley and Turner states "another reading gives first".
[Description(s) edited from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson © 2013]