A Topographical Dictionary of Yorkshire
For the year 1822, by Thomas Langdale
Yorkshire Dictionary - Introduction:
YORKSHIRE (Called Eoforwicscire by the Saxons), in the time of the Ancient Britons, was inhabited by the Brigantes, whose territories included our present Counties of Cumberland, Durham, Lancashire, Westmorland, and Yorkshire. When the Emperor Constantine divided Britain into three parts, viz. Britannia Prima, Brittannia Secunda, and Maxima Caesariensis, this County was included in the last, and York was the Capital City of it. The Romans, in the construction of their Roads, evinced peculiar grandeur of design, patient labour, and persevering industry; but at what time they were first formed is now impossible to ascertain. Dr. Stukely supposes that Hermen-Street was the first, which he attributes to the time of Nero; but Horsley, with far more probability conjectures, that most of their roads were laid out by Agricola. A strong marked feature in the arrangement of all of them, is their continuance in a straight line, from which they seldom deviated, unless as in some cases, they were formed on part of a British Track-way, or some local impediment was found in the way, such a morass, or a deep ravine, &c. Their principal roads were of great breadth, and paved with large stones;, but where these could not readily be procured, gravel, lime, and other materials were substituted, and raised high above the soil, in some places to the height of eight or ten feet, and their durability greatly assisted by good drains. Camden, on the authority of Ulpian and Frontinus, says that the Romans gave the great Roads the names of Viae Consulares, Praetoriae, Militares, Publicae, Cursus Publici. They were unqestionably the public roads of those times, and distinguished from the common roads by being covered with better and more durable materials. They had, besides, minor or vicinal roads, leading from one station to another, which intersected the country in almost every direction. The four great military roads were distinguished from others at an early period, as the laws of Edward the Confessor comprehend regulations relative to the four great Highways, call Watling-Strete, Foss, Ikenield-Strete, and Ermine-Strete. From Tacitus we learn, that Agricola, anxious to communicate Roman customs to the Britons, instructed and assisted the "in building of houses, temples, courts, and market places; and by praising the industrious, and reproaching the indolent, he excited such an emulation among the Britons, that after they had constructed all those necessary edifices in their towns, they proceeded to build others merely for ornament and pleasure; as Porticos, Galleries, Baths, Banqueting Houses, &c" -- Vita Aric.
Many of the roads,after so many centuries have passed away, still, in numerous places, preserve their primeval form, though they have suffered much from the slow consuming hand of time, and the cupidity, not to say worse, of owners of lands, through which these roads passed. When the Saxons had settled themselves in this part of the Island, and divided it amongst their leaders into seven Kingdoms, Yorkshire was part of the Kingdom of Northumberland;, which being divided into two parts, Deira, and Bernicia, this county was under the government of the King of Deira, who, after a succession of six Kings of Bernicia, in the space of 27 years, became master of the whole; and continued until the West Saxons subdued the other six Kingdoms of the Saxons, and made the whole a Monarchy. Yorkshire is by far the largest county in the Kingdom, containing about 3,698,380 acres of land, with a population of 1,173,187 persons (in 1820). It is 130 miles long, from east to west, and 90 broad, from north to south, and 460 in circumference. It is bounded on the east by the German Ocean, on the south by Derby, Nottingham, and Lincolnshires; on the west by Lancashire, and a small part of Cheshire; and on the north by the counties of Durham and Westmorland. The North Riding is bounded by the river Tees on the north, which separates it from the county of Durham;, the German Ocean on the east;, the East Riding on the south-east; and by the Ainsty, and the West-Riding on the south; and the county of Wesmorland on the west. It is divided into 12 wapentakes, containing 5 boroughs, viz Richmond, Scarborough, Northallerton, Malton, and Thirsk. The East Riding in bounded on the east by the German Ocean; on the south by the Humber; on the west by the rivers Ouse and Derwent; and on the norht by the latter and the little river Hertford. It is divided into six wapentakes and Hullshire, containing three boroughs, viz. Beverley, Hedon and Hull. The West Riding is bounded on the east by the Ainsty and the river Ouse, which separates it from the East Riding; on the south by parts of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, on the west by parts of Cheshire, Lancashire and Westmorland; and on the north by the North Riding. It is divided into nine wapentakes, containing five boroughs, viz. Ripon, Pontefract, Boroughbridge, Aldborough and Knaresborough. The whole county contains thirteen boroughs and one city, which sends twenty eight Members to Parliament, and two Knights of the Shire. The Ainsty*, accounted a twentieth part of the county at large, is a district on the west side of York, under the jurisdiction of the Lord-Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs of the city, to which it was annexed the 27th of Henry VI. though before it was a wapentake of the West Riding, and has ever since been called the county of the city of York. The whole district was anciently a forest, but dis-forested by Charters of King Richard the 1st, and King John.
* Ainsty, from Ancientcy, to denote its Antiquity; or more probably from the German word, Antossen, implying a bound, or limit, -- Camden.
Transcribed by Colin Hinson © 2007
Langdale's Yorkshire Dictionary
by Colin Hinson © 2007