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Ravenstonedale DNA project

Ravenstonedale DNA project

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the article and data that initiated the Ravenstonedale  project

our project page on the Family Tree DNA website

Agriculture in Westmorland 1800-1900

If you have ancestors who lived in Ravenstonedale, it is almost certain that many of them will have lived and worked on one of the many farmsteads spread across this very large rural parish.  To gain some understanding of the sort of life your ancestors would have led, I recommend this book, which is freely available to read online at Archive.org


Here is an extract from the Introduction, to give you a flavour, along with a few of the illustrations from the book ....


“The narrow green patches of cultivated lands along the sides of the streams flowing through the smaller valleys of Langdale, Grasmere, Troutbeck, Kentmere and Longsleddale on the south, and Patterdale, Martindale, Mardale, Swindale, Wetsleddale, Mallerstang and Ravenstonedale on the north, and other smaller valleys too numerous to mention, are in striking contrast to the bare high hills, rough fells and moors and belts of coppice or scrubs of wood which immediately adjoin them, giving the county not only its distinctive physical features, but also its varied forms of agriculture.


Nicolson and Burn write : " There is no very great plenty of wood in this county ; it seems to have been industriously destroyed, to prevent its affording shelter to the Scotch invaders;" and Housman in 1800 says : " The most striking peculiarity in the general aspect of Westmorland is its great want of wood ; and the naked appearance is considerably increased by those numerous and extensive bleak moors which present themselves on all hands to the eye of the traveller."


To these agricultural features and the poorness of the soil generally in the county, is attributed the size of its ancient land measures, the customary acre containing 6760 square yards, as compared with 4840 square yards contained in an acre of statute measure. In the southern part of the county, bordering on Lancashire, the acre contained 7840 square yards, being the same as the Irish plantation acre—while two of the county miles equalled three statutory ones.


In the early years of the century as to-day, dotted here and there throughout the dales, in sheltered situations with their backs to the fells, were numerous small grey farm-houses, the homes of the statesmen and farmers, or clustered together to form the smaller villages or hamlets.”


Source: ‘Westmorland Agriculture 1800-1900” Frank W Garnett, MRCVS (Kendal 1912) – available online at Archive.org (free!)


westmorland dalesman thumb black swan inn thumb a westmorland dale farm thumb

a Westmorland Dalesman

A Westmorland Dales farm

The Black Swan in Ravenstonedale before 1906