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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

Life in Ravenstonedale

I plan to add a variety of articles, books and documents to this section, describing how life may have been for our Ravenstonedale ancestors.  If you can add documents, stories, images, etc., for inclusion in this section,  please send them to me (ideally in JPG, PDF or Word format).

The Ravenstonedale Sheep Dog Trials, September 1907

I bought the programme for this event on ebay, and  though I couldn't find a newspaper article setting out the results of the various competitions listed in the programme, I did come across a very interesting article, describing a similar event that took place in Threlkeld, Cumberland the same month, which may help those of you that don't remember the television series 'One Man and his Dog' to understand what sheepdog trials are all about!


Knitting in Ravenstonedale

According to Rev Nicholls in his 'History and Traditions of Ravenstonedale" (volume 1 printed in 1877), everyone in Ravenstonedale used to knit ... men, women and children. Apparently it was quite normal for a shepherd minding his sheep to occupy himself knitting stockings.  This short article explains the importance of knitting to the people of Ravenstonedale.


Agriculture in Westmorland 1800-1900

On this page you will find a link to a fascinating book which is available to read online at Archive.org, which describes the way of life for agricultural workers in Westmorland two hundred years ago, along with some of the illustrations from the book


Tarn House and Brownber

These were ancient homes of the FOTHERGILLs, and this short article by Cyril Harrington from a 1951 edition of 'The Dalesman' provides some background to their origins. The link will open a pdf document.



Poor Relief in Ravenstonedale

Before 1834, responsibility for the poor, sick and old was down to the local parish officials.  The financial burden was great and many strategies were put into place to prevent any poor arriving in the parish from elsewhere!  In Ravenstonedale, there are records showing a strategy adopted by the Grand Jury of Four and Twenty to manage the situation.  This link will take you to an article on the Adamthwaite Archive.


The Shepherd's Life: a tale of the Lake District

by James Rebanks

This fascinating account of a modern-day shepherd's daily life working with Herdwick and Swaledale flocks on the fells provides an understanding of how many of our Ravenstonedale ancestors could have spent their lives at various times of the farming year.  The author suggests that the traditional practices of fell-farming may have remained virtually unchanged for several thousand years.  An excellent read!! The link above takes you to a review in the Daily Telegraph (or you could look for a second hand copy at Abe Books)


History & Traditions of Ravenstonedale

by Rev W Nicholls

I mention this book regularly, but I must also warn you that copies are regularly for sale online which are OCR copies and are        NOT WORTH BUYING! - see this warning

On the left is a photo of the REAL books ...

The maroon one is a paperback which is an exact reproduction of the original Volume I which was published in 1996 by The Book House in Cumbria. Copies are still available from Books Cumbria (£5 + P+P)

The blue one (though I believe first editions are maroon!) is a hardback original copy of vol I, published in 1877 and available free online at Archive.org or in facsimile format as above

The green one is a hardback original copy of vol II, published by Abel Heywood, Manchester in about 1916 (the publication date is NOT shown on the book) and very occasionally available on ebay or at Abe Books (see above) at anything between £40 and £80.


'About Ravenstonedale': two articles extracted from The Monthly Magazine, both published in 1801 (Neither article is credited with the name of the author).  The articles describe all aspects of the parish and make very interesting reading, though in Part One, the author appears to me to be rather critical of the farming methods adopted (though as a Londoner, it is hard for me to judge .. if you can make a judgement based on practical knowledge, please do send me your views so I can publish them).  Part Two contains some fascinating details about the customs, landscape and wildlife as well as more background information on village life and the history of the Grammar School:


Read Part 1 of the above article


Read Part 2 of the above article

spinning gallery programme thumb a westmorland dale farm thumb Tarn House misc 19 thumb shepherds life cover history&traditions thumb Monthly Magazine cover