The following article appeared in the Yorkshire Times today:
Yorkshire first appears in written records in 1055. In the Anglo-Saxon chronicle in 876AD, the Danish King Healfdene “shared out the Northumbrian lands”. Whether this was in fact the birth of Yorkshire is unknown but it dates Yorkshire at somewhere between 957 and 1,136 years old. And even if it hasn’t reached adolescence yet, somebody needs to give it boundaries.
From York at its centre three distinct hilly areas can be seen, the northern moors, the Wolds to the east and the Pennines to the west. The Viking word “thrithing”, a third, was given to each of these – now the famous three Ridings.
In 1974 it was decided that the 39 counties of England should remain. In addition to creating new regions for administrative purposes, it was decreed that the new administrative regions would also be called counties, and thus county confusion was firmly established.
Humberside, which was the most hated of these “new counties”, was created – then finally abolished 22 years later, although further county confusion was to replace it.
The East Riding of Yorkshire Council was established to administer parts of the East Riding of Yorkshire, but Hull and areas east of York were excluded and parts of the West Riding included. In the East Riding we now have road signs welcoming visitors to the East Riding of Yorkshire when leaving Hull; ten miles east of York and six miles inside the West Riding!
Historically our Yorkshire boundary is defined by geographical features. The three Ridings are divided by the rivers of the Derwent, the Ouse and the Ure. To the north the river Tees separates Yorkshire from Durham. In the west the watershed of the Pennines forms the Yorkshire boundary with Westmorland, Lancashire, Cheshire and Derbyshire. In the south the Humber and Trent forms the boundary with Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. The North Sea completes our 600 mile boundary in the east.
Many of our children can tell us how many states there are in the USA and even name the states of Australia, but how many will know the number of counties there are in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales? How many Yorkshire folk know where our Yorkshire boundary is?
There is a decline in Yorkshire’s cultural identity in many areas:
- BBC Yorkshire, those modern arbiters of local culture, refer to North, South, East and West Yorkshire even though South, East and West Yorkshire are defunct administrative areas.
- The regional administrative authority, North Yorkshire Council, does not cover the northern-most parts of Yorkshire.
- You would expect Welcome To Yorkshire to use a map of Yorkshire, but they don’t.
- Even Tesco have a map of Yorkshire in all their Yorkshire stores – which isn’t of Yorkshire.
Perhaps for the sake of our cultural heritage, if nothing else, we need to try and establish a definitive map of Yorkshire.
We welcome comments from interested readers to help us establish a definitive map. Please email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org