Yorkshire's Historic Past

Yorkshire - a county with a history unsurpassed in Britain

For more than 2000 years, history has written a proud and fiercely independent story across the landscape, from the mighty castles of medieval England to the mills which mark the birth of the Industrial Revolution.

This was once the kingdom of the woad-painted warriors, the Brigantes, whose capital is now marked by the Roman town at Aldborough. The conquering Romans made their base at Eboracum which in its turn became the Vikings' Jorvik and later, medieval York.

The Middle Ages left their legacy standing in stone - a wealth of ancient abbeys and castles.

Seeking solitude in the wilderness, the monks gave glorious settings to their abbeys, among them Bolton, Jervaulx and Rievaulx Abbeys and incomparable Fountains Abbey, a World Heritage site.

For centuries, "he who held the north held the kingdom", a stark truth which speaks from the stones of castles such as Skipton, Helmsley, Conisbrough, with its mighty Norman keep, Castle Bolton, and tranquil Middleham in Wensleydale, once the power base of the infamous Richard III. More peaceful ages poured their wealth into lavish country homes, among them, Nostell Priory near Wakefield, palatial Harewood House near Leeds and the Baroque splendour of Castle Howard, near Malton, made famous by the television series "Brideshead Revisited".

Excellent city museums include those in Leeds, Hull and the Yorkshire Museum in York, with its superb Middleham jewel. Lively smaller museums include the award-winning Hornsea Museum and Scarborough's distinctive Rotunda Museum, and museums with a special appeal such as Holmfirth Postcard Museum, Ripon's Prison and Police Museum and Wilberforce House in Hull, dedicated to the fight against slavery.

More intimate but no less beautiful are the region's many smaller historic homes. They reach back through time from Edwardian Lotherton Hall near Leeds to the Elizabethan warmth of Burton Agnes Hall on the Wolds and the medieval memories of Shibden Hall near Halifax, the West Yorkshire Folk Museum.

Remember, too, Yorkshire's dynamic industrial museums capturing centuries of working pride in textiles, mining, fishing and steel. See how people lived and worked at the Colne Valley Museum, Golcar, the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, Sheffield and the Museum of South Yorkshire Life, Doncaster. Visit Worsbrough Mill Museum, Barnsley, Thwaite Mills and Armley Mills in Leeds, Bradford Industrial and Horses at Work Museum, the Calderdale Industrial Museum and the Hull Town Docks Museum - all harnessing the power of the past in a unique experience.

Castle Howard, one of Yorkshire's historic stately homes and houses York Museum Gardens, one of Yorkshire's many museums