The ancient riding, devised by the Vikings, was actually smaller than it is today. It started on the north bank of the River Derwent, a boundary shared with the East Riding and stretched up to the river Tees to include places such as Middlesbrough, Barnard Castle and Romaldskirk. Its boundary with the old West Riding met at the banks of the River Ouse at York and Ripon, which cuts across the hills and valleys of the Yorkshire Dales to just east of Sedbergh. An act in 1889 saw Northallerton become its administrative centre and renamed the County of York and North riding. As with the others this followed closely the ancient boundaries set out by the Vikings. In 1968 the urban area of Teesside was created, which incorporated Middlesbrough, Stockton and surrounding areas north of the river. This began the process of the area’s disassociation with Yorkshire, which was further increased with the invention of “Cleveland” in 1974. Like Humberside this meant that the area was no longer considered part of Yorkshire. On the same day in 1996, as their Eastern counterparts celebrated the abolition of Humberside, Cleveland also ceased to exist, with parts of the county joining County Durham and others, such as Guisborough re-joining North Riding Of Yorkshire, at lest for ceremonial purposes.
The 1974 changes saw the rest of North Yorkshire expand, especially in the North West, where the dales fringe towns of Skipton, Settle and Harrogate joined the county from the drastically reduced West riding. The area also took over the ancient independent area of “Ainsty,” which included York, Selby, previously in the West Riding, and lands surrounding the River Ouse’s flow from York, to the Humber estuary.
North Yorkshire is famous for being the most picturesque part of the county. It contains two national parks, the Dales to the west and the Yorkshire Moors to the east. The area is popular with tourists and so the economy lends itself primarily to this industry, along with agriculture. The area was an important religious centre with many medieval priories being established here by monks in medieval times. These were all destroyed by the forces of King Henry VIII during his “Dissolution of the monasteries,” policy of 1539, which left these impressive structures as ruins. Many of them, such as Bolton Priory, Rievaulx Abbey and Fountains abbey are now popular tourist destinations. The coastal towns of Scarborough and Whitby offer both spectacular scenery and all the trappings of modern seaside resorts.
North Yorkshire is the largest and perhaps the most famous riding with its scenery, farms, dry stone walls and friendly folk, which help to make the county truly great.