Welcome to the Mini Guide To Yorkshire! After putting the question to the community on Facebook and via email it was decided that we should use the format of the old ‘Three Ridings’ of Yorkshire as opposed to the current system of North, East, South and West divisions.
People feel very strongly about this and it is fair to say that the vote was unanimous.So here we are! This is an ongoing project of ours which we are adding to and tweaking all of the time. It is ‘evolving’ and it will never be finished! The end goal is to build a comprehensive guide to Yorkshire for everyone to use and enjoy. If you have any feedback for us please feel free to drop us an email through the contact page.
The Yorkshire Ridings
A guide to rivers in Yorkshire
Yorkshire is the biggest county in t’land which covers such a large area of England that it had to be split into three ridings, North, West and East. The ridings system was first introduced in the year 889AD by the Vikings. The word “riding” derives from the Danish word, “thridding” or “thryding,” meaning “third.” The boundaries of the three ridings all converged on the important capital city of York, or “Jorvik,” as it was known in Viking times. This walled city was considered independent from the rest and remained so until 1889.
Each riding was then divided into several “wapentakes” or districts, twelve in the east, thirteen in the north riding and fourteen in the west. The wapentake around York was known as The Ainsty.
Some of the old wapentake names are still in common use today, such as Holderness, an area to the east of Hull, Ryedale, an area of North Yorkshire above York and Morley, which is now a town of its own standing in the West Riding.
The boundaries of the ancient ridings followed loosely the course of the county’s many river systems, with the Tees in the North, the Ouse running through York and the Derwent, which connects the ancient capital to the coast. The old boundaries also included places nowadays in County Durham, Cumbria and Lancashire.
Over time due to political reasons the boundaries have changed meaning that some places on the edge of the county are no longer part of Yorkshire, such as Middlesbrough and for a period, Hull.The three ridings were formulated into three administrative areas in 1889, with the city of York merged with the West Riding, instead of being independent. A town in each riding was also appointed to be the centre for administration with county halls being constructed as their headquarters. The border town of Todmorden was also included wholly in Yorkshire as previously it had been split with Lancashire. The borders of each riding stuck roughly to the ones outlined by the Vikings, using the county’s river systems as boundaries.
In 1974 a further series of boundary changes altered the map of Yorkshire forever and even excluded parts which had long considered themselves (and still do) part of our great county. On April fool’s Day that year this raft of measures decimated the Ridings system which had existed for 1100 years and places, such as Middlesbrough, which had been traditionally Yorkshire, were left outside the county borders, becoming part of newly created regions instead. Some areas have since returned to the fold in 1996, but others still remain cut adrift in foreign territory.