North York Moors

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Archaeology and local history

Rock art from Fylingdales Moor Fire site couresy of English HeritageRock art from Fylingdales Moor Fire site couresy of English Heritage

When you look at the North York Moors, what do you see?

Although the moors seem wild and natural, their appearance is entirely the result of human activity. Each generation has left its own mark, manipulating and managing the land to meet its own needs.

The evidence of this can be found all around us, if you learn how to read the signs. Take a closer look at the countryside, towns and villages of the North York Moors and you can start to imagine what was happening here hundreds or even thousands of years ago

The archaeological record is amazing. A huge wealth of remains has been discovered or excavated, ranging from the flint tools and camps of the first hunters at the end of the last Ice Age to the concrete and steel bunkers of the Cold War period. You'll encounter the largest Iron Age hill-fort in the north of England, as well as Roman fortifications, medieval castles and abbeys, ancient moorland crosses, and the remains of important early industrial sites.

The North York Moors played a significant part in the Industrial Revolution, from the coming of the railways to the large-scale exploitation of ironstone that led to the development of Middlesbrough and the Teesside iron and steel industry.

Each historical period or event had a very real effect on the people who lived in those times. Their stories are another valuable way we have of finding out what life used to be like in the North York Moors.

Some parts of our history may be familiar, while others may surprise you. By opening up a window on the past – through archaeological or historical investigation – it's possible to change your perception of the present.

Conservation projects

The National Park Authority works on a wide variety of projects that conserve and protect the historic environment. You can read more about this work here, and keep up to date with the latest project news.

Historic Environment Record

The North York Moors Historic Environment Record (HER) is the archaeological index for the National Park area and is maintained by the National Park Authority. The database contains summary information on the archaeological knowledge that we hold; it includes non-designated features and sites, Scheduled Monuments, Listed Buildings and Registered Parks and Gardens of Historic Interest. This map presents the data graphically against a digital Ordnance Survey map background, which enables an assessment of the archaeological resource or potential of an area.