In 1947 Dalesman Publishing Company published Arthur Raistrick’s book about Malham and Malham Moor. It includes an outline history of the area including geology and climate, descriptions and explanations of the Cove, the Tarn and Water Sinks, Gordale Scar and Pikedaw. He wrote in detail about Malham Moor and Pikedaw, and mining in the area. He included descriptions of many of the old houses in the village as it was in the 1940s, [his preface is dated 1946] and how this related to its earlier history. So, using Raistrick’s book, a walk round Malham today can reveal the layout in its earliest days, the changes through the Middle Ages, and an update from jut after the Second World War. Raistrick focused on buildings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which are generally considered to be vernacular in style and materials, but he also commented on others. He believed that those older houses stood on the sites of older, wood and thatch homes and barns, which would thus describe the layout of the medieval village. Most of the information below comes from Raistrick’s book, but it is supplemented by details from the sources listed at the end.

Along the west side of the beck, which in Monastic times was owned by Fountains Abbey, there is a date stone on the cottage next to the Methodist Chapel, suggesting a date when the house was remodelled, and the farm next to it had features details from the sixteenth century. Passing the Buck Inn, the present village hall stands on the site of Malham Hall, rebuilt in stone in the 1600s. Next adjoining the end of the building, and forming part of New Row [16th century] is a cottage which was part of Malham Hall. At the end of New Row, in the garden wall of Dale house is a date stone which has come from some old house in the vicinity – WMB1722. Moving north along Cove Road, and ignoring all the modern houses, Hill Top is a cluster of seventeenth buildings about which Raistrick waxes lyrical, and they still appear to retain the features which make this age of house so appealing.

Further along is Town Head, where the buildings have been altered at various dates, and a cluster of buildings nearer the road which include the Calamine House. Calamine, the ore of zinc which is used in the making of brass, had been discovered on the 1790s on Pikedaw; the building showed features of seventeenth century design, and was used as a barn and for storage of the roasted calamine ore. On the opposite side of the lane at Town Head, a short row of cottages runs down to Moon Bridge over the stream. The house nearest the ford is called ‘Cromwell Cottage’, a reminder of Civil War activity – and that Cromwell is supposed to have signed as witness for three weddings in Kirkby Malham Church. His friend John Lambert, who captured Bradford for Cromwell, lived in nearby Calton.

The clapper bridge is named after the last Prior of Bolton Priory, which once owned the land on the east side of the beck.

Upstream is Beck Hall, standing on the site of the Old Hall, which was the second house of Fountains Abbey. This route connects Wharfedale to the east and Ribblesdale to the west, with off shoots outside the village to the north. At the top of the track is Prior Hall Farm, where Prior Hall once stood, and King House, both basically 17th century buildings. Up the hill a little way is the old school, founded in 1717 by Rowland Brayshaw. Raistrick described it as derelict, but is now lived in.

The track down to Finkle Street passes the Youth Hostel, and at the junction is the old pinfold. In the wall north of Finkle Street is cut stone and part of a door head  with the date 1634 from a house   pulled down early 18th century. Further east along Finkle Street, on the south side is Friar Garth, the second house of Bolton Priory, once a farm, now a collection of houses.

The main bridge near the centre of the village is now called New Bridge, but its older traditional name is Monk Bridge and it is most likely that it was first  built by the monks or servants of either Fountains Abbey or Bolton Priory, or by them jointly. Alongside is the ford which can still be seen on the south side the bridge. Initially probably a clapper bridge, an arched pack horse bridge was constructed in the 17th century and widened in the eighteenth or early in the nineteenth century.

Two buildings of interest not discussed are the Buck Inn and the Lister Arms. The latter has two date stones,the older one is  over an outbuilding at the rear.  The initials 1723 RR possibly refer to Robert Redman or Redmayn, who in the eighteenth century was lending money on mortgage on several Malham properties. It is probable that Redman refronted the house taking out the older date stone and substituting his own in 1723.

The Buck Inn was built by Mr. Morrison of Tarn House, in ‘the estate style’ to replace the older structure, of which only a small cottage remains at the north end of the inn. The name may have been taken either from the roe buck which formerly lived in these parts, or from the family of Buck which at an early date was of considerable importance in Malham. The cottage was at one time used by some of the miners from Pikedaw.

So as you walk the roads and tracks of Malham, you are stepping in the footsteps of people who lived and worked hundreds of years ago, and probably appreciated its setting at least as much as we do today.



“Streets and Trails of the Yorkshire Dales” Jennie Crawford, Wharfedale Books, 2000

“Malham and Malham Moor” Arthur Raistrick; Dalesman Publishing Company, Clapham (via Lancaster) Yorkshire 1947

Kirkby Malham Local History Group – from the Web

Listed buildings from the Web

Yorkshire Cotton” by George Ingle

“The Malham Mines” Mike Gill & Mike Squirrell

Photographs – all from Wikimedia commons

Buck Inn by By Immanuel Giel – Own work, Public Domain,

Moon Bridge by Immanuel Giel – Own work, Public Domain,

Old School by Immanuel Giel – Own work, Public Domain,

New Bridge by Immanuel Giel – Own work, Public Domain,

The Buck Inn By Nilfanion – Wikimedia UK, CC BY-SA 4.0,