Friends of the Dales is undertaking a huge community digital archiving project called Capturing the Past. Many volunteers in the Ingleborough Dales area have been trained to catalogue and scan their community archives and upload these to a new website. With an open day planned shortly to showcase 18 months worth of work Ian Fleming, team leader of the project, has written this article for Dales Life...

“Whereas at the general quarter sessions of the peace holden (sic) for the West Riding of the County of York at Skipton the sixteenth day of July in the second year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George the fourth an indictment was preferred and found against the inhabitants of the township of Lawkland in the said Riding for not repairing a common and antient(sic) highway leading from the township of Gisburn towards and unto the township of Austwick… “

So begins an original document discovered in the extensive archives of the Lawkland parish meeting and now made available on line for the first time by the residents of Lawkland working with the Capturing the Past team.

Capturing the Past is a two year Friends of the Dales* project, part of Stories in Stone, a major programme of conservation and community projects concentrated on the Ingleborough area. The scheme was developed by the Ingleborough Dales Landscape Partnership, led by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Over the past 18 months the team, together with colleagues from the County Record Office, has been working with a number of local history groups and individuals to help them to validate, sort, catalogue and digitise a vast amount of historical material held in private archives that have not previously been publicly accessible. So far 16 archives comprising over 800 documents have been recorded and digitised covering parishes around Ingleborough and this material is all now available to search and view on a purpose built website

The Lawkland archive is typical of the original material discovered and contains parish records dating from the 18th Century including those of the poorhouse serving local parishes including Austwick, Clapham and Horton in Ribblesdale. These provide details of those poor souls admitted to the house as well as account books recording goods and food provided for the benefit of the local poor. There are original letters from applicants for the post of overseer and parish constable, indentures allocating local poor children to apprenticeships and details of local legal disputes. But this is just a fraction of the fascinating documents and photographs that are already on the site. Other material consists of deeds, wills and inventories, parish council records and old tradesmens’ bills for Settle.

The team’s work will continue until March 2018 by which time it’s hoped that over 20 archives containing around 2000 items will be available on the website. Current work consists of cataloguing and digitising the extensive collections of historical material held by Horton Local History group and Long Preston Heritage group. Recently, the team has acquired the historical records of Horton primary school which sadly closed this summer. The school was originally founded in the 16th Century as a free grammar school and work is now underway to catalogue and digitise the material, placing on the web site those records not restricted by data protection regulations. Similar work is continuing with the archive of the former North Craven Historical Research Group that was run from Proctor House in Settle.

The plan is for the web site to become a long term repository of historical information about North Craven and the wider Yorkshire Dales managed by the Friends of the Dales. The site enables visitors to upload their own historical material and to comment on that already loaded. It also provides links with other local and national collections including the County Record Office and offers advice and guidance to those conducting historical research.

To celebrate success so far the Friends of the Dales is hosting a “Celebration Open Day” public event at Victoria Hall, Settle on Saturday 21 October between 11am and 4pm. Members of the expert team and local volunteers will be showcasing the incredible historic photographs, social records, wills and other documents unearthed as part of this very successful project. You can see the scanning and digitising equipment in action and explore the huge catalogue of items now uploaded on to the website. If you live in the Ingleborough Dales area, why not bring along your own archive material for the team to assess, digitise and upload on the day? Take away a digital copy of your material on CD. You’ll also hear how we hope to roll out the project to help other communities across the Dales collate and digitise their own archives – so do come along if you are involved in a history or local archive project anywhere in the Dales area. Tea and biscuits available through the day. See for more information or email

And what judgment was handed down to the reluctant road menders of Lawkland? You’ll have to visit the website to find out.

* Friends of the Dales is the new name for the Yorkshire Dales Society