Thorns Through Time

Thorns is a small, uninhabited hamlet close to Ribblehead viaduct. It is first recorded in 1190 as a lodge for Furness Abbey, with six tenants residing at the hamlet in the early 16th century at the Dissolution. The names of residents are known from wills and parish records from 1546 to 1881. The 1841 census records three households, but the 1891 census records only "one uninhabited dwelling".

Why is it special?

It is a very picturesque and atmospheric site which occupied an important location on a long-disused north-south packhorse route. During the 18th century the nearby former Gearstones Inn relied heavily on the business of passing drovers and held weekly markets and a regular fair.

The site now consists of a group of vernacular buildings in various states of decay, a series of earthwork platforms representing the sites of earlier buildings and structures, a ruined lime kiln and a network of walled fields and tracks.

Thorns has a mixed archaeological heritage both in terms of chronology and features, but no archaeological survey or investigation of the site has been carried out, and thus our understanding of the site’s development and eventual abandonment is limited.

How was the project delivered?

The project aim was to investigate the hamlet and explain Thorns and its wider context to the public by undertaking a comprehensive survey of the settlement possibly leading to targeted archaeological excavation. The remains of the ruined house and adjoining privy have been consolidated to prevent further decay.

The project was led by David Johnson assisted by volunteers, who accrued more than 300 hours of time on this project.

Now Available

The full report on the excavation and findings, plus historically relevant information was available to buy from the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust. The report is available as a download or through the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust website.

Thorns through time report



Get in touch

If you’d like more information, please contact Hannah Rose, Stories in Stone Administrator.