Monday, October 03, 2011

Yorkshire Dales barns

click photo to enlarge
A recent few days in the Yorkshire Dales re-acquainted me with some stone barns that I've known all my life. Some continue in use much as they always have, others have fallen further into a state of dilapidation, and some are in the process of being converted to new uses.

Todays's photograph shows a modest barn near Settle called Far Thornber Barn. Most Dales barns  that are out in the fields have names. Often these relate to the first owner, to the location or have a name whose origins are lost in the mists of time. Sometimes the last part of the name is "Laithe" rather than "Barn", a word that derives from the Old Norse (ON) word "hlatha" meaning barn. This reflects the influx from predominantly Ireland and Norway of Norse settlers in the years after 800 AD. In this area, a mile or so south of Settle, there is a cluster of barns that I know well. The oldest is Brigholme Barn near Giggleswick, by the River Ribble, which apparently dates from the seventeenth century. The last part of its name comes from the ON "holmr" meaning a dry, raised place in wet land - a suitable location for a barn -  and the first may derive from either the Old English "brycg" or the ON "bryggja", both meaning bridge. In my childhood it was piled high with bales of hay. It's now surrounded by newer structures that serve modern farming better, but is still used, cared for and maintained with traditional methods (lime mortar etc) as befits a listed building.

A few hundred yards from the barn in the photograph is the oddly named Fish Copy Barn. A more "architectural" structure than many it has a "porch", carved stone decoration and a late nineteenth century date stone with the owner's initials. For many years it was roofed, and the upper part of the porch was notable for a pile of song thrush nests about six feet high, the work of successive generations of birds each building on the nest below. Now it stands forlorn, unwanted and roofless amid a patch of waste land. By the A65 road the cluster of Cleatop Barns (named after the nearby house and wood) are in the process of being transformed into offices, retail space and a restaurant: a sad end for these distinctive buildings.

I visited Settle in a period of unseasonally hot weather with clear blue skies - not ideal for walking on the limestone and millstone grit uplands or for photography. This shot, however, was taken on the first morning of my stay when some low cloud pierced by patches of sunlight made photography much easier.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 60mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/160
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On