Swaledale Museum


Vernacular Buildings are the traditional local stone buildings that were for ordinary domestic and functional purposes (rather than public or monumental buildings).  The Vernacular Buildings Study Group was formed in 2007 with the help of the Friends of the Swaledale Museum and Don McLellan who was at that time the historic buildings officer at the National Park (since retired).  We obtained grants from Richmondshire District Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund (Awards for All) to enable us to:

·         survey and record historic vernacular buildings in Swaledale & Arkengarthdale,
·         research how our distinctive local architecture developed over time,
·         assess how the structures were extended and modified to give us the buildings we have inherited from our forebears, and
·         raise awareness amongst both local people and visitors of this important aspect of our local heritage.
Since our formation we have learnt a lot about the architecture of ‘ordinary’ buildings in the area and the way they have often been extended and modified by later generations.  We have carried out detailed surveys of two very interesting buildings, one of which possibly stands on the site of an earlier medieval building. We aim to identify and record all the features of interest from large items such as roof timbers down to small features such as door hinges. We consider documentary evidence including deeds, tithe maps, census returns, land tax records etc and attempt to determine the history of the house and estimate when it was first constructed and how it was subsequently extended.
A set of display panels illustrating most of the characteristic features of local Vernacular Buildings was prepared for the Heritage Open Day event in Reeth to launch the “Big Dig” Project in 2014, and is now available within the Museum archives.
Liaison is maintained with the Yorkshire Vernacular Buildings Study Group (YVBSG) which has previously surveyed a number of historic buildings in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale, and electronic copies of a number of their survey reports have been obtained for reference purposes.
A booklet entitled “The History of your House in Upper Swaledale” by Tim Bagenal (the late founder of the Northern Dales Buildings Trust) is available from the Museum shop.
The Vernacular Buildings Study Group is currently “stood down” while attention is focussed on the SWAAG “Big Dig” Project. 
Alan Thorogood on behalf of SAVBSG, February 2015




©2015 - Swaledale Museum, The Green, Reeth, North Yorkshire, DL11 6TX. 01748 884118