Ribblehead Viking farmstead – reconstruction MYD3669 © York Museums Trust (Yorkshire Museum).
Only one Viking period farmstead has so far (2004) been excavated in the Yorkshire Dales. The cluster of three rectangular stone buildings and enclosures is located on bare limestone pavement at 340 metres OD close to Ribblehead Quarry. The walls of the buildings were dry rubble limestone and had rounded corners. The long walls of the largest building were 1.5-1.8 metres thick while at its south gable they were even thicker, more than 3 metres. The north gable being 2.4 metres thick was slightly less solid.
The outer face walls of each of the buildings were formed from limestone boulders, the inner ones with coursed limestone slabs with rubble and earth packed in between. All of the buildings would have had ridged timber roofs and were probably turf or heather thatched.
The largest building is 19 metres long and 4 metres wide internally. It is assumed that this was the main domestic building. It had centrally placed paved doorways at its gable end. The smaller buildings may have been workshops or kitchens.
Coins and other finds date the site to the 9th century AD and these along with the layout, construction and shape of the buildings have led archaeologists to interpret the site as a Norse farmstead.
Ribblehead Viking farmstead – excavation MYD3669 © The Craven Museum, Skipton, 2004.
King, Alan (1978) ‘Ribblehead’ Current Archaeology. No 61 pp38-41
King, A (1978) ‘Gauber high pasture, Ribblehead – an interim report’ in Hall, R A (ed) (1978) Viking Age York & the North. CBA Research Report No 27 pp21-25
www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/vikings/launch_vr_viking_farm.shtml – virtual reality tour of Ribblehead Viking farmstead. Date accessed 8/3/04.