Grinton Parish Commons, Swaledale, North Yorkshire

NAME OF COMMONS: Grinton Common, Harkerside Moor & Whitaside Moor

PARISH: Grinton

COUNTY: North Yorkshire

CL NUMBERS & ACREAGES: Grinton Common (CL 147, 1,203.63a); Harkerside Moor (ex-CL 201, 1,525.54a); Whitaside Moor (CL 97, 1,544.41a).

Grinton Commons by Will Swales
One of the boundary stones between the parishes of Ellerton Abbey and Grinton, at a point near the head of Glead Gill, looking westwards across Grinton Moor to How Hill and with the top of Harkerside Moor just visible in the far distance.



The moors of Grinton (CL 147), Harkerside (ex-CL 201) and Whitaside (CL 97) are in the parish of Grinton, in Swaledale, North Yorkshire.  These are large upland commons and moors which continue to support a small number of active graziers.  In keeping with many commons of the northern uplands, grazing rights were ‘stinted’ or ‘gaited’ (limited by number or quota), and graziers documented their attempts to impose new stinting rules on the commons in the nineteenth century.  These commons have not only been valued as pasture for livestock but also as a reservoir of minerals, particularly lead, and as grouse moors for commercial shoots.  Common lands have always been places where multiple and sometimes conflicting interests interact.  On grouse moors, there is often an historic tension between grouse and grazing, as the habitat needs of one are not always compatible with the other.  The distinctive story of grouse moor commons reveals yet another aspect of the rich and the varied history of common land in England and Wales.

The paper presented here was researched and written by Will Swales, with contributions from local graziers.  It provides a detailed history of the commons, highlighting the impact of agriculture and industry, tenure and landownership, and regulation of grazing.


Historical Paper

Paper by Will Swales: Commons of Grinton Parish, Swaledale. Opens as PDF.



The contributor’s paper was researched using: original documents in North Yorkshire County Record Office; various printed sources (please see references in the historical paper, above); memories and knowledge gathered through personal conversations with graziers (please see individuals referenced in the historical paper, above).


Useful Websites

Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Archaeology Group

Swaledale Museum

Out of Oblivion – Yorkshire Dales national park Historic Environment Pages

Federation of Yorkshire Commoners & Moorland Graziers



We are grateful to Will Swales for contributing his paper and photograph to the project.