6 The Square
Grassington Folk Museum | Grassington
Thousands of visitors to Grassington come from all over Britain and from overseas, see the old village as a charming tourist centre in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and look upon its cobbled Square and its narrow courts or “folds” as a picturesque memory of a bygone rural England?
The truth is not quite so simple. Though medieval Grassington, with its weekly market in the Square, was the most important village in Upper Wharfedale, it was industry as much as farming which created the Grassington we see today. Grassington was as much a part of the Industrial Revolution as Manchester or Bradford.
Most of the exhibits come from local sources. They tell the story of life in Upper Wharfedale from the days when lynchets or “raines” were cut to terrace and cultivate the fell sides, through times when oats formed the staple diet, to the coming of such “modern” appliances as gramophones, cameras and silent films.
On display are geological specimens, including Grassington minerals, such as galena (lead ore), barites, limonites, calamine, calcite and fluorspar. There are mesolithic arrow points and scrapers, a medieval whetstone, and a spear-head set, also iron age bones, including a tundra reindeer's jaws from Stump Cross Caverns on the moors between Grassington and Pateley Bridge.
Sections include kitchen equipment and all the items necessary for a self-sufficient life, when a journey to Skipton and back took the best part of a day. There are farming exhibits with some tools so massive one is astonished at the strength required to use them. There is a section on the great lead mining industry that gave employment to thousands of Dales folk for centuries. A cobbler's bench with his tools and materials remind us of time when footwear was made to order and repaired in the village.