“The writing on the wall: the concealed communities of the East Yorkshire horse lads” is the subject of a forthcoming talk at the Helmsley Archaeological and Historical Society.
Tucked away in the granaries and barns of East Yorkshire are the remains of 19th and 20th century graffiti, created by the horse lads of East Yorkshire. The horse lads were part of a distinctive way of farming on the High Wolds, where groups of men lived and worked the land together with their horses. Their lives were hard and the farms remote, but this created strong hierarchies within and bonds between these communities. The graffiti records their everyday lives but also experiences during the first and second world wars, including the Wolds Wagoners and the presence of Land Girls. Gradually, as horses gave way to tractors, the graffiti also records the impact of mechanisation on farming practices and the loss of traditional farming practices.
Several years ago, archaeology twins Dr Mel Giles (University of Manchester) and Dr Kate Giles (University of York) carried out survey work in and around the Birdsall Estate, recording the rapidly-disappearing evidence of this graffiti. This research resonated closely with a major oral history project on the horse lads, carried out with the surviving horse lads by Dr Stephen Caunce.
In this lecture, Kate and Mel share the results of their findings and consider the way in which this research has impacted on archaeologists’ broader attitudes to recording these ephemeral traces of traditional life.
Mel and Kate have both given talks to the Society before, and have a reputation for being informative and entertaining speakers. They are sure to make it fascinating.
Friday 20th October 2017, 7.30pm, at the North York Moors National Park Authority Committee Room, Bondgate, Helmsley. New members are always welcome, and visitors may attend individual talks for a small donation.