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County Durham, Yorkshire
Crayke - Church Hill and the church - - 1168566.jpg
Church Hill and St Cuthberts Church, Crayke
Grid reference: SE560707
Location: 54°7’42"N, 1°8’27"W
Postcode: YO61
Dialling code: 01904
Local Government
Council: Hambleton
Thirsk and Malton

Crayke is a village and parish which forms a detached part of the County of Durham, situated locally in the North Riding of Yorkshire, about two miles east of Easingwold.


There is evidence that there has been a settlement here since the times of the seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.[1] The village is named in the Domesday Book as Crec, part of the Yarlestre hundred and noted as belonging to the Bishop of Durham.[2]

The seventh-century king Egfrid granted Crayke to the church in 685 to be used by St Cuthbert on his visits to York, to which end Cuthbert founded a monastery here. Cuthbert died in AD 687. The monk Aediluulf wrote a poem Carmen de Abbatibus between 803 and 821 about the history of his monastery, and some scholars propose that the monastery, which was in the circle of Lindisfarne, was in Crayke. (For instance, Michael Lapidge in Anglo-Latin Literature 600-899, Hambledon Press, London 1996) According to the chronicler Symeon, the Northumbrian King Aelle appropriated Crayke and used it as his headquarters during the unsuccessful campaign against the Danes in 867. He also reports that when the congregation of St Cuthbert was wandering homeless during the seven-year period 875-882 the monks remained four months at Crayke.[1]

In Norman times the Bishops of Durham constructed a castle over the monastic cemetery, though no traces now remain.[1]

Links with Cuthbert and the bishopric of Durham are recognised in the dedication of the 1436 Anglican church to St Cuthbert, and the naming of the pub as the Durham Ox, (an allusion to the foundation myth of Durham).


The region around Crayke shown as an exclave of Durham, in Betts's family Atlas, 1846.

The village is at an elevation of 368 ft at its highest point. The nearest settlements are Easingwold, 2½ miles to the south-west; Stillington, two miles to the south-east; Brandsby, two miles to the north-east and Oulston, three miles to the north. The River Foss lies just one mile to the east of the village.

According to the 1881 census the population of the village was 501. In the 2001 UK Census the population was recorded as 390, of which 315 were over the age of sixteen and 206 of those were in employment. There are 168 dwellings of which 102 were detached.[3]

The village is served by the Easingwold to York bus route as well as a School Bus to Easingwold School. There is a public house and several local businesses in the village. There is a sports and leisure club on the outskirts where tennis and cricket are played.[4]


In the Dark Ages, Crayke was home to Echa of Crayke, an eighth century Anglo-Saxon Saint, priest and monk-hermit, known for his holliness, healing[5] and prophetic gifting.[6] According to the York Annals,[7] he died AD 767, and his feast day is 5 May.[8][9][10][11] He is known from the Hagiography of the Secgan Manuscript, and the poem on the Saints of York by Saint Alcuin[12]

St Cuthbert's Church, Crayke

There is a church in the village dedicated to St Cuthbert. It was so named following the time of the Danish invasions, when the body of St Cuthbert was unearthed and travelled around the north of England to protect it. The monks rested with his body at Crayke for a time.[1] The present building was erected in 1490 in the Perpendicular style.

In the 19th century there were Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist chapels in the village as well as a Catholic chapel, all now disused.[1]

Notable buildings

The village is the site of a 15th-century castle. The Grade I listed building was constructed around 1450.[13]

There are 28 Grade II listed buildings in the village,[14] including the Brandsby Royal Observer Corps monitoring post that operated from 1964 to 1991 at Zion Hill Farm on Key Lane. Its purpose was to monitor radioactive fallout in the event of a nuclear war. It was built underground to hold a staff of three who could live self-sufficiently for three weeks. It reported to No 20 Group headquarters in York[15][16]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Bulmer's Topography, History and Directory (Private and Commercial) of North Yorkshire 1890. S&N Publishing. 1890. pp. 680, 681. ISBN 1-86150-299-0. 
  2. Crayke in the Domesday Book
  3. "2001 UK Census". Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  4. "Village amenities". Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  5. Paul E. Szarmach, Holy Men and Holy Women: Old English Prose Saints' Lives and Their Contexts (SUNY Press, 1996) page97.
  6. Echa of Crayke] at the Oxford Dictionary of Saints,
  7. Michael Lapidge, Anglo-Latin Literature, 600-899 (Continuum, 1996).page395
  8. Saints Days for May.
  9. Symeon of Durham, ii (S.S.), 22; in J. Raine, Historians of the Church of York (R.S.), i. 390.
  10. T. Arnold Symeonis monachi opera omnia London 1885 30–66 .
  11. Peter Godman, Alcuin: The Bishops, Kings, and Saints of York (Oxford, 1982) 2-134
  12. Peter Godman, De pontificibus et sanctis Ecclesiae Eboracensis, The Bishops, Kings, and Saints of York. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982.
  13. "Crayke Castle Listing". Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  14. "Grade II listed buildings". Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  15. "ROC post listing". Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  16. "ROC post". Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
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