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Richmondshire or the Honour of Richmond in north-west Yorkshire comprises the wapentakes of East Gilling, Hallikeld, Hang East, Hang West and West Gilling. It was granted to Count Alan Rufus (also known as Alain le Roux) by King William the Conqueror sometime during 1069 to 1071, although the date is uncertain. It was gifted as thanks for his services at the Conquest. The extensive district was previously held by Edwin, Earl of Mercia who died in 1071. The district is probably mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 but its limits are uncertain.[1]

The honour comprised 60 knight's fess and was one of the most important fiefdoms in Norman England.[2] According to the 14th-century Genealogia of the lords of Richmond, Alan Rufus built a stronghold in the district. The buildings were later known as Richmond Castle which is alluded to in the Domesday survey as forming a ‘castlery’.[3]


The Gilling territory consists mainly of land which lies between the River Tees and the River Swale, with the Tees forming the northern border which separates the land from that granted to the Bishop of Durham. The western border is the watershed of the Pennine Hills and the southern border is the watershed between the River Ure and the Swale. The River Wiske forms the eastern border. The manor of Gilling, close to the boundary, was the caput of the barony until Count Alan moved it to Richmond Castle. The division of Hang, or Hangshire, has the River Swale as its northern boundary; its western boundary is the Pennine watershed and its southern boundary is the watershed with the River Wharfe and the River Nidd. The eastern border follows small streams and minor landmarks from the previous watershed to the Swale. The wapentake meeting place was situated on the Hang Beck in Finghall parish. The third part of the territory, Hallikeld, consists of the parishes lying between the River Ure and the River Swale until their confluence at Ellenthorpe.

The Honour of Richmond comprises most of the land between the River Tees and the River Ure and ranges in its landscape from the bleak mountainous areas of the Pennines to the fertile lowlands of the Vale of York.

Richmond castle was in ruins by 1540 but was restored centuries later and is now a tourist attraction.[4]


  1. "THE HONOUR AND CASTLE OF RICHMOND". British History. 1 March 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2019. "The date of the grant is uncertain, and no charter remains to bear witness to it. The most likely date in that case would seem to be 1069, when Edwin was still living ... If the evidence of the so-called charter is inaccurate on this point as on others the grant may have been delayed until after the death of Edwin in 1071." 
  2. Butler, Lawrence (2003). "4.The origins of the honour of Richmond and its castles". in Robert Liddiard. Anglo Norman Castles. Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press. pp. 91–95. ISBN 0-85115-904-4. 
  3. "THE HONOUR AND CASTLE OF RICHMOND". British History. 1 March 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2019. "... the early poem which contains the first mention of it yet discovered says that William the Conqueror gave Count Alan Richmond 'a good castle fair and strong.' (fn. 259) This statement may, however, be due to poetic licence." 
  4. "HISTORY OF RICHMOND CASTLE". English Heritage. 1 March 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2019. "By 1540 the castle was derelict, but it later became a popular tourist destination." 

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