Skipsea – Isle of Ships

Following on from visiting the north and north-western sources of the River Hull, last weekend we followed the river’s tributaries north-east to Skipsea and Barmston. Skipsea is the site of one of the most recent major discoveries in British archaeology. Hidden in plain sight for hundreds of years, Reading University confirmed in 2016 that the Norman motte and bailey castle was in fact a massive 2,500 year old Iron Age burial mound.

Click on the video to join us sitting in the sunshine looking at Skipsea mound waiting for the sun to set, imagining it’s past lives…

So the mound re-purposed by Drogo de la Beuvrière in 1086 after the Norman Conquest, Skipsea meaning “Isle of Ships” became one of the most important East Coast ports and harbours by adding a navigable channel linking the port to the North Sea at Barmston.

The mere and springs that once surrounded Skipsea were drained in the 18th century but can still be seen from above flowing north and linking with Barmston beck. They then flow west and join with Old Howe and Kelk beck from Kilham springs and mere at Frodingham beck above Emmotland.

At Emmotland they meet the north and western tributaries flowing from Nafferton mere and beck, Driffield beck and river head, Little Driffield mere and beck and the springs at the deserted mediaeval village of Elmswell and becks from Kirkburn and Southburn.

An 11th century Norman story of the River Hull valley and navigation shows the major eastern port and harbour at Skipsea linked by river to Norman settlements and churches at Barmston, Frodingham, Kilham, Nafferton, Driffield and Kirkburn.

Returning to Iron Age Skipsea and a prehistoric picture of the East Riding and the River Hull valley shows the area settled by the Parisi at the southern end of its territory, with settlements linked by river tributaries and places of worship at the source of these tributaries; the massive burial mound at Skipsea linked by river to the iron age cemeteries at Kirkburn Parish (Southburn and Eastburn) and Nafferton, with settlements at Kilham, Barmston, Kirkburn, Driffield and Nafferton.

Pre Iron-Age and you can see the sources of the River Hull connected by cursus north above Driffield and Kilham to the sacred Neolithic landscape of Rudston and the Gypsey Race…

Kirkburn St Mary's
stone carving detail

The idea for A River Full Of Stories came about when many of the 2000 visitors to the Open Bridges exhibition inside Scale Lane Bridge told us fascinating tales of their lives working on and around the river.  With the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund A River Full Of Stories captures memories and stories to share with future generations through film, exhibition, website and a book for each library and museum in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Open Bridges made history when for the first time all 13 of the bridges over the River Hull in the UK’s City of Culture 2017 raised, swung or closed simultaneously splitting the city of Hull in two at 20:17 hours on 22nd September 2017.  Historic vessels sailed down the river, met by 21st century tugs, to the sound of a new musique concrète work by composer John Stead.

Open Bridges is an independent Hull/East Yorkshire based project.

Rich & Lou Duffy-Howard

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