Skell Valley Project: Digging Deep in The Archives

The West Yorkshire Archive Service Leeds are proud to be a partner in the Skell Valley Project, run by the National Trust and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Sixteen organisations have come together to deliver this National Heritage Lottery Funded project focussing on 12 miles of the River Skell, running from Dallowgill Moor, through the World Heritage Site of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal and then into the City of Ripon.

“Digging Deep in the Archives” is one part of this project. The extensive archive of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal are owned by the West Yorkshire Archive Service Leeds and we aim to discover more about the history of the Skell Valley region using these fantastic records. With over 230 boxes of archives covering the 12th-20th centuries there will be lots to discover! The project aims to involve local community members, special interest groups and pupils in a research and recording project focussed on the heritage and landscape features of the Skell Valley.

During the Covid-19 pandemic a team of 70 fantastic volunteers started to painstakingly work through scans of uncatalogued letters and accounts from the 18th and 19th centuries deciphering and typing up the handwritten text to make the contents of each document fully searchable. The transcripts are being added to our archive database and will be made freely available on our online catalogue.

During the Digging Deep in the Archives project we will be using these transcripts and the original archives to research and learn about the landscape of the Skell Valley through time. Pop up exhibitions at Fountains Abbey and venues around the Skell Valley area will take place to highlight our findings. More details can be found on our online exhibitions page.

Digging Deep in the Archives Volunteers

We have a wonderful team of volunteers helping us to transcribe, and make accessible, the contents of the Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal estate archive. For those already involved in the project, full guidance on how transcribe the archives as part of this project can be found here:

Find out more about the Skell Valley Project from the National Trust’s website.