The remote manor of Marrick in Swaledale, North Yorkshire, was most notable for centuries for the mining of lead in its vicinity. Although the evidence for lead mining there during the Roman occupation is slight, it was certainly being undertaken by the time of the Norman conquest. A century later, in about 1165, a priory for Benedictine nuns was established at Marrick, substantially supported by income deriving from the local lead mines. In 1540 the Priory's closure was brought about by Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries. A complex history of changing ownership of the valuable surrounding lands then began, continuing until the nineteenth century decline of lead production in the area.
The Marrick Priory documents in Leeds University Library (which are complemented by a companion collection in the library of Hull University) provide an essential resource for studying the history of the area. A broadly chronological selection of images of the original documents is presented here to introduce and illustrate the archive; the examples are typical of their kinds.
The earliest document in the Leeds collection is of c.1170, a charter of Helia, son of Philip de Morton, confirming a gift of "two bovates of land" to the nuns of Marrick. The Priory had recently been founded by Roger Aske, grandson of another Roger, to whom the manor had been granted by the Crown shortly after 1100.
The Library gratefully acknowledges a generous grant from The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation in 2002-03 to enable the full conservation of the Marrick Priory documents and the preparation of this account of them. For further information about the documents and access to additional images, please contact Special Collections.