County of northeast England, created in 1974 from most of the North Riding and parts of the East and West Ridings of Yorkshire (since April 1996 York has been a separate unitary authority).
Area 8,037 sq km/3,103 sq mi
Towns and citiesNorthallerton (administrative headquarters); resorts: Harrogate, Scarborough, Whitby
Physical England's largest county; rivers Derwent, Esk, Ouse; includes part of the Pennines; the Vale of York (a vast plain); the Cleveland Hills; North Yorkshire Moors, which form a national park (within which is Fylingdales radar station to give early warning – 4 minutes – of nuclear attack)
Features Rievaulx Abbey (1132); Yorkshire Dales National Park (including Swaledale, Wensleydale, and Bolton Abbey (1170) in Wharfedale); Fountains Abbey (1113) near Ripon, with Studley Royal Gardens (a World Heritage site); Castle Howard (1699), designed by Vanbrugh, has Britain's largest collection of 18th–20th-century costume; Battlefield Chamber at Ingleton, the largest accessible cavern in Britain
Agriculture cereals, dairy products (Vale of York, Pickering); wool and meat from sheep (North York Moors)
Industries footwear, clothing, plastics, foodstuffs, high technology industries, light industry
Population (2001) 570,100
Famous people Alcuin, W H Auden, Guy Fawkes
Topography North Yorkshire is divided into eight districts. The Pennines are in the west part of the county. There are several beautiful dales, which together constitute the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the principal ones being Swaledale, Wensleydale, Nidderdale, Airedale, and Ribblesdale. The relief of the east part of the county is varied. To the northeast are the Cleveland Hills and the valley of the River Esk, which flows to the North Sea; south of Esk lies Fylingdales Moor, the Hambleton Hills, and the North Yorkshire Moors. From these moors, several valleys, such as Bilsdale and Farndale, run down to the Vale of Pickering, through which runs the River Derwent, which flows southwest from near the coast to join the Ouse between Selby and Goole. The county extends south of the Vale of Pickering to the Yorkshire Wolds (an area of moorland). The coast from Runswick Bay in the north to Filey Bay in the south is varied; the stretch between Whitby and Scarborough, with its high cliffs, is especially attractive.
History Yorkshire as a whole formed part of the Brigantian kingdom with the Parisii on the Wolds and in Holderness. It was conquered by the Romans in the 1st century AD, and by the Danes in the 9th century, and came under the rule of Harold of England in 1066 after the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Large areas were devastated by the Normans. Since then the county has been the scene of many battles. During the Wars of the Roses one of the bloodiest battles ever to have been fought in Britain took place at Towton Field. During the Civil War the county was divided, and the principal battle was fought at Marston Moor, where the Royalists were defeated.
Historic monuments Important monuments in the county include the Roman town at Aldborough. Among many castles the best known are Richmond (1071), Bolton (1339), Skipton (11th century), Scarborough (12th century), and Knaresborough (14th century). The 12th-century Middleham Castle was a residence of Warwick ‘The King Maker’. Of the ecclesiastical remains the most important are the Cistercian abbeys of Fountains (1113), Rievaulx (1132), and Jervaulx (1156); the Augustinian priories of Bolton (1170) and Kirkham; and the Premonstratensian House at Easby. There are 11th-century Benedictine foundations at Selby and 14th-century remains at Whitby.
Tourism With its pleasant coastline, National Parks, and rural landscapes, North Yorkshire is an important centre for tourism. In addition to the coastal resorts at Scarborough and Whitby, several smaller places attract tourists. Visitors come to the numerous small market towns and villages within the two National Parks, and to nearby towns, particularly Richmond, Ripon, Harrogate with its Victorian Baths and Pump Room, and Pickering.
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