The information shown on these pages has been reproduced with the kind permission of Maurice H. Taylor, a local historian. Maurice has given the Ripon Online Project permission to use exerpts from his books, The Story of Ripon and Lewis Carroll's Ripon. For more details about the author and how to obtain copies of these books, please click here.
Ripon is a market town of some 14,000 inhabitants and is situated on the western edge of the Vale of York about 4 miles west of what has been, at least since Roman times, the main north-south route on the eastern side of the Pennines, whose foothills start just west of the city.

It lies on the River Skell, just west of its confluence with the Ure, and is at the focus of five main roads - the A61 (north) to the AI and Thirsk; the B6265 (east) to the AI, Boroughbridge and York; the A61 (south) to Harrogate and Leeds; the B6265 (west) to Pateley Bridge and Skipton; and the A6108 to Masham, Leybum and Wensleydale.
In the beginning...
Some 230 million years ago Ripon lay at the edge of a tropical sea. Quarry Moor formed the beach. When the upper rocks at Quarry Moor were formed the sea was beginning to dry up and become very salty. The crystals formed layers which eventually dissolved, the land above gave way and great holes formed. It is still happening today Garages collapse into a gypsum hole

Much later the meltwater from the Wensleydale glacier came down Skeldale, scoured out the valley and left its debris in the plain below. Remnants survive in the mound at Ailcey Hill, for example.

To the north and east of Ripon, earthworks and henges (the biggest group in the country) indicate occupation from the megalithic and bronze age periods.
1st Century BC Iron Age Sword
1st Century BC Iron Age Sword discovered in 1993
Axe heads and flints surface in the fields. A 'beaker' burial of a powerfully built young man was discovered in a gravel quarry at West Tanfield in 1973.
Two Roman roads pass within a few miles of Ripon and there is a tradition of a Roman ford about fifty yards below North Bridge. Some coins, pottery and a small funeral vase turned up in the 19th century. On the nearby moors two peat diggers unearthed the preserved body of a man wearing a toga. Two pigs of Roman lead were found. The remains of Roman buildings exist at Castle Dykes, Well, Sutton, Nutwith and Aldborough. Some mosaic tiling at St Mary Magdalen chapel is suggested as Roman. The crypt of the Cathedral, the oldest post-Roman vault to survive in England, contains re-used Roman stones and it is now suggested that the builders may Aconceivably have re-used a pre-existing Roman vault.
Following the River Ure, the Hrype tribe probably reached the Ripon area sometime in the sixth century to found a settlement close to its confluence with the River Skell. The town stands between 70 and 150 feet above sea level. The name "Ripon" comes from these northern European Angles.

About A.D.715 the settlement is called '(in)Hrypis'. Some 15 years later the Venerable Bede refers to 'Inhrypum'.
Kitchen's Map of 1764
Kitchen's map of 1764
(Click on Image to Enlarge)
At other times it has been called Hrypsaetna, Onhripum, Rhypum, Hryppun, Hrypon, Rhypon, Ripum, Ripun, and of course, Rippon. The second 'p' disappeared around 1800 but both forms overlapped for a while.
© Maurice H Taylor 2000
Please click here for details of the Author
In the Beginning Custom and Tradition
The Church The Administration
The Hospital Chapels Law and Order
The Market Town and City