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1 - Introduction

Over the years, many people have visited Stillington, and each has seen it differently.  Thomas Gill in his 1852 history Vallis Eboracensis saw it as a wild place.  A village within the ancient royal hunting preserve, the Forest of Galtres, getting its name from 'the stealing town, where tradition says the original settlers obtained a livelihood by robbing the King's forest of its deer'.  Unfortunately for Gill's theory, the village was here and called Stillington, before the Normans set up their royal hunting forests, and before taking wild game became an offence. 

 Oswald Harland, researching for a 1951 book on the North Riding, visited and found a village which, in his words, 'I had always understood, was dull, and a trifle arid.  I found it pleasing enough, though I don't think I should ever want to live there.'

 So what is the truth? - Gill's romantic village of rogues, living like Robin Hood, or Harland's sleepy little village where nothing happens?  The truth, as ever, is somewhere in between.  A thriving, active village for over 1,000 years, with for the times, a fairly large population. Nearly, but not quite, caught up in the Industrial Revolution. 

 With the end of the second millennium, in an era of almost unprecedented social change, the village decided it would like to mark the occasion by writing a village history.  The question then arose, when do you start and finish a history?  Trying to write a comprehensive history would be a major project.  It would either have to be a very large book, or would have to miss out much detail.  It was necessary to be selective.  We have gone from the era of the horse to the space age within living memory, and the rate of change is such that things that were once taken so much for granted that they were not recorded, are in danger of becoming lost. 

 The Village History Group decided to take a very generous interpretation of 'a lifetime', and produce a snapshot of village life in North Yorkshire over the last lifetime or so.