Bones were chilling memorial of a village that died
They are towns and villages lost for ever, their buildings now a forgotten part of history, their people - and their stories - forgotten.
Yet once these were thriving communities on the very edge of Yorkshire.
But over the centuries they were to become the victims of nature, places invaded by the North Sea or the turbulent waters of the River Humber and washed away.
In this special section Yorkshire Pride takes a look back in time at the lost towns of our county's coast, recalling places which are now the stuff of local legend and which now form part of Yorkshire's lost heritage...
From the beach they could be clearly seen, sticking through the boulder clay of the cliff, starkly white against the brown of the mud.
These were bones of people who once lived in the little Yorkshire coastal town of Owthorne in some old records spelled Outhorne).
Like many other Yorkshire coast communities Owthorne was a victim of the sea, unable to prevent the continual encroachment of the waves and one which finally paid the ultimate price.
As the waves came in so followed the human tragedy. Bodies, coffins and bones were said to hage been strewn across the sand to be washed away for ever.
The people of whom these were the only remains were residents who had been buried in the little church dedicated to St Peter.
A book of 1846 would record: "The parish has a small village near the sea cliffs five miles north east of Patrington and contains 466 inhabitants including the townships of South Frodingham,Rimswell and Waxholme.
"Its own township contains only about 900 acres being subject to continual waste from the encroachments of the ocean.
"The old parish church was washed down on the night of February 16, 1816 and in the spring of 1844 the parsonage house and two cottages shared the same fate..."
Old record show that in 1805 the church steeple was 22 yards from the edge of the shallow cliff. Nine yearslater the sea had advanced so much that it stood only eight yards from the edge.
The end came during a violent storm.
In his book The Lost Towns of the Yorkshire Coast published in 1912 former Hull Museums curator Tom Sheppard would say: "The waves having undermined the foundations, a large part of the eastern end of the church fell with an awful crash and was washed down the cliff into the sea.
"Many coffins and bodies in various states of preservation were dislodged from their gloomy repositories and strewn upon the shore in frightful disorder."
Thriving villages taken by the river
They were thriving communities, set in rich farmland across the northern bank of the Humber estuary. They were also doomed to die.
Typical was Tharlesthorp, south of the village of Patrington, today well known for its magnificent historic church.
Tharlsthorp thrived until the sea began to inavade the landscape in the 13th Century.
To the monks of the great abbey of Meaux this was an important farming centre, yielding large amounts of corn. Rich grassland provided excellent grazing for sheep and the farmers of Tharlesthorp had a flock of 1,274 animals in the year 1277.
But this farmer's dream was to be short lived. For the Humber which threw up the land on which Tharsthorp stood then began to take it back. Like neighbouring villages such as Frismersk, Penisthorpe and East Somerte, Tharsthorp could never survive.
The killer blow came to Tharlesthorpe in the middle of the 13th Century when for two days and nights violent gales swept across the area, whipping up the waves of the estuary and forcing them ashore. Two great gullies were formed and as the winds began to subside "a great multitude of labourers at great cost" was called to the scene to try to block the waters.
But that was not enough. The elements had rendered homes uninhabitable. The area was by now devoid of human activity, and the waters relentlessly continued their devastation. By the 14th Century Tharlesthorpe wasdeead.
The river also claimed Burstall or Birstal, a small community once nestling within the hook of Spurn.
Nearby a priory, stone from which was used in an attempt to to build defences against the waters fell into ruin, one writer stating: "The priory is swept away by the frightful encroachments of the sea and from the numerous relics and fragments of other times washed upon the shore below Welwick it is conjectured that this must have been the site of a populous place..."
Written by The Editor - 01/11/2002 21:05:43
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