Secret Richmond & Swaledale by Andrew Graham Stables (£14.99, Amberley Publishing)

THE books in this series are always packed full of fascinating facts. Here are ten that came tumbling out of the pages about Richmond and Swaledale:

1. Walls

A SURVEY in 1988 found more than 8,000km of drystone walling in the Yorkshire Dales.

2. Gilling

IN the 650s AD, a monastery was established at Ingethlingum – now called Gilling West – and Trumhere was the first abbot. It was probably destroyed by Viking raiders in the 9th Century, although the church of St Agatha is probably on its site.

Then the village – by now called Ghellinges – became the chief seat of Edwin, the Saxon Earl of Mercia. This is probably why just above Gilling there's a place called Castle Hill.

However, after the Norman invasion, Earl Edwin's land was given Lord Alan Rufus who decided to build his castle in Richmond.

3. Fake views

ONE of the most wonderful views from the B6270 which winds along the Swale valley bottom is of Ellerton Priory, with a couple of cedars growing through the nave of a ruined church. This priory was founded in 1200 and was the smallest and poorest in Yorkshire.

The last of its white-clad nuns was Joan Harkey who handed it over for dissolution in 1537 and received a £3 pension – she died in poverty in Richmond.

The Erle-Drax family built the nearby house in 1830 and modified what was left of the priory so that the 13th Century tower became an idealised romantic ruin that is still grabbing the traveller's attention.

4. Walburn Hall

ANOTHER landmark location is this curious 15th Century hall, with a crenelated wall, beside a bridge over a beck on a sharp turn of the A6108 out of Downholme.

Beneath the fields is a lost medieval village which once had two rows of house facing each other with a wide village green and the stream running through the middle.

Mary, Queen of Scots, once stayed at Walburn Hall and the sharp turn is where the medieval main road once went direct into Richmond.

5. Famous last words

ON January 29, 1820, King George III uttered: "Oh! For a breath of Gatherley air." Then he died. He was referring to the moor to the east of Richmond which now has the A1(M) driven through it – he would have known it as his main road to Scotland. When he died George was, of course, mad.

6. Heights of folly

WHEN Sir Lawrence Dundas bought Aske Hall, between Richmond and Gilling, in 1763, he employed Lancelot "Capability" Brown to recreate the landscape – a remodelling that took at least 50 years.

However, from outside the hall's walls, the most eye-catching aspect is the eye-catcher on Pilmoor Hill: the Oliver Duckett, which is a folly fortress built by the previous owner of Aske, Sir Conyers D'Arcy a few years before the sale.

It is a round tower with gun holes in it and it is made with stone taken from Richmond Castle.

"Duckett" may have been a local pronunciation of "dovecote", and there is the Aske estate hamlet of Olliver – with two els – just below the Oliver Duckett.

7. Groovy Grove

THE Grove is a large, raised mansion at the foot of Frenchgate with great views over the Swale. It was built in 1750 by Caleb Readshaw, a mayor of Richmond, who made his money by exporting locally knitted woollen caps and stockings to the Low Countries. It is made of fashionable red bricks, which were made in a nearby kiln, and it once had a grove of trees in its back garden.

8. Very old man

HENRY JENKINS, of Ellerton-on-Swale near Scorton, claimed to have been born in 1500. He carried arrows to the English archers at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513, swam in rivers when he was 100, and in 1667 appeared in court and claimed to be "one hundred and fifty seaven or thereabouts". He died in December 1670 aged 169, and in 1743 a memorial obelisk was erected over his grave in Bolton-on-Swale church.

9. Riding the Stang

AS regular readers will know, "riding the stang" was a riotous folk punishment for those deemed guilty of adultery. In 1867 in Frenchgate, 400 people rode the stang outside the house of Mrs Moore, whose effigy they burned, to highlight her crimes. In 1900 at Stainmore, on the A66, the married vicar fell in love with the much younger schoolmistress. Six local people rode the stang and appeared in court charged with lashing the naughty vicar to a gate and taking him to face his wife.

10. Crackpot Hall

FOLLOWING on from the previous page, Crackpot, which is high above the Swale near Muker, is probably Viking for "a deep hole or chasm that is a haunt of crows". Crackpot was probably originally a 16th Century hunting lodge. It has an air of remoteness about it, and in the 1930s, a "wild child" was found roaming the moors of Crackpot. She is believed to have been Alice Harker, who was born in the semi-derelict hall, and she made the national news by turning feral.

IF Richmond is not your locality, how about either Middlesbrough, Gateshead , York or Harrogate in 50 Buildings – these are potted, pictureful books telling the story of a town through its most prominent buildings (Memories would not dare draw Darlington in 50 Buildings to your attention because that would look too much like self-publicity).

Then there's 50 Gems of Northumberland by Steve Ellwood which continues the revelation that at Elsdon, near Otterburn, there remains a gibbet from which the body of William Winter was dangled in 1792. He and his sisters, Jane and Eleanor, had murdered an elderly lady. All three were hanged but the girls' bodies were given to the barber surgeons for dissection but his was publicly displayed on a gibbet near the scene of the crime.

South Tyneside Pubs by Eileen Burnett details nearly 70 pubs whereas Jarrow at Work by Paul Perry looks at that Tyneside town's employment from its pre-industrial beginnings to the explosion of shipbuilding. All these titles are published by Amberley for £14.99.

In the publisher's pocket-sized series for £7.99 are history tours of York, by Paul Chrystal, and Whitby, by Robin Cook, which guide people around the towns by showing old photographs.

More local history books next week.