ON Easter Monday, a sign sprang up on the southern footing of Croft bridge welcoming people to the “Historic North Riding of Yorkshire”.

It was placed on the poles where there used to be a welcome to the now defunct council territory of Richmondshire. It is the first of many signs that the Yorkshire Ridings Society is going to be placing on old district council boundaries in the next 12 months.

The word “riding” comes from a Danish word “thridding” meaning “a third”. When the Vikings invaded, to govern the vast county of Yorkshire, 1,100 years ago, they divided it into thirds – north, west, east – with the boundaries of the ridings all meeting at the city walls of York, which was a separate administrative city.

In 1888, county councils were created bearing the names of the three ridings.

However, on April 1, 1974, the ridings were abolished in favour of a county and district council government structure.

“We would point out that the ridings are 1,100 years old and the county councils existed for less than 100 years – it is the county councils, not the ridings, that were abolished in 1974,” says Nigel Wilkin of the society.

“We are trying to get across the message that the ridings continue to exist unchanged as they have done for more than 1,000 years.

“This is fundamental to our identity, culture and history. I strongly argue that wherever we come from in England, Scotland or Wales, we are each part of a county, and if you take that away from people there is something missing – if you take Yorkshire out of me, I feel I have lost a leg.”