AN appeal has gone out for help to solve the mystery surrounding a piece of Yorkshire Dales history.

The Swaledale Tournament of Song Shield was discovered during a clean-out of an old chicken shed near Topcliffe, North Yorkshire.

Historians are baffled over how the shield came to be in the barn.

They are also unclear about the history of the tournament, which was held in Swaledale in the first half of the 20th Century.

The names of some of the winning choirs have been engraved on to plaques on the side of the shield.

Former winners between 1908 and 1937 include the Mowbray Chorus, Northallerton Music Society, Thirsk Choral Society, Catterick Choral Society and Northallerton Congregational Choir.

The top plaque, for 1907, is missing. It is not known if this was the first year the tournament was held or who the winners were.

The shield was passed to Alan Nuttall, of Thirsk Rotary Club, by the farmer who found it.

He decided the shield should go back to Swaledale.

Noticing that the Richmond Musical Society had won in 1934 and 1935, he searched for them on the internet.

This led him to Richmondshire Choral Society and its chairwoman, Janet Hall.

She discussed the shield with fellow board members of the Swaledale Festival, and it was decided the best home for it would be the Swaledale Museum, in Reeth.

Museum curator Helen Clifford said: “We would love to hear from anyone who has any information about the Swaledale Tournament of Song, its history, or photographs of the winning choirs.”

The shield is decorated with an embossed silver crest depicting brass instruments, and a tiny musical score of the National Anthem.

Anyone with information about the shield or tournament, can email museum. The shield will be on display when the museum reopens at Easter.