The medieval church of St Mary Magdalene is situated on the south-east side of Over Silton in North Yorkshire. It can only be reached on foot by walking across a grassy field, from either the village or Kirk Ings Lane, a minor road just to the south.
The Osmotherley and Kepwick walk in the North York Moors includes a visit to the ancient church, a look at the lovely villages of Kepwick, Nether Silton and Over Silton and an excellent high-level trek across Black Hambleton on the Cleveland Way.
Sitting in a natural bowl in the landscape, Silton is first mentioned in the Saxon chronicles as the place where the high sheriffs of Northumbria ‘committed to flames’ Alderman Bern in 780AD. The name Silton could originate from the Anglian word ‘scelf’ (meaning terrain shelf), or it could be Danish, with ‘Silt’ being a person’s name and ‘ton’ referring to a village or settlement.
It’s not known when St Mary’s was founded. The oldest existing part of the church is the nave from the 12th century. However, there is evidence that it was built on the site of an earlier place of worship, as near the door in the wall of the nave there are re-used stones dating from before the Norman Conquest in 1066.
To the west of the church are terraces or ‘lynchets’ which were formed as a result of repeated ploughing in the same direction over many years. They may have been used to plant cereal crops and probably date from the 10th to the 12th century. The effort that would have gone into creating these terraces suggests that a growing population was putting pressure on food production and thus forcing the cultivation of difficult land.
The Friends of Over Silton Church is a group formed to help maintain and preserve St Mary’s. With a dwindling congregation, the church would have inevitably become redundant, resulting in complete closure. Members of the group raise funds to keep the building in good order as well as researching the history of the church. Visit https://oversiltonchurch.com for more information.
Look at these walking guides
Three very good paperbacks from the Amazon Cicerone store. There are many others to choose from. Although I make up my own walking routes, I regularly look at these guides for inspiration.