Many thanks to Valerie Taylor
for facilitating this camera's location and to The Yorkshire Dales River Trust
for capitally funding it's installation. The River Swale is a major tributary of the River Ure, which becomes the River Ouse, that empties into the North Sea via the Humber Estuary. The river gives its name to Swaledale, the valley through which it flows. The river and its valley are home to many types of flora and fauna typical to the Yorkshire Dales. Like similar rivers in the region, the river carves through several types of rock and has features typical of both river and glacial erosion. The River Swale has been a contributory factor in the settlements that have been recorded throughout its history. It has provided water to aid in the raising of crops and livestock, but also in the various mining activities that have occurred since Roman times and before. The river is said to be the fastest flowing in England and its levels have been known to rise 10 feet in 20 minutes. Annual rainfall figures average 1800 mm p.a. in the headwaters and 1300 mm p.a. in the lower waters over a drop of 148 m in 32 km. The earliest evidence of occupation in the river valley can be dated to the Mesolithic and Neolithic Ages with the discovery of flint tools and arrowheads. Around Harkerside are some small stone circles that date to the Bronze Age and some Iron Age defensive earthworks. Evidence of lead mining has been traced back to Roman times with finds at the Hurst mine. This industry seemed to decline until after the Norse (Danish) invasions of the area. During the major ecclesiastical building of the 12th and 13th centuries, lead became a valuable commodity and mining once again increased in the valley. Evidence of the lead mining can still be seen from the remains of the 18th-century practice of 'hushing' that involved creating turf dams across gills that were then released to wash away topsoil to expose the ore veins. It was part of the Votadini Celtic kingdom of Catraeth, but in the late 6th century the river valley was invaded by Angles who took the settlement at Catraeth (now Catterick). Warriors from the Celtic Gododdin kingdom to the north attempted to dislodge them, but failed to do so at the Battle of Catraeth. The Angles then established themselves at Reeth, Stainton, Grinton Bridge and Fremington. By the mid-9th century the area had been invaded by Norsemen who settled first the lower and then the upper valley. After the Norman invasion, the lands of the valley were given to Alan the Red of Brittany who built the castle at Richmond between 1071 and 1091. It was built on a bluff overlooking the River Swale. In the 7th century, St Paulinus supposedly immersed thousands of people in a baptismal rite at Brompton-on-Swale and further downstream at Brafferton. Because so many had been baptised in this way, 19th-century writers have labelled the Swale as England's River Jordan. Mass baptisms are still carried out in the river around the Catterick Bridge area.