Monk Fryston Time Team became the local custodians of the records and information collected by Hillam Historians in their 10 years of existence between 2002 and 2012.
The Historians did not want their collection to be deposited in the county archive at Northallerton because they wanted the information to be easily accessible to any local person who wanted to examine them and also they did not want them to be ‘lost and forgotten forever’ 50 miles away.
The story of Hillam Historians is uncannily similar to that of the MF Time Team. It was sparked by resident’s curiosity and nurtured by Hillam Parish Council who acted to bring together long term and new residents to research and capture the known history of the village.
Like the Time Team, the Historians found that existing information about the Hillam was very sparse indeed. The earliest evidence and reference to the existence of the village is in the same document as that of Fryssetune in 963. However, what they did find was a rich stream of local knowledge from the long term residents about a farming village which was rapidly changing and they set about capturing the information in oral and written formats. They also carried out diligent research work into the redundant and demolished Methodist chapel, the former RoseLea private school, the church records related to Hillam residents and of Hillam residents who served in the two World Wars.
This information and lots more was captured in a book which they published in 2004 called Hillam: A Village Remembered which was almost immediately sold out. This was followed in 2005 with the production and publication of an illustrated walking guide of the village, describing its key buildings. This was so successful that it was reprinted in 2006. The book is out of print now but no doubt there are copies in private hands around the Village. The walking guide is on sale at the Village Stores Monk Fryston.
After these successes the Historians turned their attention to the physical heritage by fully restoring the Village Water pump and later replacing the directional Finger Post with a heritage design.
One of the contributors to A Village Remembered was Hillam Historians Secretary Jenny Hoare who wrote a chapter entitled 'Hillam Early History' and it captures the frustration felt by everyone whose common sense tells you this village obviously has a long history but it can't be found when she wrote “… our village has not been investigated, and moreover not a single find of any artefact has been brought to our notice.”
A few years later, when the MF Time Team was established and had access to the enormous investigative power of the internet they found that the 1320 Edward II survey of the Extent of Monk Fryston included Hillam and it provided a fascinating insight into the feudal life of the people of Hillam. Jenny’s common sense had been proven correct and Hillam did have a rich earlier history .....it is just waiting to be rediscovered.
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