The saetr was a shieling, or a place where the Norseman summered his animals. In Wensleydale there are four villages with the "sett" ending - all in the area near to Semerwater (see my earlier blog). The nearest, which sits almost on the edge of the lake, is Marsett; Countersett is just back from the lake side, up a hill; Burtersett and Appersett are a little further afield. All are evidence that the Norsemen settled all over this area. I wonder how many of the really local people have Viking blood.
Appersett is a mile to the West of the market town of Hawes (home to Wensleydale cheese). The village has only a dozen or so houses and it sits on the bend of a tributary of the River Ure, just before the two combine. Interestingly, it has a big, communal village green where people leave their cars, dry their washing, kennel their dogs - I can't help but wonder if that was originally the shieling.
Burtersett is a couple of miles east of Hawes and sits on the side of a hill overlooking the valley of the River Ure in a part where there is a classic meander. This would have been an excellent place to look out for trouble brewing in the valley.
Marsett has only about a dozen houses and is by far the most remote. There is a road into the village and the same road out. From Marsett to go on into Raydale and a few isolated farms, you need to take a dirt track or a footpath. In the years when snow fell in huge quantities up here Marsett would be cut off from the world for weeks at a time. There are stories of postmen with bicycles trecking through the snow on Christmas morning to deliver a few cards and staying on to eat Christmas dinner with the families.
The photographs today are of Countersett, which, although a very small village, seems always to have been a thriving community. This was in large part due to The Quakers, who had a big following in this area. The Friends' Meeting House in Countersett was built in 1710 and in 1772 they also built a school in the village - a very forward-thinking thing for that time, I would have thought. It is a pretty village, built high on the side of a hill overlooking the lake but then down in a dip so that it is sheltered. It really nestles into the side of the hill very neatly. The photographs are taken from the road , looking down on the village.
I took the photographs two weeks ago. There is a timeless quality about Countersett. It even has a VR postbox let into the wall - there aren't many of those left!