Otterburn Beck, north of Otterburn
Location within North Yorkshire
OS grid referenceSD883578
Civil parish
  • Otterburn
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townSKIPTON
Postcode districtBD23
PoliceNorth Yorkshire
FireNorth Yorkshire
List of places
54°01′00″N 2°10′47″W / 54.01668°N 2.17982°W / 54.01668; -2.17982Coordinates: 54°01′00″N 2°10′47″W / 54.01668°N 2.17982°W / 54.01668; -2.17982

Otterburn (historically known as Otterburn-in-Craven)[1] is a village and civil parish in the Craven district of North Yorkshire, England. It is at OS Grid Reference SD8857, near Airton, Calton and the A65. The village is 9 miles (14 km) north west of Skipton[2] and 1.9 miles (3 km) east of Hellifield.[3]

At the 2011 census the population was less than 100, so the details are included in the civil parish of Airton.


The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book, when it was listed as Otreburne and belonging to Roger de Poitou.[4] The name Otterburn derives from Otter Stream, which is the beck that flows through the village.[5] Otterburn Beck, as the stream is now known, drains a catchment covering over 7.3 square miles (19 km2) and flows south east, covering a distance of 9.6 miles (15.5 km) before running into the River Aire at Bell Busk.[6]

The low-lying pasture land between Otterburn and Bell Busk along which the Otterburn Beck travels, has been known to flood dramatically, with a particular great flood in July 1881. Speight postulates that the land is prone to flooding as it was the site of a lake in ancient times.[7] As flooding here can have a detrimental effect on the downstream locations, it has been suggested as a possible tree-planting area to help alleviate flooding in times of high rainfall.[8][9]

A Poll Tax in the 14th century determined that 14 families lived there with one being a blacksmith.[10] It was also known as being the centrepoint of the Deanery of Craven.[11] Historically, the land was divided between the monasteries of Fountains Abbey and Bolton Abbey.[12] After the Dissolution of the Monasteries (c. 1538), the land was leased to John Lambert of Calton for 60 years.[13]

In 1885, a large Neolithic barrow was discovered in a field to the south of the village. It was described as being perfectly circular and had a diameter of 30 yards (27 m). The site is now a scheduled ancient monument.[7][14]

Otterburn was originally in the historic county of the West Riding of Yorkshire,[15] but was moved into North Yorkshire when the boundary changes approved in 1973 came into effect in 1974.[16] As the population of the village numbered less than 100 people at the 2011 census, the village was included in the civil parish of Airton for census purposes.[17] However, in 2015, North Yorkshire County Council estimated the population of the village to number 40 people, a drop from 50 recorded at the 2011 census.[18]


  1. ^ Speight 1892, p. 353.
  2. ^ "Genuki: In 1822, the following places were in the Parish of Kirkby Malhamdale:, Yorkshire (West Riding)". Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  3. ^ "103" (Map). Blackburn & Burnley, Clitheroe & Skipton. 1:50,000. Landranger. Ordnance Survey. 2016. ISBN 9780319262016.
  4. ^ "Otterburn | Domesday Book". Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  5. ^ Ekwall, Eilert (1960). The concise Oxford dictionary of English place-names (4 ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 353. ISBN 0-19-869103-3.
  6. ^ "Otterburn Beck from Source to River Aire". Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  7. ^ a b Speight 1892, p. 309.
  8. ^ "Flood defence tree planting proposal". BBC News. 13 September 2017. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  9. ^ Bridgen, Mike (1 August 2013). "New woodland grants". Darlington and Stockton Times. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  10. ^ "Walking: Take this Yorkshire escape route to a more laid-back world". Yorkshire Evening Post. 11 May 2018. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  11. ^ Speight 1892, p. 306.
  12. ^ Speight 1892, p. 308.
  13. ^ Hoyle, Richard (1989). "Monastic Leasing Before the Dissolution; the Evidence of Bolton Priory and Fountains Abbey". The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal. London: YAJ. 61: 127. ISSN 0084-4276.
  14. ^ Historic England. "Crane Field round barrow (1010448)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  15. ^ "History of Otterburn, in Craven and West Riding | Map and description". Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  16. ^ Chrystal, Paul (2017). The Place Names of Yorkshire; Cities, Towns, Villages, Rivers and Dales, some Pubs too, in Praise of Yorkshire Ales (1 ed.). Catrine: Stenlake. p. 100. ISBN 9781840337532.
  17. ^ UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Airton Parish (E04007054)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  18. ^ "2015 Population Estimates Parishes" (PDF). December 2016. p. 10. Retrieved 27 July 2019.