Hebden is a small village and civil parish in the Craven district of North Yorkshire, England, and one of four villages within the ecclesiastical parish of Linton. It lies near Grimwith Reservoir and Grassington, in Wharfedale, within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. In 2001 it had a population of 216 and 133 dwellings.
The village has its recognisable roots in manorial times, but during the 19th century it became a substantial industrial village with lead mining and cotton milling as the main industries. Since then it has reverted to a small rural community.
The name Hebden may be derived from either heope, Old English for a rose-hip or heopa, Old English for a bramble, and dene, Old English for a valley, or from the Scandinavian Hebban, a topographical description of a ridge forming an elevated site above a small valley. Two Bronze Age stone circles and remnants of huts on the moors above the village show that the area has been settled since earliest times,
and a hoard of 33 silver dinari dating from 30 to 170 AD found in a local field indicates that the Romans had a presence.
An Iron Age or Romano-British settlement has been tentatively identified on the banks of Gate Up Gill on the moors to the north-west of the village. Place names such as Scale Haw indicate the Norse left their influence. There is no documentary record of the area until a mention in the Domesday Book of 1086, in which the settlement was referred to as Hebedene held by Osbern d'Arques, of Thorpe Arch. At the time of the Conquest the land was held by Dreng, which is a Nordic Name.
During medieval times, an important east-west droving route used to move sheep between winter pastures around Fountains Abbey and summer pastures around Malham, crossed the Hebden Beck at Hebden. It broadly followed the line of the North Craven Fault avoiding the moorland peat bogs, and became a busy packhorse route for traders.
Although no property in the village is older than the early 17th century, its layout reflects its development in medieval times as a planned village. Eight toft compartments are discernible to the west of Main Street, and the outline of the four surrounding common fields, now divided, may be identified from the pattern of dry stone walls. The fields were largely arable, providing the village with most of its food requirements, but are now farmed exclusively for pasture and hay. The village manor house was on land now occupied by Hebden Hall at the south end of Main Street.
The last stretch of Hebden Beck before it reaches the River Wharfe was used to power a corn mill in the Middle Ages, and corn milling survived into the middle of the 19th century. In the 14th century Fountains Abbey had a fulling mill in the village. In 1791 a three-storey cotton mill was built alongside the corn mill. It housed 54 spinning frames and was productive until 1870 when it was driven out of business by the more efficient stream-driven machinery of the industrial revolution. At its peak, the mill employed more than 70 men, women, and children. The building was used for other purposes including a roller skating rink until it was demolished in 1967.
Lead mining on Grassington Moor became important in the 18th century, and as a result of the mines' success, a number of the mine owners promoted the provision of the Grassington to Pately Bridge turnpike road, which was begun in 1760 and provided an all-weather route across the moors for wagons. From the early 19th century Hebden was a dormitory village for some miners, contributing to the population rising to more than 500 in the 1830s. In the early 1850s profitable mines were established in the parish to the north of the village on veins associated with Grassington Moor, which helped sustain the population. Although activity continued sporadically into the last decade of the century, the accessible ore was largely exhausted by 1865, and the population declined to a low of 199 in 1901.
The coming of the Yorkshire Dales Railway to Threshfield in 1902 opened up Hebden as a destination for day visitors and holiday makers. A purpose-built timber guest house opened in 1909 at the south end of the village to cater for the demand, and continued in business, mainly catering for school parties, until 1990.
Although it now has a number of second homes, holiday cottages and commuters, with eight working farms, a fish farm, coach and haulage companies, Hebden remains a working and thriving community.