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It is tempting to think of the modern dalesfolk as latter-day Vikings, but this would not be true. There was a dash of Celts, Angles and Danes as well as Norsefolk in their make-up. Just as the Dales sheep evolved to suit their habitat, tending to be small, agile and able to thrive where many another breed of sheep would starve, so the old Dales families have been moulded - though mentally rather than physically! - by landscape and climate, and especially by the long northern winter. As one dalesman said: "Anybody can farm when it's sunny."

For centuries, each dale seem to live largely for itself, and people found their life's partners from among their own communities. There was a family flavour. In recent times, following the transport revolution and greater mobility, an even greater mix-up of people has occurred. At one upland farm I was introduced to a farmer's wife who was a native of New Zealand. The Young Farmers' Club movement introduced young people to potential partners living in the next-but-one dale.

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