“YOUR enthusiasm for Bilsdale has run away with you a little,” says Alison Clarke, who in the early 1970s was an archaeologist who worked on the cruck house at Spout House.

It was our contention that William the Conqueror was in fact conquered by the dale, thus giving the dale its name.

We said that when Bill was trying to subdue the Tees Valley, he got lost in a blizzard in the dale, and was so angry that he went round swearing very colourfully – “like billy-o” – and the dale was given his name: Bill’s dale.

“Turning to my trusty The Place Names of the North Riding of Yorkshire by AH Smith, 1979, I see that the name Bilsdale is derived from “Bild's valley”. The first element being the Old Norse personal name Bildr. It does seem unlikely that the local inhabitants didn't have a name for their dale until William came along.”

Although it is still possible that William did run into difficulties in the area, the Normans were not the first to conquer the dale – a Viking called Bildr got there first.