1) The verb to bark was to treat a skin with bark, to tan it.
1476 any of the saide leder not sufficiantly barked, York. An ordinance at York in 1500 concerned the use of sheep skins in a variety of trades. It ordered that no glover, pouchemaker, sadeler, ne shomaker of this citie wyrk no shep skynnes barked opon payn of … 20d . The process is referred to in the will of a Whitby man: 1540 one hundrethe markes to be taken of suche lether as is in my barkehouse and such lether as is not fullie barkit and redie merchaunteable at the tyme of my deathe I will that it be fully barket and wrought of the costes of myne executors. In 1682, Mr Pilkington’s workmen were stripping bark in Bradley Wood when a body of armed men attacked them: the trespassers took away the barke which was pilled and then helped themselves to the men’s ladders and pilled severall Barkes of the trees and carried the same away.
2) The rough coating of the trunk of a tree, used in tanning.
The bark used in the tanning process was usually from the oak tree. In 1660, 18 hors skinnes, shott in the bark were valued at Ł3 12s. A Cottingley will of 1622 refers to barke unpilled and the will of George Cooke of Selby mentions a wagon with bark chopt and unchopt … 20 daiker of leather in the pitts and lime . Some earlier references are in Latin: 1309-10 Et de tanno quercuum vendito [apud Wygdon] xls or feature in the entries below.