1) In regions where the soil was acid, our ancestors spread ‘marl’ or calcareous clay on new clearances.
c.1323 ‘sufficient marl for marling the land from the marlpit formerly belonging to William son of Roold’, Burton Constable. In 1510, William Amyas of Horbury granted land in Hartshead to the Dean & Chanons of Seint Stephyn’s in Westminster which he claimed to have mended by reason of marling, to the valew of xiijs iiijd: in 1582, John Kaye of Woodsome wrote: I set xxx loades of m[ar]le in the Spring Inge banke. He also marlyd and stubbyd Ryshworth Yng and the Mylner Hill ... and made yt plowghable and sett in ytt of marle and Lyme xxxiij loods. The proportion there was usually ten loads of marl to one of lime, but marling may not have been carried out on a regular basis, unlike liming. John Kaye also recorded setting many loods of Pomfrett marle ... in the Ladie Roods and thre Litle Clossis adioyning. Pontefract is twenty miles from Woodsome and it draws attention to those places where marl could be extracted. In 1341, Roundhay Park had its Merlepytte and in 1495 John Bradford possessed 3˝ acres in the feldes of Pomfrett nere the marl pyttes. The practice was evidently much older: 1236 Marleflatte, Fyling
1296 Marleriding, Acaster Malbis. In 1570, there was a field called marlepit felde in Barwick in Elmet and other minor place-names include: 1572 Merled field, Hipperholme
1621 Marlepighell, Whitley. Typically, ‘marled’ soon became ‘marl[e]’ and the field name Marl Close is often the only reminder of a vanished practice.