Latin, Crave, Cravescire.

Broadly speaking, Craven is the area better known as the Yorkshire Dales. The name is probably an ancient Celtic one meaning 'garlic place'.

In Domesday Book, the Wapentake of Craven is described under the West Riding but included a small part of Lancashire. In one entry, Craven is described as Cravenshire (YKS SW,Cr1), one of only two such ancient shire names recorded in Domesday Book.

According to Domesday, Craven was a desert in 1086, entirely denuded of population and resources: not a single human being or animal is recorded. Most historians have interpreted this situation as the effect of the Conqueror's 'harrying of the north' in 1069-70, though some believe that the apparent desolation of the area is due more to defects in the Domesday record than to the ravaging of Norman armies.

For more detail on the area, see Arthur Raistrick, The Pennine Dales (1968); and for the debate over the 'harrying', see R. Welldon Finn, The Norman Conquest and its effects on the economy, 1066-1086 (1971); D.M. Palliser, 'Domesday Book and the harrying of the north', Northern History, vol. 29 (1993), pages 1-23; and John J.N. Palmer, 'War and Domesday waste', in Armies, chivalry and warfare in medieval Britain and France, edited by Matthew Strickland (1998), pages 256-78.

See also shire, waste.