Background: 1066, Harold Godwinson lost in battle to William the Bastard (an apt name, as you will soon see). As you can imagine the English population wasn’t too happy with some jumped-up French(ish) men claiming rule over them. No-one less so than the Anglo-Danes of Danelaw, the modern North. They had a sort of independence under Anglo-Saxon rule, and the Normans were having none of it. So William decided (after many threats of rebellion), to issue a warning to the North. How would he do that? Take a section of land (The Humber to The Tees (North Yorkshire mostly)) and annihilate it. The largest genocide in British History. Then kill all the live stock. Salt the lands. Make it impossible for the remaining people to find food. They resorted to cannibalism. Needless to say, the Geordies, Cumbrians, Lancastrians, Scousers and Mancunians decided not to rebel after that.
Crops could not grow in salted lands. But hardier shrubs could, and the remaining Yorkshiremen could recolonise and start a new economy of niche products—grouse, lavender and other shrubby things. So when the soil became fertile again, they didn’t change it back to farmland (more or less). And so now we have the Moors and Dales, which are proud parts of Yorkshire heritage and countryside. Its the ability to take an atrocity and make the most of it. (Still compared to the rest of England, North Yorkshire has a very low density, as one can imagine it would given its history).
So what William the Bastard had done in slaying an entire population, was provide their progeny and future inhabitants of Yorkshire gorgeous countryside scenery.
A brief lesson in how history shapes the land and vice versa.