Marsden was first mentioned by name as Marchdene (boundary valley) in a document of 1177. In 1067, the land had been given to Ilbert de Lacy. In 1424, rents were paid for farmsteads at Binn, Clough Lee, Wessenden, Wessenden Head, and Lingards.
In 1433, Henry VI leased Marsden to John of Nostell Priory, who cleared some of it for cultivation. In 1499, the King made Marsden a copyhold manor in the Honour of Pontefract. In the 14th Century, it was a forest hunting ground for the Lord of Pontefract, and the land provided pasture for 6 bulls and 26 cows, and pannage for swine.
Local placenames show that the valley was settled by Norse graziers, coming into the area from Cumbria, rather than lowland Danes from the east.
The early settlement pattern is that of scattered groups of homesteads and outlying farms. This pattern is still very recognisable today.