We Dig Community Countdown to Christmas

2018 has been a busy year for the Historic Environment team. Part of this has been due to the post-excavation work of the We Dig Community. We thought we would celebrate the countdown to Christmas Day by sharing some of the results of the test pitting project in Bainbridge. We discovered over 12,000 finds! For each day of advent we will look at the project and review a selection of these finds. Continue reading “We Dig Community Countdown to Christmas”

All Aboard the Longest Conservation Area

For September’s Site of the Month we are looking at something a little bit different. It is focused on the whole Settle to Carlisle Railway, which is still a working line today. It is also the longest Conservation Area in the UK! The construction of the railway has been described by some as one of the most extraordinary feats of Victorian railway engineering, and by others as one of the most foolhardy. Continue reading “All Aboard the Longest Conservation Area”

Digging at the Hagg in 2018

SWAAG, the Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Archaeology Group, recently completed their excavations at the Hagg for this year. SWAAG have been working at the site since 2009, which comprises a Romano-British farmstead. This year the dig took place for two weeks and made a number of interesting discoveries. The excavations are adding a wealth of new information about Romano-British life in the dales. At present our understanding of these sites in the dales generally is rather limited.

Continue reading “Digging at the Hagg in 2018”

The most unusual listed building in the Yorkshire Dales?

The rock garden at Aysgarth is one of the most unusual listed buildings in the Yorkshire Dales. Aysgarth Rockery is a picturesque alpine rockery that was built at the beginning of the 20th Century using blocks of limestone to create a rockscape and water feature. In May 2018 the Yorkshire Dales will be the inspiration for one of the show-gardens at RHS Chelsea. Continue reading “The most unusual listed building in the Yorkshire Dales?”

The Mill Under the Reservoir

Embsay with Eastby parish in the south of the National Park has a significant industrial heritage, with the Industrial Revolution resulting in several mills being built here. One, Whitfield Syke Mill, had a long and varied history as a spinning mill, a ‘health resort’ and home to the Navvy Mission Society – until it was demolished and flooded by the construction of Embsay Reservoir. Continue reading “The Mill Under the Reservoir”

A legendary home, fit for a king?

The long history of Pendragon Castle – a fortified tower-house in Mallerstang, Cumbria, dating from the twelfth century – has meant that it is steeped in mystery.

According to legend, the original castle was built by Uther Pendragon, father of King Arthur, in the fifth century. It is rumoured to have been the site of Uther’s death – along with 100 of his men – when a well was poisoned by the Saxons.

It is said that Uther unsuccessfully tried to divert the river to provide the castle’s moat, and this is recalled in a well-known local couplet: “Let Uther Pendragon do what he can/ Eden will run where Eden ran”.

However, there is currently no evidence to support the legend that there was a castle here before the twelfth century.

Continue reading “A legendary home, fit for a king?”

The Yorkshire Dales Remember

The First and Second World Wars left visible scars on the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales, ensuring that the people who live in this area will never forget the sacrifice made by our forefathers for our freedom today. We take a look at some of those sites that were used during the World Wars or that now commemorate them.

War memorials come in a variety of forms, and you can see many examples of these throughout the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The Second World War memorial plaque in Aysgarth

The War Memorial in Aysgarth was erected after the First World War when the villagers joined together to carry the blocks from the nearby quarry to the memorial site. Words around the top of the memorial read “They Live, Heard, Felt, Died”.


Continue reading “The Yorkshire Dales Remember”

October 2017: Roman Milestone, Middleton

The Roman Milestone at Middleton is cylindrical in shape, approximately 1.7m high and 0.45m in diameter. The East side has an inscription: “MP LIII” – Milia Passuum 53. It is believed to refer to 53 miles from Carlisle. Below this there is another inscription: “SOLO ERVTVM RESTITVIT GVL MOORE AN MDCCCXXXVI” – added by the historian Dr Lingard to commemorate its discovery and re-erection by W. Moore. It is believed that Moore found the milestone when ploughing his land in 1836. It was then relocated to the top of a nearby hill and this inscription was added. There are some diagonal scratch marks on the northwest facing side which were likely made by ploughing.

Roman milestones were generally stone pillars with Latin inscriptions erected when a road was first constructed or when it was repaired. The inscriptions usually give the distance to the next, named, town, as well as the name of the reigning emperor and the particular year of his reign in which the milestone was placed, which allows them to be accurately dated. This milestone is unusual as it does not record the full name and titles of the emperor who built or repaired the road.

Continue reading “October 2017: Roman Milestone, Middleton”

Reading Rooms and Literary Institutes #librariesweek

Reading rooms and literary institutes were important recreational spaces in the Yorkshire Dales in the 19th Century. They could be found in almost every village and hamlet in the Dales, and were sometimes the only public building. Many of these buildings were built as local initiatives, and their establishment would have involved a considerable effort for many small communities. It seems likely that patronage had a strong role to play for the volume in the Yorkshire Dales. They were in part supported due to the foreseen advantages to the moral and intellectual welfare of the populous, particularly in having their tenants and employees socialising in an environment other than the public house. These buildings coincided with the temperance movement. Nearly all of the reading rooms were non-sectarian, however many had rules which revealed a temperance bias. Continue reading “Reading Rooms and Literary Institutes #librariesweek”

September 2017: Crook Gill packhorse bridge

There is a single span packhorse bridge that crosses Crook Gill. This bridge lies on an old packhorse route from Bishopdale into Wharfedale. A packhorse bridge is intended to carry horses loaded with side-bags or panniers (a packhorse) across a river or stream. Packhorse routes were the trade routes that formed major transport arteries of Great Britain until the coming of the turnpike roads and canals in the 18th Century. The bridge is situated roughly halfway between the hamlets of Cray and Hubberholme. The bridge crosses Crook Gill just before its confluence with Cray Gill, and 700m downstream joins the River Wharfe. Continue reading “September 2017: Crook Gill packhorse bridge”

Geophysical Surveys of Bainbridge

We Dig Community is coming to an end in Bainbridge, but one last piece of fieldwork has been completed, a geophysical survey by Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Archaeology Group (SWAAG). Geophysical surveys (often referred to as ‘geophys’) are usually undertaken at the beginning of a project as they give you an overview of the site and can give you an indication of where to place your archaeological trenches. However, test pits, by their nature, should be a random snapshot of the archaeology of an area, so in this case the geophysical survey was being used to ensure that no large features were missed. Continue reading “Geophysical Surveys of Bainbridge”

Final Finds Processing and Identification Workshop

We are holding our final Finds Processing and Identification Workshop as we only have a few finds left to process now. The workshop will be on the 28th September, from 10am till 5pm at Bainbridge Temperance Hall. (You do not have to stay for the whole session.) Everybody is welcome and no experience is required. However, spaces are limited so if you would like to attend please contact Hannah Kingsbury at Hannah.Kingsbury@yorkshiredales.org.uk or 01969 652343.



Finds Processing and Identification Workshop Take Two

Last weekends Finds Workshop was really successful and we got lots of finds processed and sorted! Our collection of identified finds is getting bigger and includes coins, clay pipes, Romano-British pottery, late medieval pottery, a bone domino and a WWII bullet.

We still have lots of finds that need washing, sorting and identifying so we are holding another Finds Processing and Identification Workshop. This workshop will be held on Thursday 14th September from 10am till 5pm at Bainbridge Temperance Hall. (You do not have to stay for the whole session.) Everybody is welcome and no experience is required. However, spaces are limited so if you would like to attend please contact Rebecca Cadbury-Simmons at Rebecca.Cadbury-Simmons@yorkshiredales.org.uk or 01969 652353.

August 2017: Bronze Age Cairn, Addleborough

There are the remains of a cairn prominently situated on the north crest of Addleborough, overlooking Wensleydale. A cairn is a mound of rough stones, often built as a memorial or landmark, although sometimes simply as an agricultural feature to clear land for farming . This cairn is believed to mark an early Bronze Age (circa 2000-1500 BC) burial site. Prehistoric funerary cairns are typically constructed on hilltops or in visually prominent skyline locations. There has been some natural erosion of the site over time, as well as man-made changes.

It is visible as a low stone mound, largely turf-covered and with a maximum diameter of 10.5m and 0.6m high. Several large boulders are exposed across the cairn, and have varying amounts of cup marks on them. One example has at least 30 cup marks of a few centimetres across. There are also distinct channels which appear as ring segments, and highlight particular cups. Abstract cup and ring marks are decorative features that are found quite frequently in upland areas, and are a form of prehistoric rock art. It appears that for geological reasons, rock art is a little more unusual in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, than in other upland areas.

An Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar was situated on the north side of this site. However, its location meant that the cairn was suffering significant footfall and livestock erosion during the 1980’s and 90’s.  The pillar was removed several years ago, and the condition of the mound improved following this. [The triangulation pillar can be seen at the right hand side of the header image.]

The cairn is designated as a scheduled monument.


Historic Environment Record: MYD4221

Parish: Bainbridge

OS Grid Reference: SD946881

Dale: Upper Wensleydale

Out of Oblivion: http://www.outofoblivion.org.uk/record.asp?id=160

Access: The cairn is on open access land.

Finds Processing and Identification Workshops

We Dig Community is running several Finds Processing and Identification Workshops now that the test pits in Bainbridge are all complete. Come along to find out about some of the post-excavation work required with the finds, as well as the opportunity to help uncover the history of Bainbridge.

The workshops will be held at the Temperance Hall in Bainbridge, on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd September, 9am till 12:30pm and 1pm till 4:30pm.

Everybody is welcome, however spaces available for each timeslot are limited so booking is essential. To book a place please contact Hannah Kingsbury at Hannah.Kingsbury@yorkshiredales.org.uk or 01969 652343

Excavations at Hagg Farm, Swaledale

Hagg Farm was excavated in July 2017 by Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Archaeology Group (SWAAG). The excavations were carried out by their members and a number of volunteers. The collective time spent planning and delivering this dig has been a staggering total of over 2,500 hours. This does not include the time yet to be spent on post-excavation work.

Copyright – Hagg Farm Dig 2017, SWAAG

SWAAG established the Fremington Project and subsequently The Swaledale Project: 7000 Years of a Landscape and its People. The aim is to study the archaeological landscape at Hagg Farm, and the adjacent Sorrel Sykes and Marrick Priory Farm. The landscape is thought to comprise of 9 settlements within a coaxial field system.

SWAAG have been exploring Hagg Farm since 2009 with survey work and some limited excavations. From these previous explorations it was known that the site was inhabited in the Romano-British period and likely abandoned at some point in the 4th Century.

The 2017 excavations were set up to uncover more about the site. It was hoped that the purpose and use of the site would become apparent with more extensive excavations. They hoped to find out more about the people who lived there and how they were living. As well as to see if the site was part of a larger complex of buildings, and if there were any indication of a settlement before the Romano-British times.

On day 7 of the dig SWAAG confirmed this Romano-British site as regionally important. By looking at the pottery that was being uncovered, it became increasingly clear that there were significant trading links between this settlement and Roman Catterick. You can have a look at their press release here: http://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/living-and-working/other-services/press-office/news/recent/high-status-roman-artefacts-found-in-swaledale

On the site there is a roundhouse that faces east, with its back to the prevailing winds and weather. A path connects the entrance and porch to the north entrance. A large area of flagged yard has been uncovered to the south of the roundhouse, which includes a door sill. This door sill has raised many questions as to whether it is in its original position or whether it was reused when the area was paved. A wealth of crinoidal limestone flags have also been found, and it is unclear whether it was chosen for practical reasons or its aesthetic appeal.

Door sill
Copyright – Hagg Farm Dig 2017, SWAAG

Many finds have been uncovered including many sherds of pottery. This has comprised of local pottery (some of which are believed to have originated in Catterick), Romano-British pottery, and probable Samian ware. There have also been many fragments of querns. [Quern-stones are stone tools for hand-grinding a variety of materials. They are used in pairs, the lower, stationary stone is called a quern, and the upper, mobile stone is called a handstone.] One of the fragments is a collared hopper quern of the type used by the Roman army. It is possible that the quern stones were fragments reused as building material or were perhaps ritually broken when the site was abandoned. A beautiful piece of worked stone was found, which is believed to be a Roman cosmetic palette; a lady or her maid would have used this to mix and apply facial cosmetics. The edge of the piece was chamfered around the edge, perfectly smooth on one side and small enough to sit comfortably in the hand. Fragments of flint and arrow heads have also been excavated.

Quern fragments
Copyright – Hagg Farm Dig 2017, SWAAG

Cosmetic palette fragment
Copyright – Hagg Farm Dig 2017, SWAAG

SWAAG worked with two local schools on this year’s dig: Arkengarthdale Primary School and Reeth and Gunnerside Federation of Primary Schools. They provided workshops for both schools on “Finds, Flints, and Fossils”. Arkengarthdale Primary School also visited the site. They were given a tour, which included the finds tent where they were able to handle and discuss the finds. They were also treated to a workshop on Roman pottery by Graham Taylor, a heritage potter and experimental archaeologist. The children also produced sketches of the site, showing how it looked today as well as how it may have looked in the past.

Children with Graham Taylor
Copyright – Hagg Farm Dig 2017, SWAAG

Now that the excavations have come to an end for this year, the focus is on the post-excavation work. This includes a lot of processing and recording, as well as sending off finds and samples for further analysis.


A blog of the 2017 excavations was done by SWAAG and can be viewed here: https://www.swaag.org/NEWS/swaag_news_archive1.php

Excavations at St Helen’s Chapel, Malham

Dr David Johnson led an archaeological dig at Malham during the first two weeks of July. This was carried out by a number of volunteers, which included members of the Ingleborough Archaeology Group, as well as others from around the UK and from as far afield as Germany, America and Australia.

Copyright – Malham Chapel Dig 2017

The site in Malham contains St Helen’s Chapel, and has been excavated over the last three years. The site is of great historical and archaeological interest. This Chapel was an ancient religious foundation, first mentioned in monastic charters in the 12th Century. Kirkby Malhamdale was an extensive Pennine parish, with Malham being one of seven townships within this parish. Chapels of Ease, like St Helen’s, were essential for outlying districts and hamlets, as access to the parish church could often be difficult as it required such a long distance to travel. Surviving documentary evidence suggests that there were such chapels in Hanlith, Airton and Malham, however, to date, only the location of Malham chapel has been discovered.

The first documentary evidence for Malham is contained in the Domesday Book. In the 12th Century major landholdings were given to Fountains Abbey and Bolton Priory, both monastic houses. After the upheaval of the dissolution of the monasteries, during the reign of Henry VIII, all monastic land in Malham was surrendered to the Crown, then sold and resold. By the late sixteenth century the Lamberts of Calton were the major landowners. Traditional religion came further under attack during the reign of Edward VI. In 1549, St Helen’s Chapel (despite being a chapel of ease, rather than a chantry chapel) was demolished and its contents and lead roof removed at the instigation of John Lambert of Calton and William Clapham of Beamsley, Chantry Commissioners for the West Riding, but both also landowners in Malhamdale.

In much of Craven, including Malhamdale, support for the religious reformations of Henry VIII and Edward VI was reluctant and slow. In fact, there had been widespread support in the region for the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1538. [The Pilgrimage of Grace was a popular rising in Yorkshire chiefly against Henry VIII’s break with the Roman Catholic Church, as well as other religious and political grievances.] During the time of the Catholic Counter-Reformation of Mary and Phillip, the inhabitants of Malham petitioned for St Helen’s Chapel to be rebuilt. However Mary died in 1558 and the Protestant Church of England was consolidated under Elizabeth I. This resulted in the chapel becoming a ruin and its location fading from people’s memories.

Potential sites of the chapel were investigated using a combination of documentary research and aerial photography. Once identified, surveys were carried out, which appeared to reveal a two-cell building which resembled known profiles of early churches. A dig was organised for summer 2015 to determine if the structure was the ancient chapel dedicated to St Helen.

Copyright – Malham Chapel Dig 2017

The previous excavations in 2015 and 2016 were undertaken by Mark Roberts and undergraduates from University College London. These excavations confirmed the location of St Helen’s Chapel. They also corroborated documentary evidence as to how the chapel was destroyed by the Edwardian chantry commissioners in 1549: tumble was found caused by the lead roofs and timbers having been removed; no dressed stone was recovered suggesting that it had all been taken from the site for recycling; two pits showing evidence of burning was discovered in the nave and excavated. [These pits had been used to melt the lead from the roof and windows to make it easier to transport from the site.]

The dig taking place this July was organised to address some remaining questions about the site, and they have found some interesting discoveries. This has included buttresses at the south-western and north-western corners. From the construction they have been dated to the 1300s, which means it is not contemporary with the building of the chapel. The fact that they were found at both corners suggests that the nave had possibly been heightened. They found a section of dressed stone, which means that not all of them had been taken to be used elsewhere. A burnt out area has also been found which has raised many questions about its use as it was not a lead melting pit.

Copyright – Malham Chapel Dig 2017

Children from Kirkby Malham Primary School visited the site on the morning of the last Thursday. They were able to take part in many activities organised by the YDNPA to stimulate their interest in archaeology. They were instructed in excavation practice and got to have a go at excavating for themselves. They also took part in activities that taught them about finds identification. Two members of the Harrogate 3D Archaeological Society also came, dressed in 16th and 17th Century costumes, and showed the children Tudor food and artefacts.

Copyright – Malham Chapel Dig 2017

In the afternoon, the site was opened up to the public. Small groups of visitors were given guided tours around the site, which enabled them to observe the dig in action, as well as seeing a small exhibition of finds on display.


You can find out more about the dig at this website:


A blog has been done of each day of the dig, which can be viewed here:


July 2017: Linton Camp School

Historic Environment Record: MYD49907

Parish: Linton

OS Grid Reference: SE00256275

Dale: Lower Wharfedale

Access: Not on open access land, it is private property. The site is visible from a number of public rights of way that are close by. It is also visible from locations on the B6160 and the B6265, however, please note that the roads are narrow so it is not possible to stop.


A residential camp near the village of Linton survives virtually intact. The buildings were constructed out of timber frames with horizontal timber cladding, beneath overhanging cedar shingle roofs. A number of them have brick chimney stacks. The frames and floor joists rest on brick and concrete piers. However, the remaining buildings are in varying condition, and the site is rapidly deteriorating. A fair amount of the cladding has been damaged or removed, most glass is missing from the windows, and the cedar shingle roofs are in poor condition with a lot of the shingles missing or rotting.

The site includes many buildings and features. There are a number of single-storey classrooms/dormitories that remain, as well as a larger building that would have been a canteen, and is now greatly deteriorated. There was an outdoor swimming pool, which has since been filled with rubble. An in-filled air raid shelter can be seen as an earthwork and the entrance by the survival of the top of the stairs that would have led down into the shelter. (It is possible that remains of the air raid shelter would remain in situ.)  Originally, there would also have been shower blocks, a greenhouse, a headmaster’s house, a central boiler house, and a water tower. A former playing field occupies the eastern part of the site.

Linton Camp is one of a series of Camp Schools built by the National Camps Corporation in 1939 to house evacuees. In this case to house evacuees from Bradford and Leeds, originally whose fathers were away in the forces and whose mothers were often doing shift work in the mills or munitions factories.

The National Camps Corporation constructed around 31 camps in rural locations around England to house evacuees from nearby cities. The architect T. S. Tait was responsible for the design of the buildings. The schools were constructed of timber chalet buildings of a standard design, chosen for its economy and camouflage capabilities. Some of these camps have been demolished, some have been repurposed into things such as caravan sites and outdoor learning centres, and some have fallen into disrepair (like Linton).

Following the war the camp was used to provide residential education in a healthy environment for inner city children by the National Camps Corporation. The camp would therefore have played a significant role in introducing inner city children to the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales. In 1946 the National Camps Corporation was wound down. However, the camp was purchased in 1957 by Bradford Metropolitan Council, and continued as a residential school until its closure in May 1986. It was then periodically used as a summer camp for scout groups. It has been unused for many years now.


The land to the south of the site contains archaeological remains of a medieval settlement. The settlement likely contained several buildings, possibly including one long house, as well as around 20 small folds and paddocks, and a medieval quarry. The settlement and the remains of medieval field systems are visible as earthworks. This is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. [Historic Environment Record: MYD57541 and MYD36675]

[The earthworks of the Scheduled Ancient Monument can be seen in the right of this aerial image]

We have reached Test Pit 24!

We have now reached Test Pit 24! We have also nearly finished the We Dig Community project in Bainbridge, as we will finish at the end of July.

The test pits have been placed in a variety of locations around Bainbridge, including the Village Green, resident’s gardens, and local fields. Test pit 24 was dug at Sycamore Hall, and residents were able to come out and see us in action and ask us questions.

Photo credit: John Buglass

These test pits have varied in their abundance of finds. However, we have found a range of artefacts. This has included late medieval pottery, parts of a possible rotary quern, and a whole host of post-medieval finds like fragments of pottery, clay pipes, building material. One of the most interesting finds to date has been a small bone domino.

Many children have descended on Bainbridge during this project to find out about archaeology and have a go at digging. The Young Archaeologists Club have come back and done another day digging. Test pits have been dug at Bainbridge Primary School by the Key Stage 2 pupils of the Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton Federation of Schools. Unfortunately it was too wet on the days Hawes primary school were going to come and dig, and we were very sad to have to cancel their outing.

Don’t forget that this Sunday we are having an Open Day. This is in celebration of the We Dig project so far as well as the Festival of Archaeology.

Excavations at Thorns, Ribblesdale

A three week archaeological dig has just been completed at Thorns, Ribblesdale. The excavation was under the directorship of Dr David Johnson, undertaken on behalf of the Ingleborough Dales Landscape Partnership under the Stories in Stone programme. (http://www.ydmt.org/programme-details-stories-in-stone-16115) The dig has been largely undertaken by volunteers from the Ingleborough Archaeology Group.

Thorns itself covers a large area, with a landscape of limestone and glacial deposits. It was first recorded as a settlement in 1190 and was connected to Furness Abbey. At the time of the Dissolution there were 6 inhabited tenements (farm units). Over the next 300 years the number of inhabitants decreased, and census records show that by the end of the 19th Century only 1 dwelling remained, but was uninhabited.

Since May last year, survey work has been undertaken in the area. This has included a geophysical survey to map the area, and a survey of the dry stone walls, among others. The walls were surveyed as part of Stories in Stone to help determine the chronology of the enclosure of the land. Some walls were found to date to the 16th Century. The remains of a network of ditches and banks, the original medieval boundaries, were found to cover the area, along with the remains of 7 trackways that converged at Thorns.

The dig focused on 3 fields, which contain a number of ruined buildings and earthworks.

The first building to be excavated was a ruined shippon (cattle shed). It remains today as mainly earthworks and rubble but there is still a small section of wall. Two trenches were excavated and turf was peeled back to expose the extent of the building, and if there was any interior divisions. A cobbled floor 85cm below current ground level was uncovered, suggesting it was for animals rather than domestic use. They also uncovered the remains of a cross wall, which might suggest a domestic purpose to the building at the east end, however this can not be definitively determined.

A house has been excavated, that is likely to be the oldest house in the settlement due to it having the thickest walls of the site (700mm). (Thickness of the walls can often indicate age.) It was probably demolished before the first edition 6” map was produced, as it does not appear on the map. Features that have been uncovered suggest that there were three bays, the first with the door and porch was the main living area, remains of a flagstone floor were found, along with a fireplace with part of the front grate still in situ and a small oven. The next bay was probably the parlour and a smaller fireplace was found there. The third bay was cobbled and was 30cm lower than the rest of the house, it has been interpreted as an outhouse. There is also an additional outshot to the rear that was the dairy. Artefacts have also been found that include part of an iron cooking cauldron, fragments of pottery and glass, and a door hinge (likely dating to the 17th Century).

The last building to be excavated was a long rectangular building, which had also been demolished at some point, however it was present on the first edition map. Artefacts found include part of a mullioned window (possibly dating to the late 18th Century), fragments of pottery and very fine glass, along with various bits of metal. The west end of the building possibly had an agricultural use.

On the site there is also the ruin of the last house to be inhabited, with a ruined privy nearby. The remains of this house and the privy are going to be consolidated at a later date as part of this project.



Public rights of way pass through the site, from which earthworks and remains of buildings can be seen. However, the site is private property and a working farm so please stick to the footpaths.


We Dig Community celebrates Festival of Archaeology!

We Dig Community is celebrating the Festival of Archaeology 2017. The Festival of Archaeology is a fortnight of nationwide events celebrating local archaeology that is co-ordinated by the Council for British Archaeology. Find out more about the festival at http://www.archaeologyfestival.org.uk/about.

On the 23rd July, 10am till 4pm there are a variety of free activities taking place in Bainbridge. A guided walk of the archaeology of Bainbridge will leave at 10am, 12pm and 2pm, from the stocks on Bainbridge Green. This will include a rare opportunity to see the site of the Roman fort. Come along and see a test pit in action on Bainbridge green, and have a go at digging whilst you’re here. Find out how the We Dig project has progressed, including seeing finds from the excavations, and why not stop by and get a picture in our replica Roman helmet.

If you can’t wait till then, we are looking for volunteers. If you would like to get involved with ‘We Dig Community!’ and help out with this exciting archaeological project then get in touch! Contact Rebecca, on rebecca.cadbury-simmons@yorkshiredales.org.uk or 01969 652353.

June 2017: Gayle Mill


Historic Environment Record: MYD31225

Parish: Hawes

OS Grid Reference: SD871893

Dale: Upper Wensleydale

Out of Oblivion: http://www.outofoblivion.org.uk/record.asp?id=243

Access: This site is publicly accessible. The Mill can be viewed from the roadside, but there is also an unsurfaced drive down to the Mill. Access inside the Mill is only available by guided tour. For more information see: http://www.gaylemill.org.uk/visit-us

Gayle Mill was built as a water-powered cotton mill, based upon the latest Arkwright design, around 1784 by Oswald and Thomas Routh. It was one of the earliest cotton spinning mills in Wensleydale. The mid-to-late eighteenth century was a time of great change and uncertainty, with the industrial revolution well underway and the cotton trade thriving.

Since the start, Gayle Mill has reflected the changing industries in the Dales and the wider fortunes of UK manufacturing. It survived as a cotton mill until the late-eighteenth century when for a short period it was used for spinning flax. After that, it spun wool for the local hand-knitting industry for much of the nineteenth century. Gayle Mill reinvented itself again in 1879, when it adopted the latest technology and became a mechanised sawmill powered by a Williamson turbine. This power drove a range of woodworking machinery.

In the early 20th century a turbine powered generator was installed and was used to supply electricity, first to the mill, and then to Gayle, and continued to provide hydroelectricity until 1948. During the Second World War the second floor of the mill building was used for accommodating military personnel. Physical evidence of this includes an external emergency escape route, the fitting of black out screens and some graffiti. However the Mill remained operational during this time as a sawmill and for electricity generation. The Mill continued as a working sawmill until 1988, but from that point the Mill gradually fell into disrepair.

Gayle Mill is now owned by the North of England Civic Trust and operated by the Gayle Mill Trust. In 2004 they began restorations to restore the Mill to its former glory (with much enthusiastic local support), and work was completed in the spring of 2008, opening its doors to the public. In 2006 the two turbines were restored to working order. The Mill’s plight had received national attention in 2004, as it was one of the finalists in BBC2’s “Restoration” programme (coming third), and was more recently featured on Channel 4’s “How Britain Worked” in 2012.

Gayle Mill falls within the Gayle Conservation Area. This Conservation Area is distinctive for its landscape setting and vernacular architecture.

The Mill is a Grade II* Listed Building and is designated as a Scheduled Monument.

EVENT NOTIFICATION: Gayle Mill has a Beer and Cider Festival on the 10th June from 12 noon until 11pm (free admission). Further information available at http://www.gaylemill.org.uk/latest-news/52-gayle-mill-summer-fair-2017

Swaledale Archaeology Group Seek Volunteers to Excavate Romano-British Site

The Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Archaeology Group (SWAAG) wish to invite volunteers to help explore a site at Hagg Farm, Fremington, and to further understanding of a Romano-British site that may have links to the Roman centre at Catterick.

SWAAG has explored different areas on the site and revealed evidence of possible roundhouses, enclosures and walls.  The finds suggest that the site was Romano-British and abandoned towards the end of the 4th century AD.  However, there is no evidence as to when the site was established, how it was developed or what it was for.

SWAAG are confident that this is a major site and of great significance for Swaledale.  They are hoping to link the site to the era of trade and prosperity that arose following Roman development at Catterick.  This is very much a community project and SWAAG would like as much support as possible from local volunteers with an interest in archaeology.  All training will be provided, all you need is enthusiasm.

The dig will be held from Wednesday 5th July to Wednesday 19th July.  Anyone interested in taking part should contact SWAAG at andrea@SWAAG.org or call Philip on 01748 884555.

There are no charges for participation and all equipment and training will be provided.

There will be an opportunity to learn more about the site, the opportunities for participation in the dig and to talk to members of SWAAG, on Saturday 24th June between 2pm and 4pm in the Reeth Memorial Hall.

If you do not wish to dig but would like to visit the site please join the guided walk. It will leave from the Reeth bus shelter at 10.00 am on Sat 15th July and is a round trip of some 4 miles.  Please contact andrea@SWAAG.org for details.

For more information on any aspects of the SWAAG and the dig please visit our website at www.SWAAG.org

SWAAG have been awarded a grant from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund to undertake the dig. The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund is open to individuals, business, community groups or voluntary sector bodies. It provides an accessible source of money for a range of projects that result in positive benefits for the National Park’s environment, economy and communities, while enhancing and conserving local culture, wildlife and landscape. For more details, please go to http://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/living-and-working/sdf

Test Pits 4, 5 and 6!


The next three test pits have been excavated in Bainbridge, with lots of post-medieval finds found.


Test pit 4 was located in a garden in Bainbridge, and was dug by local volunteers. They managed to dig down to 80cm, which was not surprising in a raised bed. This is the deepest depth that we have managed to dig down to in Bainbridge so far. But this depth combined with the rain caused certain challenges as the sides kept collapsing.

Some exciting Second World War artefacts were found: a button from a Civil Defence uniform and a bullet. Civil Defence incorporated a variety of tasks in the aim to protect the public from military attacks, general emergencies, and natural or man-made disasters.

On the 20th of May the Young Rangers came to Bainbridge to excavate on the green. The session was so popular two test pits were started. The Young Rangers really enjoyed excavating, especially when they could use the hand mattocks, and were really interested in what they were finding.

Local volunteers took over in the afternoon, and due to time constraints test pit 5 had to be closed after 20cm, but test pit 6 continued down to 40cm (when natural was struck). The young rangers and local volunteers found lots more post-medieval finds, which are yet to be washed.

Test pit 5 will not be re-opened at a later date as test pit 6 showed that the natural layer was close to the surface.


We are always looking for volunteers. If you would like to get involved with ‘We Dig Community!’ and help out with this exciting archaeological project then get in touch! Contact Rebecca, on rebecca.cadbury-simmons@yorkshiredales.org.uk or 01969 652353.

May 2017(c): Ribblehead “Viking” Farmstead, settlement on Gauber High Pasture Rock

Historic Environment Record: MYD3669

Parish: Ingleton

OS Grid Reference: SD765784

Dale: Ribblesdale

Out of Oblivion: http://www.outofoblivion.org.uk/record.asp?id=417

Access: This site is publicly accessible, see Out of Oblivion for more details.


The settlement on Gauber High Pasture Rock (1100ft above sea level) is believed to be a Viking farmstead, possibly dating to the ninth century.


The farmstead is comprised of three buildings clustered around a paved courtyard, situated on a bare limestone pavement. The farmstead was initially recognised by their outlines in the turf, and today only the building foundations survive. The site was excavated in 1975-6, and included finds of coins, a long spearhead, and knives. The coins found were minted at York around the middle of the ninth century, suggesting that the Ribblehead farm was occupied in the second half of the ninth century, and this would make it one of the earliest groups of Scandinavian settlers in Yorkshire. The site is thought to be Viking in date due to the four ninth century coins and a Scandinavian knife that were found during the excavations. However,  debate continues amongst archaeologists as to the actual date of the site due to earlier excavations possibly having disturbed the context of the finds.


The largest structure has internal measurements of 64ft × 14ft, and walls averaging 5ft in thickness, and is believed to be the main domestic building. Excavations have suggested that the buildings would have had ridged timber roofs and were likely turf or heather thatched. One of the smaller adjacent buildings had a central hearth and deposits of iron scale around it, suggesting that it was a smithy.


In a charter of 1203 the site is referred to as a Hermitage (where a small community lived a religious life in seclusion).


The condition of this site is monitored as part of the Monuments at Risk Survey.


Photo credit: R Evans on behalf of YDNPA.

May 2017(b): Ellerton Priory


Historic Environment Record: MYD34854

Parish: Ellerton Abbey

OS Grid Reference: SE079973

Dale: Swaledale

Out of Oblivion: http://www.outofoblivion.org.uk/record.asp?id=218

Access: Please note that there is no public access to Ellerton Priory. It is visible from the roadside, but the road can be dangerous so please take care.


Ellerton Priory was a small house of Cistercian nuns, founded in the reign of Henry II (1154-89) by Warner, steward of the Earls of Richmond. It was always a small, poorly endowed house, and it was thought that there were only 13 nuns there at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Today the nunnery mainly survives as earthworks, however there are upstanding remains of the priory church.


The priory church is believed to date from the fifteenth century, perhaps earlier. The church survives as a ruin: a narrow, aisle-less nave and choir, with west tower. The north and east walls of the nave and choir are partially standing, of varied height between 1 and 3 metres. The tower of the Priory church appears to have been rebuilt as a romantic ruin sometime during the 19th century. Further consolidation work to the church was undertaken by the YDNPA in 1996.


The church is surrounded by indistinct earthworks but a geophysical survey has traced the details of the cloister and other buildings. A grand country house or shooting lodge was built nearby in 1830 and named ‘Ellerton Abbey’.


It is designated as a Scheduled Monument.

May 2017(a): Field Barn on Occupation Road, Muker


Historic Environment Record: MYD36689

Parish: Muker

OS Grid Reference: SD912977

Dale: Swaledale

Out of Oblivion: http://www.outofoblivion.org.uk/record.asp?id=224

Access: Please note that this field barn can be viewed from a bridleway but that there is no public access to the interior of the barn, or the adjoining field.


This stone field barn is unusual as it has a date stone over one of its doors. The date stone is marked W Hall, the last number is missing, but what remains dates the barn’s construction to between 1800 and 1809. This places it near the beginning of the widespread process of replacing timber barns with stone ones in the Dales. In construction, the barn is typical of the small stone field barns to be found in this part of Swaledale. It is a two door field barn with relatively well-coursed sandstone and limestone block walling with regular lines of throughs, as well as slit vents on the south elevation. Over the winter, cattle were housed in the shippon below while their food, hay from the surrounding fields, was stored in the mew alongside and also in the loft above. Muck from the cows was spread on the fields as fertilizer in the spring.


The barn survives in fair condition, though in a slightly altered form. It has been restored with the aid of a grant from the National Park Authority.


This field barn falls within the Barns and Walls Conservation Area of Upper Swaledale and Arkengarthdale. A dominant feature of the two valleys is the intricate pattern of drystone walls and dense network of traditional stone-built field barns. In Swaledale there are on average 14 field barns per square kilometre. As farming has changed and developed the field barns have become more redundant and derelict making our Every Barn Tells a Story (EBTAS) project ever more necessary. Read more about EBTAS at http://everybarn.yorkshiredales.org.uk/.

The Young Archaeologists Club Needs You!

The first three test pits have been excavated in Bainbridge and with them a wave of finds has emerged. The most exciting of these finds is a piece of pottery that is probably Roman in date!

Our other finds include lots of (more modern) pottery fragments, animal bone and plenty of clay pipe stems, which are all to be expected from excavating on a village green and within people’s gardens. Unusually though, the majority of the finds that our test pits have produced are post-medieval in date. This is interesting because Bainbridge is considered to have medieval origins, and we therefore thought that we would get earlier finds . It is, of course, too early to draw any conclusions from this, but it brings up lots of questions that have yet to be answered!

This weekend our Young Archaeologists Club had their first session excavating on the green and had a great time! They all had a go at digging in the test pit, sieving the spoil for finds and washing the finds that emerged. They particularly enjoyed learning to use tools that they had not used before and guessing what the finds could be!

Unfortunately, sometimes our young archaeologists have to go to school and therefore can’t dig all the test pits themselves. If you would like to get involved with ‘We Dig Community!’ and help out with this exciting archaeological project then get in touch! Contact Rebecca, our Community Heritage Officer, on rebecca.cadbury-simmons@yorkshiredales.org.uk or 01969 652353.