Grassington’s Ancient Heritage project – 2013
Following on from the surveying of High Close, a large enclosed field just to the north of the village of Grassington, much more work has steadily been taking place under the Heritage Lottery funded project being managed by Dr Roger Martlew on behalf of Yorkshire Dales Landscape Research Trust (YDLRT). This has involved local schools, volunteers from members of the public & the local community, as well as some of UWHG’s members.
For more information on the project as a whole, see Dales Landscape Heritage pages at:
In October 2012 a small-scale preliminary excavation was carried out in a field near High Close. The focus of the dig was a large linear earthwork which traverses the field.
Alison planning in the trench © photo by Jane Lunnon
The initial results are intriguing but inconclusive. There were very few finds, mostly tiny bits of pottery. But the stonework which was revealed was significant. We await Roger’s formal interpretations with great anticipation!
During the glorious summer of 2013 a similar but smaller earthwork was excavated in the neighbouring field. Again this was not so much about finding artefacts as revealing a structure which was certainly not natural. Again we have to wait for further investigative work to be carried out before any conclusions can be reached.
Digging in glorious weather © photo by Jane Lunnon
The weather temporarily went cooler and considerably damper in late June but it didn’t stop us opening up a couple more small trenches nearby. Again our finds were small and relatively insignificant – mostly little pieces of Victorian ceramics. The structural stonework was less well-defined here than in the previous two excavations in Bull Pasture.
The small trench dug in late June – not quite so exciting?
© photo by Jane Lunnon
Please note – all the above work was carried out with the landowner’s permission. This is private land and not accessible to the general public.
During the autumn season, when things were (relatively) quiet, Roger supervised a series of workshops examining the collection of lithics held by the Craven Museum in Skipton.
Plenty of patience and good eyesight required © photo by Jane Lunnon
Each Thursday a small but dedicated group settled down in the back room of the Bluebell Inn in Kettlewell, to closely examine the collection. We were privileged to have the expert guidance of Laurel Phillipson, a well-respected lithics specialist known for her studies of prehistoric flintwork in Africa. We have thoroughly enjoyed working with her and learnt a huge amount under her very patient tuition. The aim is to develop a database detailing the characteristics of each flint, in an attempt to find patterns in their manufacture, use and distribution.
We’ve learnt to recognise bulbs of percussion, worked & utilised edges, signs of re-working, and the distinction between cores, flakes and fragments; Each piece of flint has been a colour code, and a description of its condition (e.g. hydrated, worn, broken, weathered or fresh). And no matter how small, each piece has been measured to within a millimetre of its life.
We made excellent progress but there’s still more to analyse during the next autumn season.
A special thank you goes to the staff of the Bluebell Inn who allowed us to take over the back room – and provided us with suitable refreshments!