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04 August, 2019

Langcliffe Scar - a survey over a complex multi-period moorland site

During the wet and windy autumn and winter of 2006-2007, a handful of hardy UWHG members joined an archaeological surveying course run by Dr Roger Martlew of the Topographical surveyYorkshire Dales Landscape Research Trust on behalf of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

Despite battling against the extremes of Yorkshire weather we ventured out on a succession of Wednesdays to conduct the topographical survey of a large area of rough pasture land in Ribblesdale. (In the interests of protecting the site, we cannot disclose the precise location)

As well as the thick mists, the gusts of wind, and the heavy rain and drizzle, we also had to contend with the thick vegetation which obscures many of the features on the ground, which included not only a complex medley of earthworks, but also the clints and grykes of the limestone underneath.

The topographical survey, using tapes for offset and triangulated measurements, as well as the alidade, was supplemented by an extensive GPS survey (with fixed base stations and roving receivers) to identify the major features across the landscape.

The result was a field map containing numerous features – from linear banks, to enclosures, mounds, circular banked enclosures, cairns, hollows, quarry scoops, shafts and walls. The presence of these implies a long history, and most probably of pre-history, of human activity, probably including settlement, burials, livestock farming, and mineral extraction.

The survey raised more questions than it answered, but it proved an extremely valuable exercise in field training for the UWHG members who took part, and has proved that further investigation, such as excavation, of this area could reveal some very interesting archaeology – if only the opportunity could arise!

Please note: the survey report has been presented to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, and it is intended that the findings will be entered into the Historic Environment Record’s database. The survey report itself is not yet available to the public.

Jane Lunnon

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