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Thursday 5th October 2017
 
Excavations at Holme Cultram Abbey

Jennifer Stearn

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Site last updated
08 September, 2017


January 2012
(The photographs included in this account show a variety of field barn water sources that Team Three have found in their wanderings.)

Diary update: January saw Recording Teams Three and Five renew their activities after the Christmas break. Team Five had the challenging task of surveying three working barns in the middle of Kettlewell, not an easy task when they are full of animals and surrounded by farm machinery - but they did draw the line at the area which housed the bull!

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The crumbling remains of a well constructed arched recess above a stone trough, built into a fold yard wall, a natural spring had been piped to the trough. © P. Carroll

Team Three donned their walking boots and climbed up onto the eastern fellside to investigate three structures high above Starbotton which were confirmed as sheep folds. The team then photographed five sites along the valley bottom, all locations where barns had once stood but no longer exist - although a pair of ventilators and four or five quoins were found frozen into a field wall at one of the sites. Team Three then rounded off the month by surveying two ruined field barns and an intact village barn in Kettlewell.

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The cattle from this barn were turned out to water at a fording point on the
adjacent stream.   © P. Carroll

Identification of sites: Apart from within the two villages, our list of sites to visit was drawn up by highlighting every regular quadrilateral shape that looked as if it could be a building onto the UWHG working maps. We employed the present day 2˝” to the mile, the 1909 25” to the mile, the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey 6” map drawn up in 1851, the two Tithe award maps of 1846 and by image hunting on Google Earth as our source.

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This fold yard had a well with a protecting stone structure – the only identified ‘well house’ to date. © P. Carrol
 

A number of these sites turned out to be sheep folds, springs, modern, non traditional buildings or small reservoirs for isolated farms but every site has been logged and photographed. Whilst the valley floors have the greatest concentration of barns there are a number of high level meadows with barns, a long way from the modern route ways.

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This ‘dewpond’ once provided water to the adjacent small barn – the dewpond is still in working condition – which is more than can be said for the barn!   © P. Carroll
 

Water supplies: One of the many questions on our recording form is about sources of water, as cows required on average of 15 gallons of water a day, as 85% of milk is composed of water. Therefore a vital component of a traditional field barn was a convenient water supply. Up to the middle of the 20th century, when field barns were used for housing cows over winter, the farmer would need to visit each barn twice a day and one of his essential tasks was to turn the cows out to water.

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Rain water can be captured from a stone slate roof – a feature seen on many of the barns visited – this particular barn also had a spring, further down the field.  © P.Carroll

However, for some of the locations we have visited, no obvious water source can be identified and despite the presence of gutter remains and fall-pipes, an alternative source, apart from rainwater, must have been employed.

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The water for this barn is caught in a small reservoir below a spring head, upslope from the barn, then piped under pressure to the metal trough, serving both the fold yard and the field alongside.   © P. Carroll
 

Pat and Phil Carroll

Read the December 2011 report

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