Dr David Taylor gave an interesting talk to a good group of members, he started by saying that during the time leading up to WW11 pottery did not play a major part in archaeology nor was it well researched.  Over the years this view of the importance of pottery has changed and there has been much research in the area. Apparently pottery is classified into pottery series for example Dragonsdorf named after the chap who originally researched and classified it.

Members listening to the talk on PAS. Jan 2020. Attribution:GW

The three properties of pot are that it is indestructable (well relatively!) and very importantly it is dateable and it is also a reflection of the culture of a people and their times. The nearest site for the basis of pot making is clay, locally our sources came from  Cliviger, an underlying factor is that clay has to be easily obtainable.  The properties of clay are adjusted by adding fillers, sand or silica or other material for example shells.  Human and animal bone has also been included in the mix at times.   Clay was moulded by hand or thrown on a wheel then dried and fired.  A very basic way was to put the pot in an open fire methods then progressed to firing the pot in kilns.

Biscuit ware is apparently the simplest form of pot. Slipware is a liquid clay which is added to waterproof the pot, reducing its porosity, this can be done inside and outside the pot.   The earliest pots were hand coiled or moulded and produced by the Beaker people – Belgic tribes,   mainly consisting of food vessels and collared urns, produced in the Mid to Late Bronze Age (BA) which eventually reached our eastern British shores.  Vases with a hare or deer were common in Iron Age times and reflect the culture of the time.

The Romans relied heavily on pot for food vessels, both cooking and storage,  amphora mainly for wine, flagons and other household items such as lamps.  This was divided into coarse or fine ware, the Romans used a lot of slip ware and also Samian ware or Terra Sigillata mostly created in south, east and central Gaul and Spain although at one point Colchester produced some inferior Samian ware. Apparently Samian ware was produced by the Romans before the occupation of Brittanica and up to 250 AD when the Brits started making their own.  Finding Samian ware is very useful to the archaeologist as it can be very tightly dated,  due to the date stamp. Samian ware was produced in molds in standardised forms. A military works depot or tile works has been found at Holt near Chester, of course tiles were used for flooring as well as roofing. Floor tiles could be as much as 1 or 2ft. square and 3inches thick.

Opus Signinum: Attribution: Peter Hess

It was very interesting to find out  the nature of Opus signinum, a type of building material used in ancient Rome usually for flooring. It is made of broken tiles, river gravel or very small pieces of stone mixed with lime or clay mortar, and then beaten down with a rammer. If you have been in any British public building you will be very familiar with Opus signinum.  A technique the Romans inherited from the Phoenicians. 

David also discussed Grey ware, Black Burnished ware, Fine ware, Rusticated ware.  Tokesey ware produced in Anglo Saxon times was found around the East coast sadly the North West appears to have been aceramic in those times.  Moving on to Mediaeval times and the 12th and 13th centuries where the monks brought with them from France their knowledge of building and making pottery which included floor tiles.  It is thought that North Yorks. glazeware was produced at Riveaulx Abbey.

Find Of The Day – rim sherd of a late Medieval/early Post Medieval vessel. Attribution: Alex Whitlock

At the end of the presentation David outlined the pottery that was found at Park Hill in the ground floor of the Museum where a dig took place around thirty years ago. Most of the shards appeared to be from pots brought over from east Yorkshire, Humber ware.  However there was a pot with a pie crust rim internally glazed and with a bung….  these finds should be able to be viewed in the Museum.

It’s quite exciting to wonder who made a pot, where it was made and ascertain its usage and of course one has to wonder how it came to be in the place it was found for example a tiny piece of Samian Ware 1,000 feet up a hill in the Yorkshire Dales.  There is nothing better when one has scrabbled about in the soil in the cold and damp and worse for hours to turn up a sliver of pottery that can be dated and help to put a particular site on a map.

Did you know?

That amphorae were transported by putting the bottom layer in clay and then fitting the other layers inbetween the spaces?

That Terra Sigillata means earth with dancing figures?

That Potsilana was Rome’s secret weapon in construction, it’s a type of waterproof concrete that has endured for millenia and enabled the most remarkable feats of engineering?  

That carrying points on pottery were deliberately roughened to ensure that they did not slip out of greasy hands?

Banner Image:   Three ceramic roof tiles which are curved and are handmade. They are probably Roman imbrices. The fabric is orange throughout. It is soft and rough and the texture is hackly. The inclusions are frequent and are poorly sorted. They are mainly sand and quartz. The breaks are abraded. Attribution: Portable Antiquities Scheme, British Museum

 

We were off to a good start for our first walk of the year.   New people were introduced to the Hidden Valley project and the rain held off as the walk leader Alex Whitlock took us to previous excavation sites and on the way we tried to find the Chartist Well, well not entirely successfully. We saw the roadway and quarries date and exact history unknown and investigated marker stones.

First walk of the year 2020. Attribution: Gaye McCrum
Collating Various Group Finds. Nov. 2016. Attribution: Alex Whitlock
Apparently there is quite a lot of Prehistory in the area, not to mention the Kiln site – another of our excavation sites.  There are two carbon dates from this site, meaning there is hard evidence  that the kiln was worked in the 11th Century, possibly before the Norman Conquest and another date of around 1545.     We also  viewed the remains of Great and Little Craggs farms where we have held previous excavations where Alex divulged relevant information. The image of the Group Finds is likely to contain some of the finds from Little Craggs.
All in all a very interesting walk.
Next session:  Saturday February 8th in the Green Room a lecture on the Importance of Pottery in Archaeology.
Banner Image: Near Calf Hill. Attribution: Gaye McCrum

We spent a very interesting and informative morning listening and looking at artefacts, most of them local, ranging in date from the  upper paleolithic era to modern times. Alex Whitlock one of the Finds Liaison Officers for Lancashire and Cumbria revealed his knowledge of various finds that are logged by the Portable Antiquities Scheme  or PAS. This body was set up after the Treasure Act specifically for the reporting of finds by the public.

PAG Group members Jan. 2020 with FLO Alex Whitlock. Attribution: GW

Apparently in the early Bronze Age (EBA) material for making implements was thought to be ‘brought by the gods”. From knapped flints which provided scrapers to axe technology, we were riveted…     Interestingly and unusually one mesolithic flint was found with resin attached meaning that it would provide a suitable spot for attaching arrow heads or flints.  In the mid BA technology shifted to socketed axes, spear heads had peg holes and loops to hold the implement in place.   Flint and stone use continued into the Iron Age (IA). Past material was sometimes re used or re purposed in later years for example a  neolithic flint core showed signs of being used again in the BA.

Members listening to the talk on PAS. Jan 2020. Attribution:GW

There was a copper alloy functional clothing pin from the (IA)  some were of a lynch pin type, others a toggle arrangement. Late IA or early Roman harness rings and reins have also been found. Brooches in the Roman period have been found specific to Britannia. The use of currency started in the IA perhaps when the Romans traded with Britain before invading, sadly no local or north west currency has come to light – yet…   There also seems to be a dearth of pottery, some Samian ware and black ware which were imported have been found.

The Anglo Saxon period was largely aceramic but that era has revealed a scabbard the top of which is gilded with a garnet. Early mediaeval times revealed coinage which was more simple,  a step down from Roman currency then.. The post mediaeval period reveals a decorated spindle whorl, a find from earlier AS times is a sandstone loom weight found close to the Sen house in Maryport.

Alex stated that the finds that the public make help to re write history, these people include gardners, hikers, metal detectors.    A good, relatively local example of this is the Cuerdale Hoard  discovered in 1840 on the southern bank of the River Ribble near Preston. It is the second largest Viking hoard ever found and is displayed at the British Museum.

If you are interested in the history of Britain and your local area in particular it is well worth browsing the PAS  website – https://finds.org.uk/ and an absolute must for amateur armchair archaeologists, you will find a box of delights.

Anyone for a walk along the River Ribble near Preston?

Did you know?

That a lead Roman weight was recyled – recoated – in recent times and the Vikings recycled an early mediaeval lead weight.

In the post mediaeval period a lead alloy hornbook was created and is to be seen on the PAS website.

That Elizabethan silver coinage is the purest silver coinage to be produced in Britain.

That Cistercian floor tiles found at Whalley are also to be found at Fountains Abbey and near Beverley. An example of early corporate  branding perhaps?

Banner Image: Ceramic Floor tile at Whalley Abbey. Presently in Clitheroe Castle Museum. Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net

 

Kevin Cootes proved to us that Cheshire was not ‘a black hole’ in the Iron Age nor is it ‘not well known archaeologically’. After outlining nearby settlements, Chester amphitheatre and Meols for example he expanded on the Poulton site. This in an ideal position on a plateau overlooking a rich agricultural flood plain and near to the motorways of history.  He riveted our attention on its multi stage occupancy, evidence of Roman habitation and work shops overlying Iron Age roundhouses of which there were plenty.

Prehistory Study Day. Secretary Jean Hardman and speaker Kevin Cootes. Attribution: A Hardman

The site – Chapel Field – was excavated at the request of the farmer who had made an accidental discovery of decorated stone, showing a small mediaeval chapel. Unsurprisingly graves were found but astonishingly these numbered 950 the largest burial excavation in Britain. Roman pottery was found in 14th/15th C. graves which led to an assessment of the landscape which was crammed with gulleys which gave up thousands of Roman finds including industrial waste. Unheard of previously and especially in rural Cheshire.  Poulton contains the largest number of Iron Age (IA) roundhouses in lowland NW England in one place, there were ditches, multiple post holes, five thousand finds including lithics. The ditches are very deep 1.5M, 1K plus animal bones were found including traction animals. The cattle and sheep were found to be raised in Poulton. The first antler working was also found here.   Roundhouse 3 turned out to be the most intriguing, with two dog burials apparently an IA tradition. A few human bones were also found here as scraps perhaps thrown in with the rubbish. The site was virtually aceramic but one pot containing 10kg salt was found a large amount but useful in preserving food. Industrial waste included iron, copper mould for dress pins, an iron adze was also found which may have been made on the site.  Stone tools were also revealed. Kevin outlined the environmental vegetation 45% of this was found in Roundhouse 3 and it possible that this may have been part of a closing down feast.  The findings over decades from this fascinating multiperiod site is part of a very vibrant historical story in North West lowland England.

Prehistory Study Day. Sam Walsh chats to Eddie Aldersley. Attribution: A Hardman

Sam Walsh is currently working on remains for Kurdistan from 7,700 years ago. She explained what the study of osteology reveals about past humans such as age at death, sex, health, disease, trauma, burial practices and preservation of bodies.   Mostly in the North west people in the BA were cremated.  The colour of the bone, fragmentation, size of fragments and fracture patterns all tell the own story.  Burials in the BA were commonly in round barrows either singly or in groups, cremation became more common later in the BA where remains were put in urns which were then buried.

Liffs Low and Arbor Low in Derbyshire and Winterbourne near Stoke are well known sites. Cairns were also used such as the one at Whitelow Ramsbottom, where most of the remains have been lost but where there were 12 burials, one in a patterned urn dating 2K to 1700BC.  More locally is Carriers Croft at Pendleton excavated by John Hallam in the 60’s and 70’s revealing large fragments of well preserved bone in two urns. In urn three was a gold object the only gold found in Lancashire associated with burials.  Other sites where human remains can be found include stake and post hut circles such as at Poulton and the Bleasdale circle and places such as Little Meg and caves such as Fairy Holes that was mentioned by Rick earlier.  Other sites in Lancashire include Astley Hall and Bolton-le-Sands.  Sam’s fascinating studies revealed that in the EBA  grave goods were associated more with women than men and it was women more than men whose remains were represented in Lancashire.

Ear Plug from Whitelow. Attribution: Sam Walsh

Mike Woods interested us with more local sites including Portfield Camp in the Whalley gap. There are two vallates here, its a very difficult site to discern for archaeologists due to the ground being heavily disturbed by the laying of water pipe lines. In 1966 a BA smith’s hoard including two gold items was found. Research in the 1980’s revealed the prescence of post holes suggesting structures inside the fort. It is thought to be late BA early IA. Portfield is on a route way up from Preston along the Ribble to Whalley and also at one end of the Pendle Ridgeway track from Water Meetings at Barrowford to Portfield.   Mike outlined the structure of the area of Water meetings revealed by Lidar and geophysics. Both these forts are at either end of the Hidden Valley.    Another local hillfort Castercliffe on a prominent site overlooking the Pendle area has three vallates and evidence of vitrification caused by burning, was this done by attackers or was it done by the occupants when they left the site or was it something more mundane?  Another local area at Noggarth has some intriguing grey stones that present a ladder boundary and need further investigation.

Last but not least the Chair of Pendle Archaeology Group, Catherine Rousseau Jones  outlined the digs on Calf Hill above Sabden and on the flanks of Pendle Hill – not that far from Pendleton. Towards the end of the dig in September evidence of a possible 10 ft diameter circle was discovered and included in finds was a large amount of quartz pebbles which may be significant.   Also tantalizingly and found by a metal detectorist was a BA knife,  found in the valley overlooked by the site. Intriguing indeed and the planned further excavations will hopefully help to further understanding of prehistory in the area.

What an enjoyable and amazing day this was, interesting, informative, amusing and giving us the knowledge that there are lots of people out there working hard to discover what is in the earth beneath our feet. Their work (and that of others) will further establish the significance of the  North West in being a vibrant part of prehistory in the UK and definitely challenges the preconceived idea  (dare I say of those southerners) of there being a void in the North West.

With grateful thanks to all these marvellous speakers and the people who worked hard to make the day a success.

We hope to hold another Study day on Pennine Industrialisation – this will now be later in 2020.

Did you know?

80% of IA finds are from Poulton. That the first fish bone from the IA  in Central Britain is from Poulton – 798BCk.

The colour of cremated bone attests to pyre efficiency, white bone is the result of temperatures of 600 degrees or more.

Banner Image: Burial Urn. Whitelow. Credit: Sam Walsh

What a super day that was, a dazzling array of speakers who informed and entertained the audience with a box of delights from around the North West.

First from the post was Rick Peterson who outlined developments in the Whitewell area. Fairy Holes cave with its intriguing well developed opening has a long history of occupation albeit intermittently and an early Bronze Age (EBA) cremation has been found. Onto Mosley Heights near Cliviger Gorge inbetween Burnley and Todmorden where the Walter Bennett (of literary fame) mounted a voluntary rescue operation before the site was developed for open cast mining by the NCB.  In just four weeks with the help of untrained sixth form volunteers he rescued a good number of artefacts from the EBA  cairn site, including blades, arrowheads and barbed and tongued arrows, scraper, knife a ground stone and pot boilers. Bennett found the pottery leaving the cupboard bare when Rick and Uclan students later dug and reappraised the site.  They did discover though that the collared urn made from local clay had white bits within the wall of the pot which is thought to be ground up human bone.  Thus demonstrating the commemorative aspect of cultural life in the BA.  Both of these sites demonstrate long term usage, the EBA being the last phase of habitation and both are local to us.  Rick has a blog site – Sheltering Memory – it is well worth a visit.

Prehistory Study Day. Speakers from left, Mike Woods, Kevin Grice, Rick Peterson, Sam Walsh, Catherine Rousseau- Jones and Chair Gayle Wray. Attribution: A Hardman

Next off the block was Kevin Grice a Community Archaeologist involved with uncovering Warton Crag which according to the Victoria County History is “situated in a perfect position on a prominent limestone hill” overlooking Morecambe Bay with a wonderful 360 degree  panorama. It is a site on the ‘At risk’ register it is  also a triple SI which means that the archaeology comes after the natural habitat and preservation of fauna and flora.   Research via maps, antiquarian and modern sources and Lidar revealed a triumvallete hill fort.   In 1912 Jackson found the bones of 20 humans and it was deemed a sepulcharal site. The Warton Sword now in the British Museum is an iron sword with a bronze pommel but may not be from the site.  It may be that the site wasn’t inhabited permanently but was a defensive look out or a meeting or ceremonial place.  Kevin showed images of intriguing upper ramparts, the site is well worth a visit, however be warned conditions underfoot are treacherous, the ramparts can be seen from the butterfly rides. He also demonstrated that Hutchinson’s map of 1785 was remarkable in that it closely aligns with todays Lidar images of the site.   Our attention was drawn to  other intriguing sites around Morecambe Bay for example Castle Head and Skelmore Head where BA connections have been confirmed.  There must have been links to Stanwick a huge Iron Age fort, thought to be the headquarters of Cartimandua, four miles away. An intriguing site and due for reappraisal according to Kevin.

Warton Crag IA Hillfort.
Attribution: Kevin Grice

Debbie Hallam revealed the palimpsest landscape of the Yorkshire Dales making us folk from Lancashire fair envious of the huge numbers of artefacts that the earth has revealed over the past decades. Clusters of finds around Skipton and Romabald moor number around 45,900 lithics. John Thorpe’s collection numbers around eighteen thousand and there are other smaller collections. The material was surprisingly mostly flint, followed by chert  (in one area flint was 92.4% and chert 7.6%) and the assemblages were mostly flake, blade and microliths. From Malham Tarn area came an early Neolithic leaf blade.   All finds were well above sea level and away from the valley floors. Regarding the various types of ceramics there was a link here to the collared urn with the white bits mentioned earlier on Mosley Heights where at Talthorpe  sherds were decorated with bird bone. In 2018 Backstone Beck in Ilkley gave up Groove ware and lithics and across the beck rock art was available for discovery.  Watlowes at Malham also delivered beaker pottery and jet was found in Arncliffe and Darnbrook, the nearest place where jet was found is Ireland!  How amazing is this and almost on our doorstep.

 

Did you know?

There is a 1576 map of Lancashire commissioned by William Cecil the most important minister in Elizabeth 1’s reign, whilst it shows Warton Crag it also shows other hills suitable for beacons to warn of the Spanish Armada demonstrating that the Invasion was not just an English Channel problem. (Kevin Grice)

That Tom Booth maintains that the genetic ancestry of some dales folk is from Anatolian Aegean neolithic farmers (modern Turkey) it is thought that these continental migrants brought different farming and cultural practices to our Mesolithic ancestors.  Apparently this is still a live debate. (Debbie Hallam)

Banner Image: Shaft hole adze. Attribution: Debbie Hallam

On a hot summer’s day (yes, we do occasionally get those up north), a small group visited the excavation of a series of First World War practice trenches located within Long Wood, an area of ancient semi-natural woodland located in Copley, Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

Trenchtop. Long Wood, Copley. Attribution: C. Rousseau Jones

The site was initially recorded during winter 2017 as part of the National Lottery Heritage Funded, Pennine Prospects led Celebrating Our Woodland Heritage project. However, very little is known about when the trenches were formed, and who excavated them.

 

We enjoyed a guided tour of the trenches by Chris Atkinson, and found some similarities with our excavations. We were also interested by the old trackway crossing the wood.

Track at Long Wood Copley. Attribution: C. Rousseau Jones

 

Return journey via Todmorden for some much needed tea and cake.

 

Thanks to Chris for enabling our visit. Thanks to Roger for chauffeuring us in air conditioned luxury.

 

C.Rousseau-Jones July 2019

Banner Image: Excavation at Long Wood Copley. Attribution: C. Rousseau Jones

On a sunny day, the group set off from Anna’s Café to explore the hillsides and valley of Weir, our main objective being the mysterious Broadclough Dykes. Sites in the area date from prehistory to the industrial revolution and beyond.

Weir contains houses of many dates. It allowed the group to see water-shot coursing and find out about how it can be used to date houses. The group were interested to learn about the Co-operative store and the village’s 1918 war memorial1.

The Co-op store building at Weir. Attribution: C Rousseau Jones

Walking past Weir Hotel, the group climbed to the old turnpike road. The road dates from 1755 and tolls were paid on the road until 18802. There are interesting earthworks on both sides of the road, including the site of quarry.

Track at Broadclough Dykes. Attribution: C. Rousseau Jones

We continued on a rarely used footpath to Broadclough Dykes. The Dykes were described by Dr Whitaker in 18183 as “an entrenchment to which no tradition is annexed that may serve to ascertain either its antiquity, or the end it was designed to answer.” Although the group did not come to a conclusion about the date or use of the earthwork, we did decide that they are spectacular and very interesting.

A dyke at Broadclough, Weir. Attribution: C Rousseau Jones

Leaving Broadclough Dykes, we passed remains of Broadclough Colliery Coal Mine and had a good view of Broadclough Mill. The Grade 2 Broadclough Mill was built in 1824 as successful water powered woollen mill which became steam powered by the 1830s, becoming a cotton spinning mill following enlargement2.

A happy duo on the dyke road. Attribution C. Rousseau Jones

There were more remains to be viewed on Dog Pits Lane. The old bridge is Grade 2 listed and said to date from the 18th century or before. The remains of Dog Pits Mill, a water mill predating Broadclough Mill, could be seen amongst the trees.

Following a path past farms of different periods, the group returned on Weir Lane to Anna’s Café for further refreshments.

PAG would like to thank the landowners who allowed the group access to Broadclough Dykes, which are in area between footpaths and therefore not usually accessible.

 

  1. Rousseau-Jones July 2019

 

  • bacuptimes.co.uk
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  • Thomas Dunham Whitaker 1818 An history of the original parish of Whalley, and honor of Clitheroe : in the counties of Lancaster and York
Ramparts Roman Fort Derventio near Malton
The Ramparts of the Roman Fort at Malton.      C Rousseau-Jones. 2019

 

The Roman Fort Derventio near Malton with the adjoining vicus was the destination for an excellent Pendle Archaeology Group day trip.

The morning weather was kind to the group with plenty of sunshine and little rain.  After setting off bright and early from various starting points and visiting a coffee shop, the group gathered at The Old Lodge, Malton.  We were met by Senior Lecturer Steve Roskams from the Archaeology Department of the University of York.

 

The Roman Fort Derventio

Derventio Brigantium to give it its full name was founded around AD71 but both a Norman castle and Elizabethan house were later erected on the site.  After an introductory talk, we walked out of the fort where students are currently carrying out excavations under the direction of Steve.  Originally excavated in the 1930s, Time Team have also dug on this site and a video can be seen here.

Roman Fort Derventio near Malton Vicus
Trench in the Vicus.
C Rousseau-Jones
Roman Fort Derventio near Malton dig
Trench in the Vicus.
C Rousseau Jones.

 

 

We learnt about the Romans in Malton, and the place of Roman Malton within Roman Britain. We were excited to handle some Roman finds including pottery, a coin, a key and a glass bead.  It was probably 1500 years since these last saw the light of day!

Malton

Following our tour of the site, the group enjoyed some free time. Activities included visiting Malton museum (small but interesting), walking around Malton itself (interesting buildings) and visiting a café (again!). Rain and hail then stopped play, but the group enjoyed an interesting and educational trip.

Our thanks to Catherine Rousseau-Jones for organising it and Steve Roskams for a fascinating tour.

Why not join us at a future event?  We really are a friendly bunch!

 

 

 

A meander through a Yorkshire village obviously appealed to our members.  A bakers dozen joined in the walk around this interesting dales village.  We  looked at many features of vernacular architecture including drip mouldings, chamfered mullions, date stones and moulded eaves. Railway houses built by the Settle Carlise railway could be seen on the East Green.

Stainforth

Stainforth & Knight Stainforth. Field lynchets
Field lynchets. Stainforth.                                      C. Rousseau Jones
Datestones Stainforth & Knight Stainforth
Stainforth Datestones                                               C. Rosseau-Jones

Intially we started looking at the field lynchets on both sides of the main road.  Next we saw the  Raines Barn and cottage at the edge of the village.  Like many Yorkshire villages Stainforth has a mix of housing built over four centuries. Prominent houses built in the 19th century stand cheek by jowl with earlier 17th and 18th centuries buildings.

However, not only humans need shelter and bee boles could be seen across the village.  These are alcoves built into walls to acomodate a skep, an early form of beehive. The remains of the stocks, the sites of the two now sadly defunct schools,  a ladies walk, stepping stones, coach houses and an artist studio. A slaughter house, hennery piggery, village institute, old village fountain, the sites of old mills, dye houses and a tenter field.  Nearby was the old village corn mill.  However, the list goes on but the old packhorse bridge led us to the Craven Heifer, formerly the Pack Horse Inn.  Regrettably, we had too little time for a beer!

Knight Stainforth

After lunch we completed the tour and visited Knight Stainforth.  Stainforth is split into two parishes. Stainforth and Little Stainforth or Knight Stainforth, are accessed over an attractive single track bridge.    Built in 1672, the Hall and cottage here were yet more interesting buildings!

Stainforth old stocks
What’s left of the stocks at Stainforth.                                            C. Rousseau Jones

Notable people connected to the villages are Roger de Poitou, who held the land but never visited. Later, when his land was forfeited it came into the hands of the de Percy’s and thence to Sawley Abbey. The Tempest and Darcy families also lived there. Sir Richard Tempest b. 1425 fought in the Wars of the Roses. A later Richard Tempest was buried in Giggleswick church alongside his two wives and the head of his horse! Samuel Watson an apparently notable and intransigent local figure became a Quaker and the Hall became licensed as a Quaker Meeting House.   The Hall appears to have been in the hands of the Maudsley family for around 170 years now. One Henry Maudsley helped to start and fund the world renowned Maudsley Hospital in London at the beginning of the 20th century.

We received a warm welcome from some of the residents of the village but the area is well worth another visit.  Without time to visit the Hofmann Kiln at Langcliffe or Victoria Cave we did find time for the usual tea and cream scones before we we wended our way home!

Did you know?

The Maudsley Hospital has had a pick axe on its coat of arms since 1985 – a nod to the symbol that is on the Maudsley coat of arms at the Hall at Knight Stainforth.

Why not join us on a future event?  We’re a friendly bunch!

On a dry and calm Saturday, with hazy sun, the Pendle Archaeology Group decided to revisit Heyhouses in the ‘Hidden’ or Sabden Valley. The morning was spent exploring the old settlement and talking about its historical and agricultural background from the 14C to the late 18C. This involved examining old photos of cottages, comparing old maps with modern ones and discussing what had disappeared.

Lodge at Heyhouses, connected to the Caolico Print Works. Attribution: C. Rousseau Jones

At the end of the 18C came the Calico Printworks and the impact of the Industrial Revolution on Sabden was immediate. Textile printers poured into the hamlet in increasing numbers from Padiham, Accrington, Rossendale and from as far afield as Preston. The demand for housing led to Top, Step, Bury, Crow Trees, Centre and Long Rows. The first church to be built was the Baptist Church in 1797. Baptism was not by fire, but by a refreshing immersion in the mill lodge on Badger Wells Water.

These printworks consumed vast quantities of clean water and soon Badger Wells Water could not supply all that was required. New lodges were built up the Sabden Brook valley between Sabden and Dean Farm. After lunch, the group played detective. Using a blank 1844 map, they mapped the many lodges and water channels, so as to understand the complexities of one aspect of the calico printing process.

The former Calico Print Works at Sabden. Courtesy of Brian Jeffery

After a final discussion, the group briefly looked at an even older water channel and a potential ‘bloomery’ or early iron smelting site before departing for a well-earned cup of tea.            Brian Jeffery 24 March 2019

We also listened to a surprising impromptu rendering of poignant poetry by William Neary and  heard the cry of the curlews too.

Banner Image: Culvert at Heyhouses, connected to the Calico Print Works. Attribution: C. Rousseau Jones

On a morning of mixed weather – sunshine, rain, hail and wind we walked around the amazing manmade landscape that is the remains of the Shedden Clough limestone industry.

Intrepid walkers at Shedden Clough. Attribution: C. Rousseau

It is thought that the limestone workings were in use from the 16th century until the late 18th century when local lime was in demand for building and agriculture. It was only with the opening of the canals that lime production in other areas became more profitable.

Pack Horse Route at Shedden Clough. Attribution: C.Rousseau Jones
Shedden Pack Horse Bridge. Attribution: C. Rousseau Jones

The walk started at the storage ponds, where water was stored from the nearby streams before being released down the hill. This washed out rocks which could be sorted. Those containing limestone were fired in the kiln. The extracted lime was removed from the site by the ‘Limegals’ (ponies).

The walk was shortened due to the weather. Our trip to Hurstwood and Worsthorne will take place at a later date

What a smashing day on all counts! A good turn out and convivial company, one of the best February days ever and a most interesting walk.

Hi Ho……. On the way to the Fox Clough coal mine. Attribution C. Rousseau Jones

Richard Matthews introduced us to what was an area heavily involved in coal mining going back to the 1600’s in places.   We had a good look around the Fox Clough coal mine pumping engine site and visited the Waterside and Carry Bridge areas of Colne and also the mining areas of Trawden. Ruins of the ‘pit head’ were seen however it won’t be long before they’re no longer there.   Richard has done a lot of work in uncovering what can now be seen. Amongst other interesting features, we also viewed the remains of round tunnels which were probably robbed out by local folk for building. We also had a bird’s eye view of bonny Colne and could see the mill where the coal would have been taken to, on tracks that are no longer visible…

Pumphouse. Fox Clough
Attribution: C. Rousseau Jones.

A most interesting feature was the forge in what would have been the ruins of the smithy.   A huge and solid oblong shape with the marks of the smith scored on the stone and the centre filled with ash.

Forge.Fox Clough
Attribution: C. Rousseau Jones

This outing provided us with a flavor of what life would have been like for the locals in past centuries, although the mine is very sheltered and indeed very hard to find without a guide, the workers would have been very exposed to the elements as they walked across the fields to work.

Gatepost.
Attribution: C. Rousseau Jones

Along our journey we spied the diamond shaped scorings on gate stones guiding the people who could not read to work.   We saw and heard the first curlews and lapwings and saw our first Peacock Butterfly!

And what could be better than ending the day be a visit to the Admiral Lord Rodney!

Banner Image: Scored marks on the gate posts to guide miners who could not read, to the right mine. Attribution: C. Rousseau Jones

This was another excellent talk by Maggie Simms which again fascinated and enthralled the Friends at the start of the 2018/19 season.

Iraq is where the evidence for the worlds’ oldest cities lies.  A succession of groups of people have competed to own it and each has left its mark.   The ziggurat at Ur, of the Chaldeans, was built around four thousand years ago and surprisingly was recently ‘preserved’ by Saddam Hussein, he also instigated the use of a cable car at Babylon. It seems amazing that those last four words would ever appear in the same sentence.

Ziggarat at Ur Attibution: Maggie Simms

The land between the Tigris and Euphrates is also known as the ‘fertile crescent’ it is a vital piece of land that also glues the three continents of Africa, India and Europe together. As people shifted across the area there was also a shifting of ideas and practices.  In the reign of the Ottoman Empire this area became known as Mesopotamia.. (Meso – middle, potus – water horse). This vast landscape is covered in archaeology, the ruins and artefacts are a great legacy of the people who lived there over thousands of years.   Hill shaped mounds are sometimes evidence of a Tel, the Arabic word for hill. These were formed when the mud bricks crumbled and were stamped down in order for a rebuild to take place.

A looming question then and now is who owned the oil. It is indeed ‘black gold’, the Mesopotamians used bitumen, a product of oil. The pitch or tar held buildings together as reed mats were soaked in tar which would harden between the layer of bricks and it was also used in boat building.   Pitch was also highly valued in Mediaeval times by apothecaries. Some of us can remember that when the streets in Lancashire were repaired, coal tar was put between the cobbles and parents would urge children with coughs and colds to breathe in the fumes to ‘clear the lungs’. Do you also remember Coal Tar Soap?

One nugget that emerged was that the Persian city of Ctesiphon built over 2,000 years ago, was the largest city in the world in the sixth and seventh centuries and held the biggest brick built arched structure in the world until the middle ages, the arch of Chosroes in the royal palace. Miraculously and without the intervention of trained architects it is still standing today. Will we be able to say the same of todays contemporary structures?

Arch of Ctesiphon. Atrribution: Sgt Rebecca Schwab, 2nd Brigade. 10th Mountain Div. USD- C

Of course as Maggy reminded us, it is debatable when considering whose history is the right and proper history and whose past is the right and proper past. Isn’t it said that history is written by the victors?

Societies in the fertile crescent were based along rivers, marshes and coastal areas.   The reed boats they used for transport have not been found, however depictions of them on images and models do exist. They were leaf shaped boats that traversed the Persian Gulf.

 

Maggy revealed that it was due to the efforts of Austin Henry Leyard a British ‘toff’ that established that Nineveh existed, it is said to be one of the greatest and oldest cities in antiquity.   Leyard made friends with the locals and brought home cartloads of statues including dozens of carved slabs depicting the famed winged bulls and other sculputures. Some of which can be seen in the British Museum today in the fabulous galleries dedicated to Assyrian culture. ( An unmissable experience).

It would seem that the world also owes a debt to Geoffrey Smith, an autodidact, who worked for free for the British Museum and in 1872 transcribed the complex and hugely difficult Flood Tablet. This wedge shaped block written in cuneiform around 1800 BCE caused a sensation when transcribed, Smith ran round the British Library when he discovered the key! This discovery was apparently responsible for stimulating a surge of interest in the Middle East. It is very intriguing how the same  story  appears in the Jewish Bible – Old Testament in 800BCE.   The tablet, in the British Museum, which was excavated by Hormuzd Rassam is from the Library of Ashurbanipal II at Nineveh, northern Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq. It is apparently very small and innocuous looking for such a famed and far reaching story. Might it be the first written indication of climate change?.

Tablet X1 of the Epic of Gilmagesh AKA ‘The Flood Tablet’. Attribution: Osama Skukir Muhammed Amin.

Another fascinating nugget was the story of the reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate of Babylon by German archaeologists. They seemed to be amongst the first archaeologists to take the job seriously, making site plans before excavating. Apparently they found that the cobalt blue tiles lay in heaps as the mud bricks which they faced had turned to dust. Their painstaking work resulted in the stunning architectural panels in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Another must see. See also the banner image.

Maggy informed us that Ur was occupied from 5,000 BCE until around 500 BCE. Obviously over these 4,000 years geological and natural forces of deposition have shifted the courses of rivers and pushed what were coastal areas sometimes as far as 7,300m inland.

Archaeologists also owe a debt to Leonard Woolley, when he was excavating at Ur he looked at the soil strata in the walls of the pits and discerned discoloration, he was one of the first to discover this, archaeologists routinely look for strata discoloration today. He is also famed for his discovery of the artefacts in the huge royal death pits. Puabi’s grave surrendered fabulously rich Sumerian headgear and necklaces that were fitted for a Queen. (Again in the BM and stunning to look at). A gruesome feature of these burials was the ‘retainer sacrifice’.   Skeletons of servants were posed after death, which may have been from blunt force trauma to the back of the skull, let’s hope they were sedated first! Ur also gave up what is known as the Standard of Ur, demonstrating peace and plenty on one side and warfare on the other side.

Found at Ur. Queen Puabi’s elaborate headdress. Leonard Woolley

This was a most illuminating evening with someone who is clearly in command of her subject and who transferred her enthusiasm and delight to her audience, the supporting visual imagery also helped us to envisage the area  and those times even further.

And did you know?

That there are still huge amounts of archaeological artefacts strewn over this vast landscape, thousands of years of history waiting to be picked up and identified…

That Elam an area in the Persian Gulf still retains the same name as in biblical times…

That the Epic of Gilmagesh is one of the worlds most continuous narrated stories, it was already ancient when it was written down as one of the Old Babylonian tablets as was the Flood (or Deluge) Story aforementioned which is part of the Epic.

That if you visit the Louvre you will be able to see the The Stele of the Vultures which among the first panels that depicts the first evidence of organized warfare along with the Royal Standard mentioned above.

Banner Image: Part of the Ishtar Gate, Pergamonn Museum, Berlin. Date approximately 575 BCE. The 8th of 8 gates of the Inner City of Babylon. Erected by Nebuchadrezzar 605-575 BCE. Attribution:Etrick.

Pendle’s Hidden Valley Field Walk (14 April 2018) Upper Craggs

The Joy Of Flexibility – aka. The Best Laid Plans Of Mice & Men

Alex Whitlock

 

The intention had been to look at possible prehistoric features between the Nick Of Pendle and Ogden Clough. And for the first few hundred yards we stuck to that resolve. However, half our number were largely unacquainted with the area and there was a degree of curiosity about our earlier digs around Craggs. So….

Beast Of The Day – A lovely lively local scarab
(image – A Whitlock, all rights reserved)

We struck out for the old clamp kilns we dug a couple of years ago. En route we visited the Chartist Well and tried, And not for the first time, to find the track of the original track to Craggs Dole – marked on maps until very recently. Once again it eluded us but it did take us to the site of the kilns. Having sped along at 1 mph (1.6 kph), we decided to have an early picnic in the bowl of the kilns. For some it was an opportunity for a little lie down – the urge probably set in lack of motion by my potted history of our exploration. A local (above) had it heard it all before and tried to leg it (x6).

Rested we continued along the probable line of the medieval highway, passing above the site of Great Craggs. From there we took advantage of low bracken levels to look at previously uninvestigated areas. A series of one thing after anothers led us to the outline of a small building that had not been recorded before. Nearby were some enigmatic scatters of stone.

Water supply for the fold’s sheep wash pool
(image – A Whitlock, all rights reserved)

A short stroll down to look at the old sheep folds and its later system of water management (above) and we reached our point of return. We walked back to Great Craggs at a lower level than our outward journey. As we did so the sun came out and a light bulb appeared over my head. The newly discovered features were above an area that has produced worked chert (below), limestone’s version of flint, in the past. There exists the strong probability that one of these scatters of stone may have been used in prehistory.

Prehistoric chert blade fragment. Find of the day?
(image – A Whitlock, all rights reserved)

So in spite of deviating from the original plan, we did find another piece of the area’s prehistoric puzzle. Replete with new knowledge, we returned to the cars along the Victorian track from Churn Clough Res in bright sun with layers being shed on the way. There was also quite a bit of sago in the puddles….

After yesterday afternoon’s colossal effort, this morning was sedate. Georgina & I spent the morning cleaning the worst off some of the finds so that they could be stored until it was time for proper cleaning and analysis. We also had a look at the trench & put a few sods back in place. The rest need to go down. Weather permitting, I will probably do that on my lonesome on Friday (unless anyone is fool enough to come & help). Rain is forecast tomorrow which should mean it won’t be as hot as it was when we refilled the trench yesterday.

T1 – turfs up but they need to go down

Georgina managed to get a Find Of The Day! She spotted a small piece of pottery among the sods and it turned out to be a rim sherd from a late Medieval/early Post Medieval vessel – quite a fancy one too. It is quite finely potted with glaze both inside & outside, possibly from something like a drinking bowl.

Find Of The Day – rim sherd of a late Medieval/early Post Medieval vessel
Beasts Of The Day were a colony of pond skaters making the most of the available water, cute little things & very soothing to watch them.
That is pretty much it for these daily write ups. There will be updates as and when new developments emerge – particularly as we start the post excavation process. Keep your eyes open for sessions you can join in with on the Future Events page.
My thanks are extended to all those who have helped or come to visit us – especially Catherine, Gayle & Steven who put in many hours of hard work, also Georgina, Idris & Peter – and to our hosts who gave us such luxurious quarters as our site hut.
It has been an odd fortnight or so – we arrived on site expecting to find remnants of the Medieval occupation site and have ended up with what looks like a prehistoric knapping site. That’s Pendle’s Hidden Valley and archaeology for you – ask them questions and you are always going to be surprised by the answers.
Alex Whitlock
Beasts Of The Day – a whole bunch of them there critters

Yesterday we finished digging, so today we had a few things to do before we could start throwing all the stuff we had taken out over the last fortnight back in again. Sooooooooooo in the morning we photographed and recorded all the sections (the sides) of the trench. Only then did an elite task force of three put over seven tonnes of stone, soil, & etc, back into the trench and tamp it down ready for the turf – in under 4 hours mind you. Just goes to show how tough rice pudding skins can be. I was amazed and have to say a huge thank you to Idris​ and Peter for their superhuman efforts. Hope they can move in the morning.

2 out of 3 of the back filling team – pyramid to the fore

Find Of The Day was among the stones removed from the feature. It will need confirmation but we seem to have at least one hammer stone from Feature 1.

Find Of The Day – a possible hammer stone

Beast Of The Day was a gorgeous ground beetle that spent time running over us ensuring we were free from slugs.

All that remains to be done on site is putting the sods (that huge Mesoamerican pyramid in the pic) back where they came from & putting the site hut back as it was before we invaded.
Then it’s the post ex, starting with washing the finds we have found since the last rainy day – anyone up for a bit of scrubbing?

Alex Whitlock

ps You can now make comments on posts (see below)

Beast Of The Day – this gorgeous ground beetle

Last day of digging today. Even hotter than yesterday so regular retreats to the shade with bottles of water were necessary. A bit more Context 3 was peeled back & Features 1 and 2 were recorded and excavated. The trench photo was taken at close of play today.

Trench 1 still in the sun

Find Of The Day made up part of the structure of Feature 1. It has slumped onto its side but the original packing and bedding is visible in the section photo with a 10 cm scale leaning against it. It is almost certainly an anvil stone used by the prehistoric inhabitants to knap stone tools. A lot of worked chert debitage (waste) has been found in the feature & this should help give us a date when analysed.

Find Of The Day – anvil stone at an angle

Beast Of The Day was a site hut hoverfly. It was being quite territorial & attacked any nasty flies (greenbottles mainly) that came into the hut.

Tomorrow morning the sections will be recorded and then in the afternoon we have over six tonnes of material to encourage back into our excavation.

Alex Whitlock

Beast Of The Day – hut hoverfly
We had more fathers than mothers on site today and it was scorchio. Sondage D has been taken down to ‘the natural’, Feature 1 has been cleaned up and recorded, ditto Feature 2, and elsewhere more of Context 3 is being peeled back. Judging from the pottery found in it, Context 3 looks like it is probably Medieval and will hopefully give a clearer picture of how people lived on the site in that period.
1 in the sun
The Finds Of The Day are chert tools. Peter found a late Bronze Age/early Iron Age end scraper/gouge & Steven unearthed a D shaped scraper, probably Bronze Age, in Feature 2.
Finds Of The Day – worked chert – Peter’s end scraper/gouge & Steven’s D shaped scraper
As we picnicked in the shade we were joined by a rather cute money spider – probably a Linyphiidae species. It was quite happy to have its picture taken and is our Beast Of The Day.
One full day of digging left then its recording and backfilling on Tuesday. Many hands make light work and all that – nudge nudge wink wink….
Alex Whitlock
Beast Of The Day – the money spider who came to lunch

Today I started recording some of the sections and to help me do this I used some high tech – to wit a camera & some cotton buds . Well I do like the sections to be kept nice & clean. We make a record of the sections so that we have some idea of the layers of history (& different types of dirt) we have cut through. For our special guest diggers, the next generation of archaeologists, it was also a useful demonstration of the story archaeology can tell about a place.

East facing section of the Trench 1 extension

Gayle bagged yet another Find Of The Day – a lovely piece of a Medieval green glazed ware. Its a sherd from the top of a ‘strap’ handle off a large vessel, possibly a pitcher or flagon. They are called strap handles because they are made by attaching a strap like, rather than tube like, piece of clay to the vessel.

Find Of The Day – Medieval yellow/green glazed ‘strap’ handle pot sherd

There were lots of candidates for Beast Of The Day but as the weather was so much warmer they were much harder to photograph. My choice was a horsefly with amazing psychedelic eyes, but this was vetoed as I had rearranged it a bit. The actual Beast Of The Day was a somewhat worse for wear Green Veined White that alighted on the dig diary.

Beast Of The Day – a somewhat worse for wear Green Veined White

The weather bodes poorly for trench photography but fine for those digging for the rest of the dig. We have two more full days of digging then we will backfill on Tuesday arvo.

Alex Whitlock

My choice for Beast Of The Day (vetoed) – its all there, not necessarily in the right order though

We have been concentrating on the feature previously known as Idris’s Doughnut and trying to find ‘the natural’. The Doughnut continues to grow and now seems to be a made cobble platform of some sort & probably pre-dating the existing buildings in the area. The surface a short distance below it certainly pre-dates them – it was probably there when humans returned to the area as the ice retreated at the end of the last ice-age (not the film fyi). In different parts of the trench, Steven & Catherine dug through this grey silt and clay strata to expose a layer of stones dropped by the glacier as it traveled through the valley. These layers are ‘the natural’ so mission partially accomplished. In another sondage, in another part of the trench, Gayle had started to expose the top of what looks like the the silty layer by the end of the day.

Trench 1’s extension’s sondage’s sondage – so there


Steven’s journey into the deep past involved the pictured sondage within a sondage. The stoney layer is so closely packed that we were unable to get the point of the ranging rod into the ground. The white section (NOT including the point) is 50cm which gives some idea of the thickness of this layer. The silt and clay was probably deposited when the area was covered by a lake or slow moving body of water.

Find Of The Day – glacier poo aka a glacial erratic


Find Of The Day comes from the layer of stones below the silt. It’s a decent sized lump of sandstone that the glacier has carried from where it was formed and then dropped in our trench. There it sat patiently for about 15000 years or more, waiting for Catherine to come along and wrest it from it’s resting place. These bits of stone that drop from the bottom of the glacier are known as glacial erratics.

The Beast Of The Day has two rather splendid names – Pseudargyrotoza conwagana for formal occasions but Yellow Spot Twist to its friends.

Tomorrow we are hoping to unearth some more clues about our pebble made feature.

Alex Whitlock

Beast Of The Day – Pseudargyrotoza conwagana, what a name for a day flying micro moth

I’m sure the site’s archaeology is taunting us. Sondage A revealed what looks like the rest of the Doughnut. It’s a feature built of medium sized pebbles and it may well be a pad to go under a wooden post.

Trench 1 Sondage A showing the pebble made feature


After a day of finding mostly worked stone, today continued in much the same way (see Find Of The Day below) until….. near the pebble feature, Steven foung a large piece of late Medieval/early Post Medieval pottery. I had been wondering if the feature related to a Medieval structure and this suggests it was. What is confusing is why we have had so few finds from Anno Domini and so many from BC. I have been having thinks about that…


Find Of The Day is from BC (not Before Chert). It is a piece of worked quartz or quartzite, representing the increasing amount of this that we have been finding.

Find Of The Day – worked quartz

The one that is Find Of The Day is a wedge of quartz or quartzite that has then been retouched along its working edge – bracketed in red. Its a very hard material to work with any degree of control and it may have been more for ritual or show than practical use.


Beast Of The Day is a freshly emerged lacewing that took a shine to Georgina. Lacewings are predators of a number of pests including aphids.

Alex Whitlock

Beast Of The Day – a freshly emerged lacewing

We returned to the past today. In order to make the most of the time we have left we are opening three sondages in the existing trench. A sondage is basically a trench within a trench. We must be getting further back in time as today was aceramic. Our finds trays were all devoid of pottery but contained many pieces of worked chert.

Trench 1 Context 3 and Sondage C being excavated

Find Of The Day is…….Finds Of The Day….again. Well, you may be shocked to find out, it’s worked chert. The two examples pictured were found by in Sondages B and C.

Finds Of The Day - worked chert
Finds Of The Day – worked chert

Beast Of The Day was a furry friend saved from a watery doom. The Tegenaria was then reluctant to leave me until I placed it somewhere secluded.
For the rest of the week will be excavating by sondage. Hopefully we will manage to get back to the time before humans first stood upon this bit of Great Britain.

Alex Whitlock

Beast Of The Day – a furry friend saved from a watery doom

Just another Manic Monday.

Started off trying to make sure the small finds (individually numbered and measured in because they may be important) & bulk finds (recorded in bulk by context) were bagged and labeled properly and that all the paperwork matched up while the others started attacking context 3 in earnest.

Trench 1, Contexts 3 and 4 at close of play

Its been an odd context so far – some rather late looking glass & 2 bits of metal work, no pottery to speak of, and lots of lovely chert.
Find Of The Day is more Finds Of The Day. The Finds being the 2 bits of metal work. One was from Context 3 and the other from 4 (the Doughnut context). I’ve chosen them because they pose us a rather unwelcome puzzle. They need to be examined more before any thoughts can be formulated.

Find Of The Day – our 2 metal miscreants.

Beast Of The Day was a racing ground beetle larva, probably looking for some tasty slug snacks.
Rest day tomorrow then back into the pit on Wednesday.

Beast Of The Day – super fast ground beetle larva

We were at it again today, delving underground, lifting up rocks to peer into Pendle’s past. It’s getting more complex and older. The largest amount of pottery today was Medieval & there was precious little of that though Gayle did find a beauty. By far the most prolific material found today was stone, and chert in particular. The contexts we are working through have more stone in them than the upper two strata. Our finds are suggesting that the locals had been working lithics (making stone tools) in prehistory.

Trench 1 Context 4 or Feature 1 aka Idris’s Doughnut

The archaeology is getting more complex as well as older. The prime example of this is Idris’s Doughnut – picture above. Idris was tasked with excavating a potential feature in the north west of the trench. It turned out to be quarter of a shallow pit with a raised centre – a bit like a fossil ring doughnut. The fill had quite a lot of good quality silver grey chert in it.

Find Of The Day – the first charcoal of the dig

Also in the fill was the Find Of The Day, the first charcoal we have found on the dig. Charcoal is important to archaeologists because it has the potential to provide dating evidence through Carbon 14 testing. C14 is a radioactive isotope that decays at a steady rate so it is possible to tell from the amount left how long an organism has been dead. Charcoal from quick growing trees like hazel & willow produces more accurate dates than from trees like oak or ash. The testings not cheap though.

Beast Of The Day – a highly mobile cybermat

Beast Of The Day was found scooting around at high speed on the edge of the doughnut. It looks like a tiny little (less than 10mm) cybermat – and for certain garden pests it is just as deadly. The miniature terror is a rove beetle, probably Tachinus rufipes.

We will be digging tomorrow, day off Tuesday, then back to the trenches on Wednesday etc – and hopefully further back in time.

Alex Whitlock

Piddling down today so a few of us mainline archaeo junkies did some finds cleaning and on-the-hop site analysis. The top of context 3 has had a nice wash and cool down ready for a good doing over on Sunday.
Trench 1 Context 3 with special cooling areas for tomorrow’s heat
As is becoming usual with finds’ laundry days, Find Of The Day became obvious only after cleaning. Today’s little treasure was only in the finds tray as a bit of fun. One of our newer diggers had thought it was something like a scraper so I decided it could stay in the tray as an example of an ‘eolith’. A century or so ago these were stones originally thought to be artefacts of Britain’s earliest inhabitants but turned out to be of natural origin – the resemblance to actual tools being natural happenstance. People actually collect these lookalikes. Anyhooo once cleaned up our pet eolith bit us on the bum. With t’muck removed its true use was immedietely apparent. Covered in cut marks, smoothed grains, and the characteristic wide shallow U profile of an old fashioned sharpening or honing stone. If you have an old well used whetstone look at it side on and you will see that classic profile. A surprise find.
Find Of The Day – sharpening stone
Beast Of The Day is Empis tessellata, a fly on stilts with a taste for flowers jeweled with rain. It seemed to be supping the nectar from the bloom.
Beast Of The Day – a fly on stilts with a taste for flowers

One final note – while we will be digging next week, the site will be closed on Tuesday. We will be digging again on Wednesday though.

Alex Whitlock

Yay – it was digging weather again today and we worked our way down to our third context in the main part of the trench and played catch up in the extension. We are getting quite a bit of microlithic (ie tiny) flint mixed up with pottery from about 300 to about 700 years ago.
Trench 1 Context 2 (in the extension) and Context 3
Find Of The Day was made somewhere in the middle. Gayle found a ‘Marles’ chert side scraper or knife. The working edge is the top edge and you can see where it has been retouched (a way of sharpening the stone) at the skinny end. There is a series of removals on the other side to make it more comfortable to use.
Find Of The Day – ‘Marles’ chert tool. The working edge is the top edge.
The beast with two backs is our Beast Of The Day. It is actually two beasts of the same Chloropidae species doing their best to ensure that species survival.
Beast Of The Day – the beast with two backs aka a pair of very amorous Chloropidae
In an attempt to resolve various prehistoric questions raised by the dig, and compensate for days lost to rain, the dig will remain open into next week, except for Tuesday when the site will be closed. We are very grateful to the landowners for giving us the opportunity to bring the dig to a satisfactory conclusion.
Alex Whitlock
The rain returned today and it seemed to be enjoying itself. We cleaned about a third of yesterdays finds and theorised about what the artifacts we have found so far may tell us about the site’s history. We also looked at our soggy trench and saw a few things that have been exposed by the rain – see if you can spot a couple below.
Trench 1 Context 2 – There is at least one piece of ceramic and one piece of worked flint hiding in the picture.

Today we had a visit from Stuart Noon, the author of the recently published ’50 Finds From Lancashire’ (available in the Pendle Heritage Centre bookshop), who threw in a few theories of his own. It was he who spotted impressions on our daub fragment.

Find Of The Day – a fragment of daub with impressions left by the wattle

Find Of The Day is said fragment of daub with impressions left by the wattle. This may be from the existing 16th century building or from an earlier structure. Daub is notoriously hard to date and was used widely from prehistory until fairly recently.
Beast Of The Day was a cute little Garden Spider (& the remains of its last meal – possibly an earlier Beast) who kept us company in our site accommodation.

Alex Whitlock
Wonderful Wednesday indeed after the deluge of the previous two days. No rain and the stream was running clear. Today we continued lowering context 2 and are playing catch up in the small uphill extension.
Trench 1 + extension

We are having to go frustratingly carefully at the moment. Usually we would be at least twice as far down but there has been a significant amount of material pre dating the Georgians that requires a degree of delicacy and care so we can’t be too bullish.

Find Of The Day was by Catherine in the extension and is pre Georgian but not particularly delicate. It is a sherd from what was probably a Stuart platter or charger.
Find Of The Day – pottery sherd, probably from a Stuart platter or charger

There was a bit of competition for Beast Of The Day. Cuteness won and the decision went to a miniature myriapod, probably a baby centipede.

Alex Whitlock

The rain continued over night and into today which had left the nearby stream looking a bit excitable.
To accommodate the weather we had a late start and finished off some of the finds work in the morning.

Tuesday’s turbid torrent


After lunch we deturfed an extension to the trench. Gayle spotted the Find Of The Day on the newly exposed surface. It was tiny heat crazed microlithic flint chipping.

Find Of The Day – heat crazed microlithic flint chipping


The prevailing conditions meant the indigenous wildlife was a little reticent about showing itself. Beast Of The Day ended up being a damaged Diptera sharing our site accommodation.
Forecast for tomorrow is good and the turfs up so its time to trowel ten.

Miserable Monday indeed. Yeh verily it did piddle down all day. But lo, we were not daunted, for we were fortified with hot drinks and comfortable seats.

The covers stayed on the playing fields today


We spent to day cleaning finds to date and starting the assessment of the bulk finds. Find Of The Day goes to something that looked like nothing until cleaned – a small sherd of a Medieval splash glazed gritty ware (12th to 13th Century).

Find Of The Day – Medieval splash glazed gritty ware (12th to 13th Century)


Beast Of The Day is the extravagantly named Dryophilocoris flavoquadrimaculatus.

Beast Of The Day – revels in the epithet Dryophilocoris flavoquadrimaculatus

Please note that even if the weather is misbehaving, as it was today, we will still be working at the dig site. Our wonderful facilities meant we were able start cleaning the finds and assessing the site based on what we have found.

Alex Whitlock