The drawings depicting the prehistoric stone row and pit alignment that we surveyed at the beginning of the month have now been completed! Profuse thanks must again go to all of the Altogether Archaeology volunteers who gave up their weekend to come out and be part of the survey.
The report for Hest Bank Jetty is now available online through the Oxford Archaeology Library.
OA North undertook a topographic survey of Hest Bank Jetty, Lancashire in March 2009. The jetty was exposed during 2004 when changes in direction of the river channels in Morecambe Bay eroded the sands covering the structure. The program of survey consisted of a detailed topographic plan of the jetty and the semi-rectified photographic recording of the principal wall elevations.
My personal highlights of the project included dodging the tides, scraping seaweed off of the masonry, waiting for trains at the level crossing and devouring chips from the nearby chip shop.
The jetty was an integral part of the Hest Bank Canal Company’s scheme to provide passenger traffic and cargo reshipment using Hest Bank as a nodal point at the junction of the canal, the sea and road network in the north-west. The jetty was constructed as a breakwater in 1820 to enable small coasting vessels from Liverpool and Glasgow to discharge their cargoes at Hest Bank, from where they could be transported north and south by canal. The short-lived enterprise exploited the trade with Liverpool mainly between c1819 and 1831.
By 1848 the jetty was being encroached upon by the sands, but there was a secondary use of the structure in the late 1860s-1870s when a target was set up on the northern end of the jetty for militia weapons practice. It is unknown when the structure was finally enveloped by the sands but there is no further evidence that any part of the jetty was exposed above the sands prior to 2004.
The survey revealed that the main structure of the jetty was retained by a sandstone wall on the northern end, equating to the ‘breakwater’ shown on Hennet’s map of Lancashire (1830), and was linked to the shore by a cobble-surfaced causeway. The construction of the jetty is a mixture of layers of large packed cobbles and smaller packed cobbles. There is also evidence that the sloping seaward side of the jetty originally had a well-packed cobble surface to dissipate wave action. Erosion by storms, tides, and stone scavenging have damaged the upper surfaces of the jetty, displaced some of the sandstone wall and parapet, and removed much of the cobbled surfaces.
The report for the Force Garth Pasture survey project is now available online through the Archaeology Data Service.
In December 2011 we undertook archaeological survey and analytical study of the settlement remains at Force Garth Pasture, on behalf of the tenants of East Force Garth Farm in Upper Teesdale, County Durham. Over half of the survey area is a Scheduled Monument (SM 33490), consisting of a palimpsest of extant multi-period archaeological settlement features, field systems, and industrial remains. The area is also of exceptional ecological interest, including areas of both species-rich hay meadow and wood pasture and, consequently, forms part of the Moorhouse – Upper Teesdale National Nature Reserve.
Within the study area are two sites, Force Garth North and Force Garth South, which were excavated in the 1970s by Denis Coggins and Ken Fairless. The field systems surrounding the settlements were identified at the same time but were only subject to sketched survey rather than a detailed metric survey. Evidence for metalworking was identified during the excavations of both enclosed settlements, and was part of more widespread evidence for industrial extraction and working of iron resources in the Upper Teesdale valley.
A decade of clambering through the hills has equipped me with a distinct end of day post-surveying thirst. Through much personal trial and error the best après ramble beverages known to man are thus:
- Summer surveying = A pint consisting of one Britvic orange and one pineapple juice topped up with lemonade, closely followed by a pint of the hand-pulled ale of your choice.
- Winter surveying = A pint of Guinness.
- What not to drink = A Brandy Alexander.
OA North has been involved with eight seasons of survey since 2002 for the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) on their Uplands Initiative Project. This aims to systematically survey all the mountainous areas of Wales and to record archaeological sites on these areas in order to enhance the National Monuments Record of Wales.
In total I have worked on sixteen project areas in North Wales over the years. In bald statistics my weary legs have trudged along for 338.01 sq km and we have investigated and recorded 4229 archaeological sites.
Over the coming weeks/months I will upload summaries of each project, describe any really nice sites, and mention any ‘hilarious/unfortunate’ occurrences on them.
Brief descriptions and photographs of EVERY site investigated can be found on the Coflein website – the online database for the National Monuments Record of Wales (NMRW).
A training weekend was undertaken on the first weekend in September supervised by myself and Gemma Stewart, the Northumberland National Park Community Archaeologist, to survey a stone row alignment located on the open moorland at Standingstone Rigg, near Simonburn, Northumberland.
The project was funded through Northumberland National Park to enable volunteers to undertake practical archaeological projects within the National Park. The aim of the project was to provide appropriate professional supervision and training in order to build the capacity of local groups to actively research little studied or poorly understood elements of the archaeology of the National Park.
The survey falls under the wider umbrella of the Heritage Lottery Funded Altogether Archaeology Project, a multi-period community archaeology project being undertaken to record archaeological sites in the North Pennines AONB and beyond.
The field survey aimed to build upon preliminary survey work carried out in 2012 by Phil and Anne Bowyer, and train volunteers in various survey techniques to create a series of detailed plans of key features associated with the stone row.
The stone row was surveyed using a combination of a theodolite and disto technology to create a manual measured plan of the stones and a differential GPS to record surrounding structures and archaeological features. All upstanding and recumbent stones from the row were measured, described and photographed.
Preliminary results of the survey revealed a slightly sinuous NNE/SSW double alignment of both upstanding and recumbent stones that ran upslope over the crest of a ridgeline and down the other side, adjacent to one, or possibly two funerary cairns on the crest of the ridge. The stones have packing stones surrounding them and in the centre of the alignment it is often just the packing stones that survive as the standing stones have been removed for building a nearby sheepfold. The size of the stones does seem to follow the broad pattern of larger examples nearer the crest of the ridge in the north end of the alignment, and it is clear that the sandstone bedrock has been hewn and cleaved up along natural bedding planes often immediately adjacent to where the stones now stand.
The southern end of the stone row continues as an alignment of ten pits surviving as part-filled sunken features before it probably disappears into a boggy area to the south. The double stone row is a prehistoric monument usually dating from the later Neolithic or Bronze Age, and this example is a very rare, if not unique surviving example from Northumberland. In the British Isles sinuous double stone rows which meander across open moorland countryside are more typically associated with the Dartmoor area.
These types of monuments are often found in association with other features such as funerary cairns, which is also possibly the case at our example, but so far I have not been able to identify any other stone rows associated with an extant pit alignment.
When the bad weather abated the week after the survey weekend, my manager Jamie Quartermaine returned to site with Gemma and Phil to survey it using his Hexacopter. This is a small remote-controlled helicopter that can be used (in light winds) to take aerial photography of archaeological sites. The data was processed in Agisoft software to create both a composite photograph of the stone row and a 3D model of the site.
Hopefully when the final results of the project are published the weekend training exercise will have added significantly to our knowledge of the prehistory of Northumberland National Park, and it will have given local volunteers practical skills for recording further monuments in this landscape in the hinterland north of Hadrian’s Wall.
Particular thanks are due to Gemma Stewart for making the project possible, Phil and Anne Bowyer who have been doing so much background work to understand the archaeology of the surrounding landscape (forthcoming Ravensheugh Crags blog post), and the volunteers from Altogether Archaeology and members of Tynedale Archaeology Group who braved the inclement weather. Thanks are also due to the tenant farmer at Great Lonbrough farm and the Nunwick Estates. A special mention should also be given to Stan Beckensall who braved the rain on the Sunday to help survey the stones.
It’s a tough life for my boots! Plus don’t leave them wet in a bag for months or they sprout vegetation.