East Coniston Woodland – Report online

View overlooking Coniston Water from the east

View overlooking Coniston Water from the east

The landscape survey report for this small yet important tract of moor and woodland located on the east side of Coniston water is now available online via the OA Library.

In early 2010 we undertook an historic landscape survey for the National Trust on their small parcel of landholdings on the eastern side of Coniston Water, Cumbria for estate management purposes.

Location of the East Coniston survey area

Location of the East Coniston survey area

The study area comprises long-established coppiced woodland that has been providing wood for fuel and as raw materials for a considerable period. The history of the area is closely linked into woodland industries, and in 1339 a grant was awarded to Furness Abbey to enclose woods and make parks, including Lawson Park, Parkamoor and Water or Watside Park, all of which fall within the survey area. To extend the useful life of the woodland, the monks employed the traditional practice of coppicing.

Following the Dissolution of Furness Abbey in 1537, the King’s Commissioners found little timber of any value, and what remained was let by the commissioners to William Sandes and John Sawrey to maintain their three iron smithies. Two definite bloomeries have been identified in the study area and both have been subject to geophysical investigation, revealing significant sub-surface deposits. Neither has been securely dated.

Ruins of a woodsmen’s hut at Grass Paddocks

Ruins of a woodsmen’s hut at Grass Paddocks

In the post-medieval period, the woodland on the steep valley side was sub-divided into enclosed woods, presumably owned by different speculators, farmers and landowners. The woodlands were further sub-divided into coppice hags, to differentiate between blocks of coppiced trees in different stages of a rolling cycle of growth and harvest. Coppice management and associated industrial processes were labour intensive there is evidence for at least five potential woodsmen’s huts where workmen would have lived for an extended period of time.

Old photograph of a charcoal burner's hut

Old photograph of a charcoal burner’s hut

Charcoal burning platforms are the most ubiquitous of the archaeological remains left by charcoal burning. There were 164 examples recorded by the present survey, which were distributed in a densely-packed swathe along the steep wooded enclosures of the valley side. Many platforms were located adjacent to access trackways and/or streams, as water and transport were integral parts of the process. A network of at least 23 sinuous trackways were recorded.

One of the many charcoal burning platforms found in Bailiff Wood

One of the many charcoal burning platforms found in Bailiff Wood

Coniston Lake Charcoal Burners by Alfred Heaton Cooper

Coniston Lake Charcoal Burners by Alfred Heaton Cooper

There is a painting by Alfred Heaton-Cooper of charcoal burners at work c 1908 that is most likely to be of the study area on the western edge of High Barn Woods.

Old photograph of a bark peeler's hut

Old photograph of a bark peeler’s hut

Evidence for the peeling of bark, a primary process in the tanning industry, is moderately well represented throughout the study area, with six surviving examples of bark peelers’ huts. Evidence is limited for potash production, with just three surviving large circular potash kilns located near to the lakeside road.

Low Parkamoor farmhouse

Low Parkamoor farmhouse

It seems that post-Dissolution the Parkamoor farmed landholdings (not The Park) were eventually sub-divided into Low and High Farms in c1614. The extant farmhouses have elements of surviving seventeenth and eighteenth century architectural design. The survey identified two areas of building platforms, one at each of the farmsteads; they may relate to a further domestic sub-division of tenements at each farm in the early eighteenth century.

Foundations of a building near High Parkamoor farmstead

Foundations of a building near High Parkamoor farmstead

Traditional woodland industries declined in the latter half of the nineteenth century, and by 1920 the furnace at Backbarrow had turned to using coke, stifling the last major market for charcoal in the region.

Peel Island on Coniston Water

Peel Island on Coniston Water

The plot locations in the literary fiction of Arthur Ransome found in Swallows and Amazons (1930) revolved around real-life places in the Lake District which he remembered from childhood and as a young man, he had friends who were charcoal burners in the Nibthwaite area. The lake depicted in the book is presumed to be Windermere, but with the surrounding landscape being akin to the Coniston area. Peel Island on Coniston Water formed part of the fictional camp of ‘Wild Cat Island’ in the novel. It is near here that the charcoal burners Old Billy and Young Billy work in the woods located just to the south of Wild Cat Island, in their hut described as a ‘Red Indian wigwam’. In the eleventh book in the series The Picts and the Martyrs (1943) a woodman’s hut called the ‘Dogs Home’ forms the main plot location; the real-life hut/cottage is located to the north of the study area.

Advertisements

Moist mossy exposures

Sunlight and brooding sky

Sunlight and brooding sky

Today brought a long car journey followed by a whistle-stop tour in the morning murk and driving rain around a small parcel of moorland near Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales. Thankfully the cloud lifted in the afternoon leaving a brooding and occasionally bright sky.

Dark day in the Dales

Dark day in the Dales

We were doing landscape survey in advance of a programme of peatland restoration works. The survey entailed looking at peat erosion scars and any drainage gullies for exposed artefacts such as flint flake scatters. This was difficult due to the area being quite waterlogged in places.

Tufty regrowth

Tufty regrowth

We also covered the ground looking for upstanding archaeological monuments to record, which must then be avoided by any vehicles coming onto the moorland to do any later remedial works. In these parts the archaeology is almost entirely associated with lead mining as is seen at the extensive lead mining complex nearby at Grassington.

Lead mining near Grassington, Yorkshire Dales

Lead mining near Grassington, Yorkshire Dales

I am a bit too fond of limestone scenery, especially limestone pavement, but unfortunately the light conditions and my poor photography didn’t do it much justice today!

Eerie limestone pavement

Eerie limestone pavement

I did really like these spooky trees that we found protruding from the limestone pavement as we headed back down into the valley, and I am quite partial to the different ways limestone erodes over time.

Eroded limestone boulder

Eroded limestone boulder

This week exploring Stonyhurst College park and garden

The Observatory Pond, Stonyhurst College

The Observatory Pond, Stonyhurst College

I have just spent a happy, and alternatingly torrentially wet/overcast/sunny few days exploring and recording the delights of the registered park and garden at Stonyhurst College in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire.

Here are a just a fraction of the nice photos of various photogenic sites etc.

Autumnal Colour at Stonyhurst College

Autumnal Colour at Stonyhurst College

Statue of St Mary Magdalene, Stonyhurst College

Statue of St Mary Magdalene, Stonyhurst College

Stonyhurst College Garden and St Peter's RC Church

Stonyhurst College Garden and St Peter’s RC Church

Statue of Regulus in the Observatory Pond, Stonyhurst College

Statue of Regulus in the Observatory Pond, Stonyhurst College

Flight of Garden Steps at Stonyhurst College

Flight of Garden Steps at Stonyhurst College

One of the Garden Pavillion, Stonyhurst College

One of the Garden Pavilion, Stonyhurst College

Front Tower of Stonyhurst College

Front Tower of Stonyhurst College

Stonyhurst College

Stonyhurst College

Approach to Stonyhurst College

Approach to Stonyhurst College

One of the Pair of Fish Ponds, Stonyhurst College

One of the Pair of Fish Ponds, Stonyhurst College

The Mausoleum and Burial Ground near Stonyhurst College

The Mausoleum and Burial Ground near Stonyhurst College

The Burial Ground near Stonyhurst College

The Burial Ground near Stonyhurst College

Overcast in the Yorkshire Dales National Park

Yew Cogar Scar, Arncliffe, Yorkshire Dales

Yew Cogar Scar, Arncliffe, Yorkshire Dales

Kilnsea Crag, Yorkshire Dales

Kilnsea Crag, Yorkshire Dales

Just a couple of photos of an otherwise fruitless day in the Yorkshire Dales.

Community Archaeology Surveys – Windermere Reflections 2013

Volunteers on Windermere Reflections

Volunteers on the Windermere Reflections 2013 surveys

In April and May 2013 we collaborated with the National Trust and the Lake District National Park Authority on a community archaeology project using local volunteers to survey a series of four mining sites and quarries. These were each located in the water catchment area of Windermere Lake in the Lake District.

This post provides an overview of the project but I will add further individual posts in due course describing in detail what was found at each of the mining and quarry sites. Special thanks must go to all of the volunteers who participated on the four survey projects in spite of the unseasonably cold snowy weather.

Surveying using a theodolite with attached disto

Surveying using a theodolite with attached disto

The project was intended to undertake a series of detailed topographic surveys and desk-based analyses of former mines and quarries, while providing support and training for volunteers in areas such as archaeological survey and archive research.

Teaching volunteers how to use a survey grade GPS at Fairfield iron mine, Grasmere

Teaching volunteers how to use a survey grade GPS at Fairfield iron mine, Grasmere

This year topographic survey was undertaken to identify, record, and describe any extant structures and features associated with four mines and quarries within the Windermere lake catchment: Banks Quarry, near Elterwater (NY 3147 0432); Greenhead Gill Mine, Grasmere, (NY 3497 0864); Fairfield Mine, Grasmere (NY 3400 0980); and Providence Mine, Grasmere (NY 3390 1050).

Windermere_location_fig

The Windermere Catchment Mining Sites

The project was financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund and was one of three community archaeology surveys that have been undertaken in the last two years under the banner ‘Reflections on History’ as part of a wider range of conservation and heritage themed projects under the umbrella of ‘Windermere Reflections’ for the Windermere Catchment Restoration Programme. The theme for the 2013 surveys was ‘stone’ so we looked at extractive industries. Last year we undertook two separately themed surveys, the first for ‘wood’ so we surveyed woodland industry sites, and the second for ‘water’ so we looked at water powered fulling mill sites in the catchment.

Windermere Reflections Logo

The surveys were undertaken between the 8th April and 3rd May 2013. Desk-top historical survey of information pertinent to each site, including historical maps, and records held in the Armitt Library and Kendal Record Office took place on the 8th and 10th May 2013.

Banks Quarry is a representative example of slate working sites that are prevalent across the Coniston and Langdale valleys. These are characterised by the outcropping of the Borrowdale Volcanic Series (BVS) rocks that provided the characteristic green slates. The rock was won from open quarries or adits following a narrow seam of good quality rock, and there were many separate quarry and processing areas concentrated in a localised area each working a different part of the same seam. At the entrance to the adits or quarries were a series of riving sheds where the coarse rock was cleaved into thin roof slates. Much of the rock that was quarried, however, was discarded producing considerable spoil which extended over earlier workings.

Volunteers surveying a quarry building at Bank's Quarry, Elterwater

Volunteers surveying a quarry building at Bank’s Quarry, Elterwater

The Greenhead Gill mine complex is one of the most important early lead working sites in Cumbria and is located in a narrow isolated ravine-like valley. It has two separate processing areas about 140m apart on the east side of Greenhead Gill. The documentary and archaeological evidence points to at least two separate phases of exploitation at the mines on Greenhead Gill, the first was the relatively short-lived Elizabethan workings, which were one of several trial workings established around Grasmere. Then in the late-nineteenth century the original workings were reworked and exploratory working was undertaken to the south of the main complex using drilling and powder-blasting technology.

The uppermost of two Elizabethan coffin levels located on Brackenfell, near Grasmere

The uppermost of two Elizabethan coffin levels located on Brackenfell, near Grasmere

Providence and Fairfield iron mines each reflect a brief period of intense mining activity fuelled by high prices for ore, and accords with a number of other operations elsewhere in Cumbria. Being operational for only a few years they demonstrate single phase integrated workings and as such provide an opportunity to examine the workings process of the late nineteenth century.

Volunteers surveying a yard and working floor at Fairfield iron mine, Grasmere

Volunteers surveying a yard and working floor at Fairfield iron mine, Grasmere

Ladybird

Ladybird

Autumnal colours with a ladybird found in the woods near the old bobbin mill, Knowle Green, Lancashire.

St Paul’s Square, Liverpool – Report

St Paul’s Church, by John Harwood, 1831

St Paul’s Church, by John Harwood, 1831

Once every three years or so I am brought down from the moors and mountains and I get to dust off my (t)rusty trowel and am let loose to dig things. This watching brief/excavation, one of many undertaken in the transformation of Liverpool in the last ten or so years,  was almost the last time I have done so.

The report for the project can now be found online via the Oxford Archaeology Library.

In 2001 proposals were submitted to construct five large multi-storey buildings on a former municipal carpark at St Paul’s Square, Liverpool. During the most recent three phases of watching brief in September 2006, March-June 2007 and September-October 2009, it was possible to record, and latterly piece together, a range of features relating to St Paul’s Church, which was built 1763-9 and demolished 1931-2. Although often truncated, the majority of the building’s footprint was exposed, and consisted of a main inner square of load-bearing structural sandstone walls, with stepped porticoes/extensions on all sides, and a circle of plinths in the centre that originally would have supported the octagonal dome.

A really bad aerial shot taken in bright sunlight from the adjacent building that shows some of the foundation walls of St Paul's church.

A really bad aerial shot taken in bright sunlight from the adjacent building that shows some of the foundation walls of St Paul’s church.

The central foundation plinths for taking the pillars that originally supported the dome of the church.

The central foundation plinths for taking the pillars that originally supported the dome of the church.

A subterranean crypt was found in the area of the church’s main, south-west, entrance, and comprised a series of at least 23 two-storey red-brick vaulted bays flanking a central corridor. Although these bays had once been sealed by substantial doors, all those investigated had been emptied of their original contents and backfilled with demolition debris and broken gravestones.

Partially excavated brick burial vaults from beneath the front entrance steps to St Paul's church.

Partially excavated brick burial vaults from beneath the front entrance steps to St Paul’s church.

Development groundworks within the graveyard surrounding the church revealed fragmentary evidence for the yard’s sandstone wall at the south-west end, and also on the eastern corner of the development. Thirteen burial features were encountered in the graveyard, amongst which a possible charnel pit and two graves fell within the limit of impact and were investigated to their bases. One truncated grave contained the partial articulated remains of an adult skeleton, but generally, articulated burials were absent, whilst scattered loose bones were not infrequent. This, coupled with the horizontal truncation suggested by the shallow depth at which the bases of investigated graves were encountered, lends credence to the premise that the graveyard was systematically cleared. Removal of the vast majority of the 12,333 burials recorded in the registers of St Paul’s Church is likely to have taken place during 1894, when the graveyard precinct was acquired under the 1887 Open Spaces Act and landscaped by Liverpool Corporation to create St Paul’s Gardens.

One of the many smashed gravestones that were backfilled into the site during demolition of St Paul's church.

One of the many smashed gravestones that were backfilled into the site during demolition of St Paul’s church.

Considering the limited space within the churchyard, almost all of these must represent the practice of making multiple interments within family graves, and many could have been closely packed pauper’s burials. Indeed, evidence of the wide social and professional spectrum of the church congregation, which ranged from merchants and Aldermen to weavers and labourers, is provided by cross-referencing the church burial registers with some of the c 140 recovered gravestone fragments.

Truncating these earlier features were the fragmentary remains of a series of red-brick external and internal wall foundations, encased H-shaped steel stanchions, and areas of flooring. These corresponded with the south-western and north-eastern ends of the rectangular Liverpool Stadium that was constructed in 1932, directly over, and to the same alignment, as the then recently demolished church.

Plan of features exposed at St Paul's Square, Liverpool

Plan of features exposed at St Paul’s Square, Liverpool

Long Meg and Her Daughters Stone Circle, Cumbria – Part Two

Long Meg and Her Daughters - 3D view of Long Meg

Long Meg and Her Daughters – 3D view of Long Meg

This post is concerned with the photogrammetric survey strand of survey that we undertook (see first post) as part of the Altogether Archaeology project at Long Meg and Her Daughters stone circle near Penrith, in the Eden Valley, Cumbria.

In this instance we undertook to photograph 33 of the 69 individual stones consisting the stone circle, and including the Long Meg monolith itself. This process was undertaken by the Altogether Archaeology volunteers who photographed each individual stone from the ground, and by taking shots from above using a photographic mast. The intention was to take photographs from all around the stones so as to provide complete overlapping coverage of each individual stone. The background detail needed to be removed from each photograph and this was achieved both by masking it out on the computer and by having a white background held behind the individual stones during photography.

Long Meg and Her Daughters - photographic recording in action

Long Meg and Her Daughters – photographic recording in action

Altogether Archaeology volunteers were instrumental in going through the various processes using Agisoft Photoscan Pro software to produce nine 3D models of individual stones from the circle. The software combined the photographs, computed the positions that the images were taken from, generated a 3D mesh, and then the photographs were reapplied to the 3D mesh as a texture.  Each individual photograph needed to be prepared, and this entailed masking out of any background detail still left in the photographs, and then the application of survey control. The end product was a series of 3D models that can be viewed as 2D plans or within Adobe Acrobat as 3D pdf files.

Long Meg and Her Daughters - 3D stone

Long Meg and Her Daughters – 3D stone with control points

The photographs of the Long Meg red sandstone monolith came out particularly well as the bright sunlight slanted across the face of the stone containing the rock art motifs and gave sharp definition to the rock strata and any depressions in the surface.

Long Meg and Her Daughters - rock art motifs

Long Meg and Her Daughters – rock art motifs

Again many thanks must go to all of the Altogether Archaeology volunteers who braved the weather to take the photography on site, and to those luckier souls who were based in the nearby village hall processing the data.

Long Meg and Her Daughters Stone Circle, Cumbria – Part One

Long Meg and Her Daughters - Plan View

Long Meg and Her Daughters – 2D Plan View

Earlier in the year we were commissioned by Paul Frodsham of the North Pennines AONB under the guise of the Heritage Lottery funded Altogether Archaeology project to undertake two types of photogrammetric survey at Long Meg and Her Daughters stone circle located in the Eden Valley, near Penrith, Cumbria. This was part of a wider community project to develop an understanding of this exceptionally important monument and provide detailed surveys and geophysical investigation of the monument.

The work was undertaken in March 2013 and this post is concerned with the first part of our input into the investigation, which was producing a detailed aerial photographic plan of the site using a quadcopter UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle).

Setting up the Quadcopter

Setting up the Quadcopter

This method uses aerial photographs taken from a small electrically powered model helicopter (UAV) which has the ability to carry a light weight camera and has the advantage that it can take photographs from much lower altitudes than can legally be achieved with a light aircraft. Survey control was introduced to the photographs by the placement of survey control targets across the site which were located by means of a survey grade GPS.The photogrammetric processing was undertaken using Agisoft software that provides detailed modelling using the overlap of up to 150 photographs, and creates a very detailed DTM (Digital Terrain Model) across the site. The photographs were then digitally draped over the model to create an accurate 3D model of the ground surface.

Long Meg and Her Daughters - Solid 3D oblique view

Long Meg and Her Daughters – Solid 3D oblique view

The primary output, however, was an accurate flat two dimensional image which can be used to generate accurate plans of surface archaeological features and contours across the extent of the site (at the top of the post). However, the 3D model can also be output as a tool to visualise the site from any perspective and can be viewed in more recent versions of Adobe Acrobat as a 3D pdf file.

Long Meg and Her Daughters - 3D Oblique View

Long Meg and Her Daughters – 3D Oblique View

Many thanks should go to all of the Altogether Archaeology volunteers who turned up in the cold weather to work on site during the project.