Allan Bank, Grasmere – Garden Survey Report

The house at Allan Bank, Grasmere, under renovation in January 2012

The house at Allan Bank, Grasmere, under renovation in January 2012

The historic garden survey report we completed in 2012 for Allan Bank, a National Trust property (and brief residence of William Wordsworth) located at Grasmere, Cumbria is now available online via the OA Library. This project recorded all the archaeological and historical features within the c 4.6 hectare gardens on the property in order to inform the future management of the estate. The work was completed in advance of remedial works to be undertaken before the gardens were opened to the public.

Allan Bank, Grasmere in 1861

Allan Bank, Grasmere in 1861

Deeds record the sale of the land at Allan Bank located above the head of Grasmere by a Mr Sawyer to a Mr Edward Partridge in 1756. In 1804 Mr Partridge, or his descendants, sold the property to John Gregory Crump, an attorney and merchant of Liverpool. Subsequently, a villa was built at Allan Bank between 1805-8 in a simple Classical style, and was positioned on the southern flank of a rocky shoulder dividing Easedale from the main Vale of Grasmere. The house was raised artificially to create the depth for cellars and it was orientated so that the main south front looked straight down the length of Grasmere. A few years later William Wordsworth and his family moved there as soon as it was completed as it’s first occupants between May 1808 and May 1811; and their literary friends Thomas de Quincey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge stayed with them for lengthy visits.  He did not like living there, but needed to move to more ample accommodation than their previous dwelling at Dove Cottage. Their occupation of the property was short-lived, in part, due to complaints about smoky chimneys.

Stone tunnel at Allan Bank, Grasmere

Stone tunnel at Allan Bank, Grasmere

Stone viewing seat at Allan Bank, Grasmere

Stone viewing seat at Allan Bank, Grasmere

The extant remains comprise three separate garden areas: a large wilderness garden; a walled kitchen garden; and formal gardens adjacent to the house. The survey identified, and recorded, a total of 109 archaeological features and/or garden components.  Elements in the wilderness garden consist of a series of sinuous pathways with rustic flights of steps constructed of stone slabs. There are four/five garden seats located at strategic spots within the garden which variously had panoramic views looking north-west onto Helm Crag, south-east to Grasmere lake and east towards the house, although many of these vistas are now obscured with mature trees. Water was managed in the garden, with a reservoir that probably served the house and an underground pipe followed the footpath towards the house and ran through an elaborate stone-vaulted tunnel. Streams have been canalised and one stream passes over a craggy waterfall and has a small pool beneath. There is also a small well within rustic stone retaining walls. Features pre-dating the construction of the wilderness garden include charcoal burning platforms and two sections of relict boundary walls.

Plan of Allan Bank gardens, Grasmere – south

Plan of Allan Bank gardens, Grasmere – south

The kitchen garden has a large slate-topped unheated fruit wall on the northern side, which would have masked the garden from the house. The garden was laid out into quarters by slate-edged pathways and in the centre are the remains of a stone circular structure that may have functioned as a formal focal platform. There is a slate-roofed garden shed, a ruined twentieth century greenhouse, water troughs, a compost heap and a French drain that drained water away from the waterfall in the wilderness garden.

Plan of Allan Bank gardens, Grasmere - house area

Plan of Allan Bank gardens, Grasmere – house area

The formal pleasure gardens form a discrete area running around the house and extend to the kitchen garden; its elements consist of driveways, a dwarf-kitchen garden terrace, containing rectangular flowerbeds, and a sundial. The west, south and east sides of the house have stone-lined flowerbeds and stone-hewn flower boxes. On the west side of the house is a small garden lawn with relict beds/pathways evident. It is enclosed on the west side by a sinuous retaining wall constructed of cyclopean boulders and there is a large rockery constructed of quartz stones. Land to the south of the garden has been landscaped/terraced but its function is unclear. The formal gardens are skirted on the west side by a curvilinear gravelled trackway that runs towards the kitchen garden.

Rock art panel at Allan Bank, Grasmere

Rock art panel at Allan Bank, Grasmere

To the east of the house is a gravelled drive adjacent to the main house entrance, grass-covered tennis courts and a stone outcrop with rock art motifs. On the north side of the house there are the remains of two external buildings, an elaborately decorated chapel or billiard room and the ruins of a small garage or coach house.

Eden House, a cairnfield on the North York Moors near Whitby

Aerial view of the cairnfield and linear boundary at Eden House

Aerial view of the cairnfield and linear boundary at Eden House

This time last year we battled through the snow and ice on our journey over to survey a small cairnfield located on the North York Moors near Whitby. The report for this particular project has just been posted online to the OA Library and you can download it here. Did it really snow so late last year? I just can’t contemplate anything other than rain rain rain at the moment, but luckily (and selfishly) I’m still indoors writing up reports.

View of Eden House and the rough grazing behind it that contains the cairnfield

View of Eden House and the rough grazing behind it that contains the cairnfield

We undertook at topographic survey to record all of the surviving earthworks located on a small plot of rough pasture by the farmstead of Eden House, which is near the village of Hutton Mulgrave, on what was once part of Barnby Moor. The 4.66 hectare area of the cairnfield is statutorily protected as a Scheduled Monument, and as part of an ongoing management plan for it further detailed recording was needed. You can find a description of the monument here.

Eden House cairnfield - topographic survey

Eden House cairnfield – topographic survey

Eden House cairnfield - georectified aerial photography

Eden House cairnfield – georectified aerial photography

The survey was completed using a combination of photogrammetry and GPS survey. The photogrammetry was undertaken using photographs taken from a small UAV helicopter that were used to generate a metrically accurate model of the surface of the study area, including all surface features that were not obscured by vegetation. Some features were obscured, and so in addition a ground topographic survey was undertaken to record the more subtle features by GPS survey.

The survey presents a thorough record of all the archaeological structures and components identified in the form of a detailed measured plan, profiles across the putative deer park boundary, digital photography and an outline site gazetteer.

Surveying the hillforts of the Inner Tay estuary, Perth and Kinross

Law_Hill_Figure

The archaeological reports produced for each of the six surveyed hillforts around Perth have been uploaded online to the OA Library, and they can be downloaded here.

The detailed topographic surveys present a thorough record of all the archaeological structures and components identified on each of the hillfort sites in the form of a series of detailed and annotated measured plans.  Surveys were undertaken at Castle Law, Abernethy;  Moncreiffe Hill;  Moredun Top, Moncreiffe;  Grassy Law, Deuchny Wood;  Law Hill, Arnbathie  and Pole Hill, Evelick. In the case of the hillfort at Abernethy the survey also recorded the outlines of previous antiquarian excavations on the site.

The hillforts are late-prehistoric/early-historic defended sites of significant archaeological importance, both in terms of buried archaeological deposits and as monuments within the wider landscape. Significant elements at the core of all six hillforts surveyed during the present phase of the project are statutorily protected as Scheduled Monuments of national importance.

Hillforts_Surveyed_Perth_Kinross

St Catherine’s Estate at Windermere – Landscape Survey Report

Watercolour view of the house and formal garden at St Catherine's Estate, c1900

Watercolour view of the house and formal garden at St Catherine’s Estate, c1900

The historic landscape survey report we completed way back in 2005 for St Catherine’s Estate, a National Trust property on Windermere, Cumbria is now available online via the OA Library. This project recorded the archaeological and historical features within the 0.32sq km of the property, a mixture of pasture, woodland and parkland, in order to inform the future management of the estate. The project was funded by the Local Heritage Initiative and from the outset it incorporated the involvement of members of the local community who were trained in documentary and survey techniques. In 2006 an eco-friendly straw bale building was built on the estate. The Footprint, is now used for educational visits.

The location of St Catherine's Estate near Windermere

The location of St Catherine’s Estate near Windermere

The project entailed documentary study, identification, boundary and tree surveys, as well as a detailed survey of the formal gardens.

Training a volunteer in the dark arts of GPS survey

Training a volunteer in the dark arts of GPS survey

Prior to the establishment of the formal landscape the area was exploited for agriculture and was divided into two separate lots known as High and Low Gate Mill How.  A cottage once existed at High Gate Mill How, presumably on the site of the later mansion. The agricultural management within the study area was typified by the relatively static enclosed fields with drystone walled boundaries. The survey also identified a number of agricultural features within the original extent of the parkland estate, which predate the park; these included clearance cairns and drains. Similarly, woodland management was a crucial part of the historic land use; at least ten charcoal burning platforms were recorded within the two areas of woodland examined. The woods were divided up into compartments of coppice at different stages of growth and the remains of the compartment boundaries still survive.

Charcoal burning platform in High Hag Wood, St Catherine's Estate

Charcoal burning platform in High Hag Wood, St Catherine’s Estate

Coppice boundary foundations in High Hag Wood, St Catherine's Estate

Coppice boundary foundations in High Hag Wood, St Catherine’s Estate

The estate was bought by the Parker family in 1788 and by 1804 it was in the sole ownership of Ann Parker. Around 1810 a Swiss Cottage Orneé was erected on the site. This took place concurrent with work to establish gardens and the development of a parkland landscape fronting onto the road running along the west side of the estate. In 1831 the estate was sold to the Second Earl of Bradford, and it was used as an occasional holiday residence for the Earl and his wife, whose main seat was Weston Park in Staffordshire. By 1856-1857 work was completed on many of the designed elements of the estate, including the house, kitchen block, stable block, formal garden, wilderness garden, walled garden and parkland, but there were still also areas of woodland and farmland within the estate. However, by the mid 1860s Low and High Hag Woods had been developed into an extension of the pleasure grounds, and incorporated formal paths and arbors.

Watercolour view of the St Catherine' cottage overlooking Lake Windermere, c1850s

Watercolour view of the St Catherine’ cottage overlooking Lake Windermere, c1850s

The Second Earl of Bradford died in 1865 and between the late 1860s and 1890s the house remained a summer holiday residence for the third Earl of Bradford. Then in 1895 the Cottage Orneé was extensively enlarged and another storey was added; the central kitchen range and the stable block were also expanded. A map of 1898 showed that by this date a summer house had been added to the Gatelands field, adjacent to the Wilderness garden, and the carriageways were extended into the northern part of the park.

Late nineteenth century photograph of the house and formal garden, St Catherine's Estate

Late nineteenth century photograph of the extended house and formal
garden, St Catherine’s Estate

The Third Earl of Bradford died in 1898 and the estate passed on to his daughter, Lady Mabel Kenyon-Slaney, who used the property as an occasional residence until at least 1905. By 1899 much of the estate had been sold off, and the remainder was thereafter in a state of decline; significantly, there were very few changes to the estate between 1899 and 1914. The property remained in the ownership of the family until 1914 although it appears that the house was let and was no longer visited by the family.

Plan of St Catherine's Estate - 1899

Plan of St Catherine’s Estate – 1899

On the 29th September 1914 Lady Mabel Kenyon-Slaney sold part of the main St Catherine’s Estate to John Robinson, which included St Catherine’s house, Low Hagg Wood, Rawes Green, High Haggs, Browhead Spring, as well as the Cottage and buildings at the Crosses. The Robinson Family soon after constructed a house called ‘The Hoo’ just to the south of the estate. John and Ellen Robinson and their two daughters Marjorie and Jessica lived at ‘The Hoo’ and the empty house at St Catherine’s was alternatively used as a studio or rented out in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1925 Ellen Robinson was widowed and in the same year Jessica married Edwin Ferreira. The main house and kitchen range were demolished on the orders of Ellen Robinson at some point between 1928 and 1935. Mrs Robinson feared that the empty house would be used by tramps and had it demolished whilst the rest of the family were on holiday wintering in France.

The surviving stable range at St Catherine's Estate

The surviving stable range at St Catherine’s Estate

In 1952 Jessica Ferreira inherited the estate upon the death of her mother and in 1954 Jessica and Edwin Ferreira moved to St Catherine’s and lived above the stables, and by 1955 a bungalow was built on Gatelands field. The Ferreiras had a son, Christopher, who remembers hay making in the parkland in the 1950s, and at this time Jessica Ferreira owned a small herd of Jersey cows which were housed in the stables. By 1987 after the death of the widowed Jessica Ferreira the remainder of the estate was entrusted into the hands of the National Trust.

The survey identified the nature and extent of many formal features from the nineteenth century estate, including the nature and extent of the formal carriageways within the parkland and, more importantly, the surviving elements of the formal pathways within the woodland. Other important formal elements were recorded such as the foundations of the summer house in Gatelands Field, formal planting and an arbor in High Hag Wood, and a putative formal planting area and possible sunken glade, in Low Hag Wood.

A volunteer measuring a rabbit smoot

A volunteer measuring a rabbit smoot

The garden survey revealed surviving fragments of the formal layout of the separate gardens and buildings which were the focal point of the St Catherine’s Estate. Very little survives of the original plantings within the gardens apart from several veteran non-native trees on the north end of the formal garden; a terraced flattened area within the wilderness garden which may have had decorative function and, possibly, the rockery on the east side of the coach house.

The detailed garden survey undertaken at St Catherine's Estate

The detailed garden survey undertaken at St Catherine’s Estate

In the wilderness garden formal pathways and garden furniture include a flight of steps and four crossing points over Wynlass beck. The course of the beck has been modified and it runs over a small waterfall, which would have been overlooked from two of the bridge crossings. Structural elements associated with the upkeep of gardens are limited to the foundations of a greenhouse within the walled vegetable garden and the putative potting/tool shed on the edge of the formal garden.

Late nineteenth century photograph of Wynlass Beck running through the wilderness garden

Late nineteenth century photograph of Wynlass Beck running through the wilderness garden

Exploring the Wery Wall and Roman bath house in Lancaster

General view looking east of the Wery Wall bastion and bath house

General view looking east of the Wery Wall bastion and bath house

The report produced for our assessment of the Wery Wall and Roman Bath House on Castle Hill, Lancaster is now available online. This understated and easily overlooked site is well worth a quick look around if you ever visit Lancaster. Back in the winter of 2010/11 we undertook a survey of the Wery Wall, a fragment of the late Roman coastal fort wall, and the adjacent Roman bath house remains located on Castle Hill. I seem to remember the weather being bitterly cold and snow lay on the ground for some of the time.  Festive cheer was also severely lacking at the time!

The surviving fabric on the west side of the Wery Wall bastion

The surviving fabric on the west side of the Wery Wall bastion

The Wery Wall is a surviving fragment of the late Roman coastal fort wall located on the eastern scarp of Castle Hill at the north-east corner of the Vicarage Fields, and is immediately adjacent to an earlier Roman bath house relating to an earlier fort, which it now partly overlies. The surviving remains of the Wery Wall are thought to represent the core of a polygonal external bastion on the north wall of the defences. Only the inner rubble core of the wall survives, its facing having been robbed for re-use in other buildings at some time before the early eighteenth century.

The 1970s excavations in the bath house caldarium (Lancaster Museum)

The 1970s excavations in the bath house caldarium (Lancaster Museum)

The wall and bath house were excavated in the 1950s and 1970s and the currently exposed archaeological features include at least three episodes of construction. Firstly there are walls associated with a courtyard building, secondly a bath house inserted into the courtyard building and, thirdly the surviving remnants of the Wery Wall bastion.

Detailed survey of the Wery Wall and Roman Bath House, Castle Hill, Lancaster

Detailed survey of the Wery Wall and Roman Bath House, Castle Hill, Lancaster

View looking west of the bath house caldarium and Wery Wall external ditch

View looking west of the bath house caldarium and Wery Wall external ditch

Surviving elements on site consist of extant walls on the north and west side of the caldarium, as well as one inserted through the tepidarium, are all associated with bath house inserted into the earliest courtyard building. These structures consist of the complete extents of the Caldarium and Tepidarium rooms and the partial survival of an annex room, the Praefurnium, on the south-west side.

View looking east of the bath house caldarium, Wery Wall bastion and external ditch

View looking east of the bath house caldarium, Wery Wall bastion and external ditch

The stump of bastion masonry called the Wery Wall, is the only visible evidence of the late Roman coastal fort, along with its external ditch which would have once surrounded the fort.  It was interpreted as being the inner core of a multi-angular bastion, being either a corner or interval tower set along the length of a thinner curtain wall. The external ditch was excavated and preserved where it had cut through either side of the caldarium room in the bath house.

The Wery Wall and bath house were subject to a robust scheme of consolidation works (and in some cases rebuilding) in the 1970s in order to improve their stability and to allow them to be left permanently exposed. The site has degenerated to a degree and is now in need of a phase of remedial repair works to stabilise the monuments and enable them to be subject to only minimal maintenance in the future.

Location of the Wery Wall and bath house in relation to previous excavations on Vicarage Field, Castle Hill, Lancaster

Location of the Wery Wall and bath house in relation to previous excavations on Vicarage Field, Castle Hill, Lancaster

Windermere Reflections Community Archaeology 2012 – Fulling mills survey report online

Montage of volunteers surveying on the Windermere Reflections project 2012

Montage of volunteers surveying on the Windermere Reflections Project in 2012

As part of the 2012 season of community archaeology survey for the Windermere Reflections project, the Fulling mills survey report is now available online at the OA Library.

Just to recap I have already posted on the fieldwork for this season of the project in 2013. As part of the 2012 field season 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 five fulling mill sites. These were each located in the water catchment area of Windermere Lake in the Lake District. The project was intended to undertake a series of detailed topographic surveys and desk-based analyses of the potential ruinous fulling mills sites while providing support and training for volunteers in areas such as archaeological survey and archive research.

Volunteers doing both plane table and theodolite surveying at Sourmilk Gill, Easedale

Volunteers doing both plane table and theodolite surveying at Sourmilk Gill, Easedale

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.

Windermere Reflections Logo

Topographic survey was undertaken between the 9th April and 5th May 2012 to identify, record, and describe any extant structures and features associated with the possible fulling mills. 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 9th and 10th May 2012.

Drawing of a fulling mill taken from Theatrum Machinarum Novum (1661)

Drawing of a fulling mill taken from Theatrum Machinarum Novum (1661)

Fulling describes the process of cleaning and de-greasing woollen cloth, either with potash, dung and urine or fuller’s earth, and the pounding of the cloth to compact the fibres of the fabric. The pounding of the roughly woven woollen cloth was undertaken using large wooden hammers (known as stocks) which were lifted by cams on an axle turned by a water wheel. The stocks would act upon the cloth within a large fulling trough which also contained water and fuller’s earth. After fulling, the cloth would be washed, stretched and dried.

Location map of the five fulling mill sites investigated in 2012

Location map of the five fulling mill sites investigated in 2012

Four of the five sites examined by the survey are located within the northern part of the catchment, near the villages of Grasmere and Langdale, an area documented as important for fulling and weaving. The condition of the mills was variable, with one at Sourmilk Gill being an exceptional survival and representing an archetypal medieval fulling mill, whereas at Loughrigg Terrace, for example, there is reasonable survival of the water system but the mill remains are open to interpretation. Two of the mills, that at Sourmilk Gill and Stickle Ghyll, were originally stone founded structures, associated with well-defined water supply systems, comprising head race, wheel pit and tail race, and, at Sourmilk Gill, a launder platform also. Both mill structures were potentially reused and their operational life is uncertain.

Detailed topographic survey drawing of the Sourmilk Gill fulling mill

Detailed topographic survey drawing of the Sourmilk Gill fulling mill

At Loughrigg Terrace, the putative mill platform is only 4.5m by 2.6m in size and it is possible to conjecture that the stocks and trough would not have been contained within a building, although a simple timber structure could have been erected over the working components. There would, in any case, have only been room for a single stock hammer and trough.

Foundation remains of the fulling mill and race at Sourmilk Gill, Easedale

Foundation remains of the fulling mill and race at Sourmilk Gill, Easedale

The head and tail races were the most diagnostic features of all the mills, and often provided the most definitive evidence for a mill, notably at Loughrigg Terrace. The relatively limited water supply for many of these water wheels indicates that the supply would have been taken over the top of an overshot wheel (as opposed to an undershot wheel which required a large flow of water) using a wooden launder. These rarely survive; but a large stone platform for a launder survives at Sourmilk Gill.

Surveying the mill pond in Low Wood, Elterwater

Surveying the mill pond in Low Wood, Elterwater

At three of the mill sites (Sourmilk Gill, Low Wood and Little Ore Gate) a series of ponds survived, which drew water from a divert channel, although their function as part of the fulling process were potentially varied.

The process of fulling was bound into a broadly agricultural economy of mixed farming, including the rearing of sheep and shearing, as well as weaving and potash manufacture. Spatially associated with a number of the mills were stock pounds, arable farming remains and potash kilns, which reinforce the historical evidence that indicates that fulling was undertaken on a part-time basis alongside a large range of agricultural activities and was seasonal following on from the annual wool shear typically in mid-summer.

Gazebo malfunction at Loughrigg Terrace, by the side of Grasmere Tarn

Gazebo malfunction at Loughrigg Terrace, by the side of Grasmere Tarn

Special thanks must go to all of the volunteers who participated on the five survey projects, especially for their fortitude in ofter trying weather conditions.

Bangarth and Blea Tarn iron mines, Eskdale – report online

Inside of the open drainage adit at the foot of Blea Tarn Mine

Inside of the open drainage adit at the foot of Blea Tarn Mine

The report for the Bangarth and Blea Tarn iron mines survey is now available online via the OA Library. OA North was invited by the National Trust to undertake a detailed topographic survey of two iron mines at Bangarth and Blea Tarn, in Eskdale, Lake District (NY 1538 0081 and NY 1676 0061: approximate centre). The survey was undertaken in March and November 2012.

Eskdale Iron Mines, 2012 Survey Locations

Eskdale Iron Mines, 2012 Survey Locations

The Eskdale mines comprise seven mines, or mine groupings, that were worked during the late nineteenth century and include Blea Tarn and Bangarth mines. A lease on the areas covering Bangarth and Nab Gill mines was taken by S and J Lindow in September 1845 and they initially focused on establishing levels at Nab Gill. Prior to 1854, however, they had putatively focused their workforce on ‘opencast’ extraction at Bangarth, which did not prove to be particularly successful and in c 1856 they withdrew from these operations. A subsequent attempt to mine Bangarth was made by Joseph Fearon in 1860, which was abandoned in the late 1860s.

The area between Nab Gill and Bangarth was leased by Faithful Cookson in the 1860s, who sub-let it to Whitehaven Iron Mines Ltd in 1871. This company established an additional level below the earlier Bangarth workings, and worked on four levels at the site, and began work at Blea Tarn mine, where they established seven. However, the vein narrowed as the works penetrated into the hillside and the company abandoned Bangarth in 1874 and the main focus of work was then directed onto the Nab Gill mine, which became the most successful of the operations in the area.

Peat storage hut, near Bangarth Mine, Eskdale

Peat storage hut, near Bangarth Mine, Eskdale

The present survey has identified a complex archaeological resource at both Bangarth and Blea Tarn ironstone mines. Both mines are predated by elements associated with zigzagging trackways giving access onto the common for both stock grazing and peat cutting. Sites found adjacent to these trackways include small stone quarries, peat huts, sheepfolds and shelters. The area of Bangarth mine contains extensive evidence for cairnfields/field-systems of both earth and stone construction and stone-walled boundaries. Their considerable complexity, with areas of large consumption banks, interspersed with clearance cairns and probable later narrow ridge and furrow cultivation, point to multi-period use comprising at least small-scale cultivation and occupation on the now open common. There is evidence of two putative medieval shielings and a probably later demolished farmstead, as well as a platformed stock enclosure.

Part of the detailed topographic survey of Bangarth Mine, Eskdale

Part of the detailed topographic survey of Bangarth Mine, Eskdale

The simplest distribution of mining features is that at Blea Tarn mine, which reflects that there was a single phase of development from 1871 which proved unsuccessful in finding extensive ore deposits. Elements of mine adits, trials and open cutting were evident on at least five levels, including a large drainage adit at the base of the mine.

The mining features at Bangarth mine are more complex reflecting initial stoped working of a sizeable lode at the mine from the mid-1840s through sporadic activity to the late 1860s and renewed exploration from 1871. Evidently, the extent of viable ore was such that it was deemed profitable to revisit the mine for further exploitation and, unlike at Blea Tarn mine, as is evident by the extensive spoil heaps and an inclined plane constructed for transport to the Ravenglass and Eskdale railway. On the upper part of the site the putative early stoping at the top of the mine has been worked and reworked as the large opencast pit has directly cut through the earlier workings; a series of truncated adit mouths, trials and spoil heaps indicate the earlier extraction operations.

Opencast pit at the summit of Bangarth Mine, Eskdale

Opencast pit at the summit of Bangarth Mine, Eskdale

On the open common the mine was evidently worked on a further two levels where there are extant features associated with two open cuttings: a trial mine and an adit. Immediately downslope, below the modern enclosure wall, is another level of working consisting of a large platformed working floor with three adit mouths and the top of the inclined plane.

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.

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

Hest Bank Jetty, Morecambe Bay, Lancashire – Report Online

Surveying Hest Bank Jetty

Surveying Hest Bank Jetty

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.

Topographic survey of Hest Bank Jetty

Topographic survey of Hest Bank Jetty

Jetty shown in 2006 ©Lancashire County Council

Jetty shown exposed in 2006 ©Lancashire County Council

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.

Northern end of Hest Bank Jetty

Northern end of Hest Bank Jetty

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 jetty shown as a 'Breakwater' in 1830

The jetty shown as a ‘Breakwater’ in 1830

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.

Rectified wall elevation of the jetty

Rectified wall elevation of the jetty