Just looking through some recent snaps of places visited. Might post a few.
As part of my work at Oxford Archaeology North I’ve recently been practicing (under supervision) flying and surveying with our UAV drones at various archaeological sites in the region. This is in advance of qualifying for a BNUC-S™ pilot qualification to get a Permission for Aerial Work for undertaking commercial projects.
The end of September saw community excavations undertaken at Quay Meadow, in Lancaster. It is located north-west of the Roman fort which is partially extant within Vicarage Fields, and is just below Lancaster Castle. The excavations were undertaken by Lancaster and District Heritage Group in tandem with a wider project aimed at trying to understand the heritage and archaeology of the area which is conducted by Beyond the Castle.
The three excavated trenches were located over interesting anomalies identified in an earlier geophysical survey of Quay Meadow previously undertaken by OANorth. The preliminary results of the excavations suggest evidence for a Roman road heading down towards the original Roman quayside, and what was initially identified as possibly being a post-medieval/modern structure in the geophysics actually turned out to be wall foundations of several Roman buildings found just below the topsoil. There is clearly much much more that Lancaster and District Heritage Group can get their teeth into in future years.
In practice the UAV survey was relatively simple for this site as all we wanted was a general plan view of all of the trenches and detailed post-excavation surveys of each individual trench, which we then created from the photogrammetry in Agisoft PhotoScan. We also created contours of the surrounding topography but this was not as spectacular as earlier results undertaken on the earthworks in Vicarage Fields to the south-east of the site.
Here are some pictures of my Monday child rearing duties the other week that included a nice trip around the wooded grounds surrounding Lytham Hall. I’ve wanted to visit there for ages because at this time of year they put on a series of snowdrop walks. The Lytham Town Trust have secured significant funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the hall and grounds, and this was particularly evident where the South prospect garden and parterre are now under reconstruction. The footpaths through the woodland and up on the prospect mound have been upgraded which made lugging a buggy around much easier than before.
Well where has the long extended summer of 2014 gone now? Unfortunately I have been an infrequent poster on here over the last few months what with work, traveling all over and getting things written up back in the office. Now that the nights are drawing in I will try to post some more interesting things that I have seen, or done, and places visited this summer.
For starters here are some more images of our May 2014 visit to the Ribble Steam Railway based in Preston. I liked the shiny refurbished exhibits with their bright coats of paint sat in what is a great little museum collection, but I often find the rusty, dusty and careworn items much more interesting. Maybe I should take up urbex for a hobby?
We took the little ones down to the Ribble Steam Railway based on the docks in Preston at the end of May. There was a steam day and a teddy bear’s picnic event going on over the weekend. We have lived relatively close to the railway for many years and I have seen the sign for it in passing but I never realised how extensive it was. The track is quite short, being only a fragmentary remnant of the dock-side railway at the now redeveloped Preston Docks. The exhibition building is massive though and you can also go around the dusty and rusty workshops too. As with most industrial heritage/archaeology museums there is a stark contrast between the bright and shiny things and the dilapidated and rusty things. Here are a few more images of the shiny/colourful things.
Despite my eyes being expertly honed by many years of daily use for landscape investigation, it was my wife who yesterday discovered this lonely group of pet burials incongruously wedged between modern building extensions and a car park. I must have overlooked these many times over the last few years as I traveled down this street connecting the local library with the seafront Promenade.
It turns out that the burials are associated with The Grand Hotel which was built on the Promenade in 1897. At least the earliest examples are memorials for the dogs owned by Miss Kitty Holloway who ran the hotel from 1912 to at least the 1940s.
It never ceases to amaze me of how much is out there to discover if we only just stop, think and actually use our eyes to observe.
It has been a bit quiet archaeology-wise in the usual lull since Christmas, with all the feverish writing up of reports that I need to do rather than fieldwork. I thought I would trawl back through my photos to see if there was anything to post up and I came across these images of the Catch the Wind Kite Festival on the beach at Morecambe. I think it was a bit of a cloudier day to the more recent festival I posted on in St Anne’s last year but the scenery is a bit more interesting!
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 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 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.
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.
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.
Last Sunday we visited the museum at Bancroft Mill in Barnoldswick, Lancashire which is located betwixt the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland. I can usually be persuaded to visit any sort of archaeology or heritage site in the land given the chance, and it so happened that my father in law was going to be dancing there as part of Stone The Crows a group of Border Morris dancers. This was on one of the periodic Heritage Steam Days when the boilers are stoked up and the preserved steam engine which would have once powered the long gone looms is put through its paces.
The Bancroft mill was a very late construction with the weaving shed only being commissioned in 1920 for James Nutter & Sons Limited, and the site may be the one of the last such mills constructed in the area. When the site closed down in 1979 the weaving shed was demolished but the engine house, chimney and boiler shed have subsequently been preserved and kept as a working steam museum.
The engine house contains a 600hp cross compound engine by William Roberts of Nelson. On such an engine the cylinders and cranks are on either side of the flywheel. The cylinders of the engine are each individually named, with the low pressure side being called ‘Mary Jane’, and the high pressure side called ‘James’.
Steam is now raised at the mill to power the engine by a Cornish Boiler, which itself had originally been installed at the mill to give auxillary power to supplement a larger Lancashire Boiler. The Lancashire Boiler is still on site but is now no longer fired up and is used as a water reservoir for the raising of steam.
The large number of looms which would have once produced cotton cloth have all long since been removed, although there is a single working example kept in the engine shed which is used to produce souvenir tea towels. All in all I would recommend the museum as an interesting afternoon out, particularly on a day when they have the engine working. The Bancroft Mill Engine Trust volunteers we met were all friendly and knowledgeable and the café by the entrance serves a reasonably priced mug of tea. As usual we also came away with a ‘Bancroft Mill’ emblazoned tea towel and a commemorative mug!