Building on the success and enthusiasm of the July test pitting weekend, we concluded the summer of 2017 with a week of excavations in and around the village. Historic England agreed to extend our permission to investigate the scheduled remains of the medieval village, and so the main focus for the week was investigating the road frontage – hopefully we would find the remains of medieval houses. What we actually discovered was the old line of the medieval road; we now know that the modern road was moved from its original course at a much later date!
We also opened a series of further test pits in and around the village, and also at the still-enigmatic ‘moated site’ a few kilometres away. Hundreds of small finds mean we are now really starting to understand which parts of the landscape were occupied at different times. Everyone seemed to have great fun, and the volunteers (and staff) really enjoyed the ‘Indian Summer’ weather.
Taking a look a little further afield than the village and its immediate environs, we undertook our earthwork survey training at the ‘lost’ medieval abbey at Low Swainby. This is a fascinating landscape covered with remains of medieval settlement and activity, and we are incredibly grateful to the landowner for giving us permission to spend a few days recording some of the features.
A major part of the project is the programme of training sessions we are putting on for volunteers. These are typically a combination of ‘classroom’ and practical sessions and include a whole variety of subjects including: QGIS for archaeology, landscape and earthwork survey, historic buildings analysis, medieval pottery, lithics identification and many more.
A hugely important part of the project is the work done to put the fieldwork discoveries within a wider historical context. We are very grateful to the staff of the North Yorkshire County Record Office, who gave our volunteers the best possible start to the project with a bespoke training session on what NYCRO has to offer. This work will continue throughout the life of the project and beyond, and has already started yielding valuable information.
The first time we broke ground for the project was a weekend of test pitting in and around the village in July 2017. There was a fantastic turnout of volunteers of all ages and experience, and we unearthed a range of pottery and other finds dating from the present day back to the medieval period – and possibly even earlier!