Saturday, 21 July 2012

Friday 20th July 2012

Our last day on the site and again the day commenced with rain! However our depleted numbers could not permit adverse weather to hamper clearing and restoring the area of operations so we began by loading the Land Rover with all the surplus equipment that had sheltered overnight under a polythene sheet.

As it is hoped the trenches will be re-opened next year, they were covered in polythene and a layer of topsoil prior to re-turfing – a challenge when protruding rocks have to be cut round and allowed to project.

Whilst transferring the topsoil a careful eye was kept for the wild-life, one of the team with a great love and an affinity for wigglies is seen here rescuing a large worm!

The concluding analysis from Roger as Site Director was that the excavations, and specifically the magnetic susceptibility results, have highlighted the potential that this area holds for providing a greater understanding of not only the DG section, but the site as a whole.

“All gone” – the cleared site, all equipment removed, the trenches restored and handed back to the sheep, rabbits and bird life.

Final retreat off the hill….. 

Pat & Phil Carroll 

Thursday 18th July 2012

With a fine dry morning, our first task was the removal of the tunnel that had protected much of the site – a delicate operation both with disconnection of the main frames and a careful strategic retreat to safe ground to disassemble the pieces.

The major emphasis then was to complete the detailed planning of the five excavated areas and a start was made on inking up the completed plans.

These traditional recording activities were then followed by magnetic susceptibility scanning over the areas still remaining to be evaluated – this activity covered the whole area of investigation within site DG, both unexcavated and opened ground.

A fellow student came up to the site to trial a device that allowed semi-vertical photographs to be taken – a different and curious use for a fishing rod – it will be interesting to see the results.

A regular repair task – replacing the edge marker string that had attracted the attention of the resident rabbits – which have moved into our soil pile!

In view of the forecast of more heavy rain overnight our day finished by packing away as much of the dry canvas as was possible – leaving only the Finds Tent bursting at the seams with equipment.

Pat & Phil Carroll

Wednesday 18th July 2012

After a night of torrential rain, the river Wharfe was running high and the springs gushed down the hillside at CHW. This, however, earned us a reprieve from the morning site restoration session as it was deemed unsafe on the steep, slippery hillside.

This welcoming scene greeted our arrival on site – the views across the valley were far from encouraging. However, by lunchtime it had cleared with occasional glimpses of the sun in the afternoon.

After taking numerous soil samples, excavation, recording and the employment of the magnetic susceptibility equipment went ahead, in addition to careful drawing and recording of the bakestone.

Our visitors today, apart from the woolly quadrupeds with their annoying habit of attempting to devour any tapes left unguarded, were from the Ingleborough Archaeology Group and the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

With the arrival of the total station, previously hand measured and calculated locations could be confirmed, and at the close of day we said farewell to another two of our gradually depleting band of workers.

Cleaning up the bakestone

Pat & Phil Carroll

Tuesday 17th July 2012

By way of a change today the morning was dry, however things became wet in the afternoon with a series of persistent showers blowing in from the Malham direction.

In spite of the adverse weather, the work on site continued and after the inescapable ‘earth and stone moving’ session the planning of trench ‘D’ was completed and more soil samples were taken.

Further excavation now recommenced within the trenches that had already been planned and the sieves were brought into operation.

There was much excitement when an apparently undamaged bakestone (bakstone) was found in situ – some 100mm below the turf – this may prove to be the “Find of the Year” rivalling the quern from 2011.

The above photograph gives a good idea of much of this year’s areas of interest, once the turf had been removed and the initial cleaning carried out, so measuring and planning the more significant features could proceed.

Pat & Phil Carroll

Monday 16th July 2012

With the start of the second week, we have said goodbye to some of last week’s participants and welcomed new faces as well as those returning after a weekend away.

Unfortunately overnight the weather changed and the morning was decidedly wet. Following the daily restoration session the continuing rain forced everyone undercover and the long tunnel of polythene sheet and canvas came into its own, becoming cosy at times, with people working in close proximity.

Along the edge of the escarpment, overlooking the valley there are currently five small shallow rectangular trenches, most of which are sheltered by the tunnel – by the end of the day, three plans were completed, one was in progress, and the remaining trench was being taken down to the level of the rest.

A new feature for the CHW Project has been a concentration on the heat-reddened sandstone fragments found along the hillside for which we have a new weapon in the armoury – nicknamed ‘Roger’s Death-Ray’ – in reality, a device for measuring the magnetic susceptibility.

By scanning the surface in 25cm squares, readings were taken in two of the traenches - after manually recording the raw ata it was necessary to input all the readings into a computer before the data could be processed.

The site was visited by two staff members from the Workers Education Association who were looking into the possibility of involving some of their special needs students in archaeology. 

Pat & Phil Carroll

Sunday 15th July 2012

The weather decided to be kind today; it actually managed to stay fine all day and we even had spells of sunshine.

We started the day with the now traditional "Dr Martlew warm up exercise" a half hour (nominal!) period of enforced team building and site backfilling activity, entailing an attempt to return to site DF the extracted material from previous years.

After the morning break the recording of DG recommenced with all participants involved with site planning either by metre grid frame drawing or triangulation of the crucial stones.

As all the rest of the personnel were occupied with planning, the finds team kept themselves gainfully employed by cleaning back the one trench left unfinished.

Around the site, the more pleasant weather, though cool, allowed work to progress comfortably beyond the protection of our tunnel.

Under the ever watchful eye of the Site Director (and his camera) the work progresses – please note the shadows, indicative of sunshine - a rare commodity this year.

Pat & Phil Carroll

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Second Week of the dig

Despite changeable weather the dig carries on.

Pat and Phil are now up there as the Finds Team, and they will be updating us at the end of the week as to how things went on. We shall hear all about their adventures by the weekend.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Saturday 14th July 2012

The half hour of backfilling seemed to drag this morning – and it wasn’t just me. Everyone kept looking at their watches and then glaring downhill looking to see if Roger was about to call time.

Finally and thankfully we were called back down to resume work in the trenches. Lots more work on the photo-cleaning as above us the skies turned from blue to white, to overcast and dark grey. We enjoyed sunshine and rain, warmth and cold throughout the day.

Next week’s Finds Team was here for their handover day – In the absence of more than a couple of minor finds, Pat and Phil set to work laying out a large grid across the hillside ready for a magnetic survey which is to be done soon. We were visited on-site by Dr Chris Gaffney, lecturer in Archaeological Geophysics at Bradford University.
 By the afternoon with the top soil all removed and scraped away, it was time for planning.

Roger spent quite some time teaching the students how to draw plans using triangulation, while one poor girl had the task of drawing her trench using the dreaded grid frame.

Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archivist

Friday 12th July 2012

The first half hour’s backfilling should have warmed us all up, but July in the Dales is unpredictable to say the least. Through much of the day we were all wearing fleeces under winter caggies, and there was a good variety of woolly hats on parade.

Even our finds team had to dig today just to keep warm and occupied.

We were still digging out the top soil from each trench – while Roger wandered around with a permanently pensive look.

Roger thinks there may be (with the eye of faith, of course) some sort of structure beginning to appear, and a greater concentration of shattered red sandstone – but you have to concentrate very hard and use a bit of imagination to even catch a glimpse of anything that might seem even remotely un-natural.

He’s been up the ladder taking photographs of one trench so far, and we are all working hard to finish the photo-cleaning of the others.

Looking forward to a nice long hot shower to warm me up!!

Jane Lunnon, UWHG archivist

Thursday 12th July 2012

For some members of UWHG today was the first day of this year’s dig at Chapel House Wood. We arrived to find some volunteers had already been set to work the previous couple of days or so and already set up the tents, done some backfilling of the old DF trench, and had started work on the first of the new trenches.
Roger began the day by giving the newbies a guided tour of the surrounding landscape, showing them some of the other features nearby, which gave us the time to catch up on some gossip & open up the tents.

On the arrival of everyone else, Roger gleefully explained that no one was going to escape the dreaded task of backfilling this year – the first half hour of every day was to be spent backfilling DF – thus it will be done little by little, and with much less pain. So we all set to with great vigour.

The rest of the morning was spent de-turfing – not an easy task when the soil is so full of stones & boulders so near the surface. But we have a good, cheerful bunch of workers and eventually a neat chequerboard effect was produced under the polytunnel.

A warm welcome by the way to the students who hail from various universities around the country, to Lisa V who has been working on the Stanbury Hill project, and to the ladies of the 3D Archaeological Society from Harrogate who have joined the dig this week.

We enjoyed a relaxing lunch break in the sunshine before getting down to removing the topsoil in the afternoon – a long, fiddly job because of the high density of stones.

In the absence of any finds, and without Bob the total station being available this year, Our Finds Team for the next 3 days, Ann and Lynn, spent most of today trying to figure out all the fixed ref points using the tried and tested method with tape measure and theodolite, which they’ve nicknamed Lucy.

Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archivist