OUSE AND DERWENT PROJECT
In 2016 planning started once again. This time we had Paul Durdin on board as one of the professional archaeologists-
Our project this time was almost wholly archaeologically based. We had answered serious archaeological questions with our earlier work and also demonstrated that we had the expertise and volunteer workforce to undertake a much more complicated and wide-
Permission had been obtained from three landowners: Site 1 at North Duffield was on Hugh Field Lane and I had been interested in this site from the start because there was what appeared to be a double ditched trapezoidal shaped enclosure containing a roadhouse ring ditch equally as big as the one we excavated at Park House Farm in our earlier project. In fact, the two roundhouses are only 300 meters apart; Site 2 was at West End Farm, Wood Hall just outside Hemingbrough and my attention had been drawn to this by excavations ahead of clay extraction at a quarry in Hemingbrough which had revealed an industrial Iron Age site; Site 3 was at Hard Moor Farm, Wheldrake mainly because the landowner is a friend of Jon Kenny and Jon has had a continued interest in the area of Wheldrake Woods.
The intention, weather and crop patterns permitting was to excavate these three sites in the order 2,1,3. Due to the fact that we needed to conduct one excavation in each of the three years of the project and we had to take into account possible bad weather in future years, it was necessary to conduct our first dig at Hemingbrough in the autumn of 2017. Advertisements went out and our usual trusty volunteers turned up together with a strong group of both post graduate and student archaeologists from York University.
The dig took place from 30th September to 14th of October. In total, in excess of 80 people volunteered for the excavation, not, of course, all at the same time. We had a small disaster in that the large marquee, the small marquee and the toilet tent all blew down in the first few days in high winds overnight, the large marquee damaged beyond repair. I was able to repair the small marquee and we had to hire a marquee commercially which was expensive. I bought a new toilet tent and in time repaired the old one.
This image shows the damage-
The geophysics for the site was remarkable, Due to the fact that we had been badly let down by the company from whom we had intended to buy the magnetometer, we were obliged to hire one.
This image shows the magnetometer data. We decided to put trial trenches over the black and white feature (top left), the feature top centre, the linear ditch, and two roundhouse ring ditches. We also put in another trench to check for a doorway and continuity of the ring ditch.
The black and white dipole response in the top left corner, Trench 1, eventually turned out to be two buried oil drums! But, in the trench we found a number of pre-
This item has been described at a loom weight or pot lid.
This weight has been variously considered to be a thatch, loom or fishing net weight. It is made of poorly fired clay, has a hole through the top, is pyramidal in shape and has a grove either worn or made in the narrow end near the hole.
The above item was one of two complete weights recovered from the site together with parts of further similar weights. In addition fired clay, possibly from the walls of a roundhouse or kiln lining, animal bones and granulated deposits that may turn out to be either bog iron or iron pan.
Interestingly, when soil samples were later processed, hammerscale was found to be present. This is created when iron is being ‘worked’ by beating with a hammer and bits of metal fly off. So it is highly likely that iron was being both smelted and forged on site.
A few pieces of worked flint were recovered, thought to be of Mesolithic date.
Trench 5 was the most exciting in that it contained the ring ditches of two roundhouses, together with the doorway terminals and a deep Roman ditch. There were also some post holes and some post pads. Finds from this trench were Middle and Late Iron Age pot and Roman Pot.
Due to the cost of the hire of the magnetometer we decided to hire one for two weeks in 2018 and survey both sites 1 and 3. Site one presented some amazing results.
Not only does it show the double ditched trapezoidal enclosure but, it contains at least 9 roundhouse ring ditches plus others about the site, a possible drove-
When we carried out the survey at Hard Moor Farm we did not get encouraging results. We could see some ditches but the ring ditch was unclear. However, there did appear to be the footprint of a building across a hedge line and not respecting that hedge-
Google maps image of site overlain with geophysics data
Since this site did not appear to meet our research agenda, permission was sought from HLF to look for another site. Two other sites have been identified and permission from the landowners obtained. We plan to survey both sites before we decide which one meets our research questions. In the meantime, we resolved to investigate Site 3 with a limited excavation. At the end of May 2018 we opened up three small trenches, later followed by two more.
Trench 1 was in the general area of where the ring ditch was thought to be. In fact, a linear ditch, visible in the geophysics and crop marks, was confirmed as being of an Iron Age date from which pottery was recovered and one rather nice flint tool which has yet to be officially identified.
Trench 2 was a little speculative as it was based upon a very large piece of iron slag or bog iron visible on the surface at the very edge of a ditch. The lump returned a weight of 6.9kgs. On excavation, we discovered a curving ditch which may be a ring ditch and this contained more iron slag, Iron Age pottery and some flint. This was not apparent in crop marks. We also found what may be kiln lining.
Trench 3 was opened over the geophysics anomaly that we thought might be a building. It turned out to be an enclosure ditch and Trench 5 was opened to confirm this. The enclosure was possibly 15m across and contained a lot more iron slag including what looks very much like kiln lining and plenty of big rim sherds of Iron Age pottery.
Given the amount of iron slag we recovered and the possible kiln lining, it seems likely that there is a kiln somewhere nearby. We have not sent the iron slag for analysis as yet and will send it with any that we find at our dig in North Duffield later in 2018 to save money.
Trench 4 was opened on the Sunday mainly because we had too many volunteers for the remaining work that needed doing given that Trench 1 had been completed. This trench and Trench 2 were really hard work due to a thick overlay of clay, nevertheless there were some significant finds.
The site has dated, on the ceramic finds, to the period from Middle Iron Age 300BC to the early Roman period 2-
In addition to the ceramic assemblage, already mentioned iron slag et al were recovered, three flint tools and a flint core, some bone of which some was burnt and charcoal. No assessment of these other fabrics has been undertaken in an effort to save on cost. They will be included with whatever finds are produced by the dig in North Duffield later in 2018.
Apart from the archaeology element of the Ouse and Derwent Project we plan to create a filmed record of the day-
Whilst on the subject of Social Media, this has been used as the main method of choice to disseminate information on progress of the Project and advertising future events. It has proved a very efficient and effective way to reach out to the community.
Workshops have, so far, been at North Duffield Village Hall – OASIS recording system of reporting archaeological activities, Wheldrake Village Hall-
Our staff will visit local school delivering lessons on the Iron Age and allowing children to visit one of the excavation sites. We are also continuing to work with our previous partners in delivering opportunities to groups and individuals disadvantaged by disability and conditions that otherwise would preclude them from taking part in activities. This is, indeed, a very important part of our remit to be inclusive in all that we do. We are currently working with adults with learning and physical disabilities, the profoundly deaf and those on the Autism Spectrum and we look forward to running courses to back up visits to one or more of the digs.
Finally, when all the elements of the Project have been completed, we will be making reports to the Heritage Environment Record and the Archaeological Data Service as well as archaeological journals and giving presentations to local groups.
For this project we created and used a digital Context Card based on the use of a tablet. For the dig at Hemingbrough we backed everything up on paper but, when that worked faultlessly, all future excavations went paperless. We are happy to make this process available to other groups. Just email us for further details.