Friday, 26 November 2010

30. Wednesday 24 November 2010

Because it was so cold this morning, and snow was forecast as a possibility, the plane tables and alidade were abandoned in favour of geophysics which would keep us all moving around and relatively warm.

Today’s challenge was to survey a series of 20metre squares – but these squares were intersected by an old drystone wall – and not a straight one. While earthworks are clearly visible in one field, three of us were on the other side of the wall, in a field which is virtually featureless, apart from the remains of an old wall adjacent to the existing one – this field has recently been ploughed to be re-sown with grass, so that only geophysics can now reveal if anything interesting once lay here.

We worked on both sides of the wall, holding conferences while peering over the top, and holding tapes up high over the wall to measure off the 20m squares

– not easy for the little ‘uns amongst us! The transfer of equipment back and forth over the wall was also an interesting exercise.

Admittedly we went wrong a couple of times, miscalculating the number of “dummy” readings we had to build in to take account of the meanderings of the wall across the middle of our survey area, and then in the afternoon finding the plug has come out of the cable drum, so that the readings were being taken from a circuit that was completed by the plug lying in wet grass. We had to re-take a large chunk of the geophysics survey. Still, it’s all good fun! In the end we did remarkably well, covering a good deal of ground, and it didn’t snow after all. But we were beginning to get very cold, and our fingers were getting numb.

We felt we thoroughly deserved our late afternoon tea, hot chocolate and cream scones at the Cracoe café.

Jane Lunnon

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

29. Tuesday 16th November 2010

As the weather forecast for Wednesday was so awful, Roger brought forward our day for surveying this week to Tuesday, which has caused great confusion to us all – we now really don’t know what day of the week it is!

However we were a very select group of 4 who met in the cold and mist at Bank Field, but we warmed up as we set to work.
Paul and Margaret were soon busy with ‘Bob’ recording more banks in the lower field, while Roger and Ruth set out a 20m grid for a geophysical survey of the lower western corner of the field.
This done, the ‘geophys’ team then proceeded to the upper field, to record the long bank there. Three 20m grids were laid out by lunch time. Meanwhile the sun had broken through and the scenery was again spectacular with blue sky and banks of mist slowly clearing from the valleys.
The afternoon progressed and in spite of constant interruptions – visits from the farmer, the sheep being rounded up by 2 dogs, (which we just had to watch!) radio calls from Paul in the lower field (‘Bob’ was being temperamental!), etc, the geophysics was eventually completed.

We all agreed that it had been a good day and how right Roger had been to change from Wednesday!
Ruth Spencer

Thursday, 11 November 2010

28. Wednesday 10 November 2010

Peter Gallagher writes:

Whilst most of the team were measuring in the other field, Jane and I were selected, cajoled, threatened, to use the Alidade in the farthest field. There was only one small snag, neither of us knew how to work the thing! Anyway we set it up on the plane table and tried to look busy for a while until Roger could come and sort us out.

He soon showed us where we were going wrong. Basically everything! So we had lunch and were able to use it in the afternoon.
I say we, I held the staff and Jane did all the hard work in between whimpering softly.

But the weather was great, we had a good walk over the field to start with, and it appears we may be looking at some housing platforms of Iron or even Bronze age.

Peter Gallagher

Sunday, 7 November 2010

27. Wednesday 3 November 2010

Vera Breary writes:

Given that Tuesday had seen torrential rain and high winds, most of us thought the likelihood of Wednesday being a good day for surveying seemed slim. But we were lucky (again) and Wednesday dawned dry, clear and with some sunshine. With rain forecast for 3pm (ish) we cracked on as soon as we arrived.

The results from the geophysics from previous weeks are excellent, with a variety of features showing very clearly. To complete the surveying of some of these features Roger decided we would work on a stretch by the field wall, using both geophysical survey and good old tapes and measures. This could have resulted in considerable confusion (not to mention tripping over tapes running in all directions) but we managed to keep out of each other's way.

Ruth, Margaret and Vera worked on the drawn topographical survey, whilst Peter, Jane and Pauline carried on with the geophys. Paul and Jennifer worked with the Total Station in another part of the field and Roger helped out, advised and directed as necessary.
A late-ish lunch (the rain clouds were approaching and nobody wanted to stop) was followed by a dash to complete the day's project. Bang on 3pm the rain came and we retired, in time honoured fashion, to the tea shop. Well some of us did. Peter, Paul and Margaret worked on through the rain to do some preliminary plotting of another field, ready to start surveying there next week.

Vera Brearey

Monday, 1 November 2010

26. Wednesday 27th October 2010

Boots and wellies on? Check!

The geophysics team worked hard today to complete the survey of 8 x 20m squares. The task was made difficult by the presence of the large earthwork banks which put our right-angles out of kilter.
The never-ending "up one lane, and then down the next"
We seemed to spend a very long time simply trying to straighten our tapes, and make sure we had good, tight squares laid out for the grid.

In the meantime, the tapes and measure team were busy with their topographical survey of the features in the corner of the field, which we are apparently now calling “Sally’s Gill” instead of Bull Pasture. It seems the field has changed its name since the Tithe Award map.

Paul and Jennifer spent the afternoon getting to grips with Bob, the total station, to take readings from various large earthwork banks across the field.

A good day’s work.

Jane Lunnon.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

24. Wednesday 20 October.

A freezing cold morning after the heavy frost last night, and with a very cold northerly wind – definitely a day for the thermals! But the sun shone and the views were spectacular.
As today was scheduled as only a half –day, Roger took the opportunity for some instruction on surveying, followed by a general walk-over.

photo by Alan Williams

We started by looking at the 1: 200 scale drawing done last week by Ruth’s team, and comparing it with what could actually be seen on the ground. After Roger had instructed us about surveying and the appropriate use of hachures, we looked at the results of the geophys. survey, also done last week. Some very exciting structures could be seen, unfortunately not shown completely in the area surveyed. This means a further survey of the adjacent area next week, of not 7 but 9 x 20m squares!
photo by Alan Williams

As Roger would also like last week’s triangulation & off-set survey re-done at a scale of 1:500, together with the rest of the fields, it looks like a busy time ahead - let’s hope the weather holds!

photo by Alan Williams

We then walked over ‘Richard’s field’ to look at the ‘lumps and bumps’ there, and after a quick coffee to warm us all up, inspected the field adjacent to the ones we have already looked at, approaching this from Moor Lane. Again there appears to be quite a number of interesting features to be investigated here.

By this time it was 12.30pm, so we adjourned for lunch, with some reluctance as the sun was really pleasant by now.

Ruth Spencer

Friday, 15 October 2010

23. Wednesday 13 October 2010

A glorious Indian summer allowed us to do a good day’s work in Bull Pasture today. Ruth, Margaret and Vera set to on the topographical survey using triangulation and offset measurements with tapes, while Jane, Pauline, Alan and Peter conducted a resistivity survey over a 8 x 20metre square grid. In the meantime, David helped Roger with some surveying using our total station, “Bob the Builder”.

The day went very smoothly, and a lot of ground was covered. The geophysics was hard work, but shared between four people it went remarkably quickly.

Jane Lunnon, UWHG

Sunday, 10 October 2010

22. Wednesday 6 October 2010

After a very dubious start the weather gradually improved to give us a sunny afternoon, but with a fairly strong breeze, which was very pleasant for working.
Numbers were down today, with several people on holiday, so there were only 4 of us and Roger.
Jane and Pauline continued their walkover in the large field, joining up with the work done by Alan and Paul last time. Margaret and Ruth put the finishing points to their gazetteer and then began the actual surveying. Roger in the meantime had laid out two grid squares for a gradiometer survey, so Ruth and Margaret could use these tapes for their base line, which was very convenient! Consequently they made good progress and managed to complete the plotting in of the eastern end of the long south wall by the end of the day.
We adjourned for tea, leaving Roger to plot in points with the dGPS.

Ruth Spencer

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

21. Wednesday 29th September 2010

The team were forced indoors today by inclement weather. Assembling in the Devonshire Institute Roger gave a introductory talk on the intricacies of converting field survey drawings to publishable material. We then took some of the survey drawings from this year's Chapel House Wood excavations and proceed to “ink them up”. Work also started on digitising the gazetteer details from the last 2 weeks of field work. Finished around 13:00 and repaired to the Fountaine at Linton for lunch, tough business this archaeology lark!

That's the way to do it! © Jane Lunnon

Hopefully the weather will be kinder next week

Alan Williams

Sunday, 26 September 2010

20. Bank Lane Wednesday 22nd September 2010

Despite ominous weather forecasts, we enjoyed a beautiful day today for our second session in the fields off Bank Lane. The task was to draw up the preliminary Gazetteer of features in which we compiled a rough plan of the site, and gave each visible feature an ID number and GPS reference.

We split into 3 teams, and as ever, found that the aim to complete our mission by the end of the day was, in the event, far too ambitious. Still, we made excellent progress, and as we became more familiar with the site, were getting faster at the recording process. Our new volunteers, Jennifer, Margaret and Paul, appeared to enjoy themselves and cottoned on quickly to the surveying.

Far too much hilarity at lunch-time © Jane Lunnon

It is becoming very clear that this has a very different feel to High Close, yet some features seem familiar in character. There are some very substantial earthworks, some of which appear to continue under the walls into neighbouring fields, which is very intriguing.

Alan and Paul ponder over the intricacies of the earthworks © Jane Lunnon

There is still some more work to do on the Gazetteer next week and we hope for continuation of good weather.

Jane Lunnon.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

19. Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The wind blew, the rain poured and a grey autumn mizzle surrounded us as we arrived at the car park in Grassington this morning. 5 brave souls turned up for the first autumn session of 2010 field surveying for the YDLRT project. Continuing on from our survey of High Close in the spring, Roger took us to Bank Lane Field and introduced us to the next phase of the project.

Undeterred by a little bit of weather!

Here we had two fields (and possibly a third) to survey, which, like High Close, are dominated by complex earthworks, virtually impossible to date at this stage.

While Paul helped Roger set up the GPS to establish the fixed reference points, the 4 others split into two pairs, one per field; and battling against the gusts of wind and the rain, attempted to make a start on creating a gazetteer of features.

Vera checks the plans.

During the lunch break we sought shelter by a wall, under a tree, which occasionally shook the excess water from its leaves all over us. We decided to call it a day and headed for the tea shop

Jane Lunnon

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Tuesday 16th February 2010

Having taken a break from the High Close Project while we are engaged with other projects, we were glad to be back on the site for a guided tour of the walls provided by Alison Armstrong.

Alison’s detailed survey of the drystone walls around the High Close field was extended to include surrounding parliamentary enclosure walls and ancient township boundaries, to produce a fascinating study of boundaries, landscape management and the context of drystone walls within the Dales around Grassington. Her study is a valuable addition to the High Close project, focusing as it does upon this most evocative, yet in terms of academic study, relatively neglected of Dales features.

Starting with High Close itself, Alison guided us around the perimeter of this early enclosure, pointing out features which suggest possible prehistoric origins, medieval and early modern structures, and 19th Century repair work.

Above: A medieval wall sitting on the bank of an earlier, perhaps prehistoric boundary; the angular sandstone flags amongst the limestone boulders indicate extensive 18th-19th C repairs.

Above: An 18th Century enclosure wall - with much greater use of angular stone than in the medieval walls.

A nice example of a neat 19th century wall

Leaving High Close we explored the walls of the parliamentary enclosure of 1792 which were built to create some of the neighbouring fields. Along the way we had a look at Bare House, a large farmhouse which features in documentary evidence to at least the early 17th century, and is now sadly abandoned.

Crossing the old township boundary between Grassington and Conistone-with-Kilnsey, we eventually picked up the Dales Way and turned about to head back to Grassington, past the old lead mines and a couple of impressive large lime kilns.

Boz contemplates the significance of drystone walls within the context of the historic Dales landscape...

Please note: High Close is private land and there is no public access. However, the Dales Way and other footpaths pass through the area to the north and west of High Close, where walkers can see for themselves the changing nature of Dales drystone walls and boundaries.

Alison’s study of the walls has been submitted to the Yorkshire Dales Landscape Research Trust who are running the High Close project. For further information about the project see their website:

Jane Lunnon, UWHG