Help Swaledale Archaeologists Search for Romano-British Community
Volunteers are invited to help the Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Archaeology Group in an exciting project this summer as they explore a Romano-British site at Fremington which may have links to the Roman centre at Catterick.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund which supports projects that result in positive benefits for the local environment, economy and communities, while enhancing and conserving local culture, wildlife and landscape, has awarded a grant for the dig in July at Hagg Farm.
The excavation will focus on opening up a large area across the site, as well as offering an opportunity to explore below the layer at which it was abandoned to investigate its origins and development.
Philip Bastow who is managing the project explained that “Thanks to David Clarke and his family who own The Hagg, SWAAG has explored different areas and revealed evidence of possible roundhouses, enclosures and walls. The finds suggest that the site was Romano-British and abandoned towards the end of the fourth century AD. However, we have no evidence as to when the site was established or how it was developed and indeed we are not even sure what it was for.”
Philip said “I am confident that this is a major site and of great significance for Swaledale. We need to find out more and may be able to link the site to the era of trade and prosperity that arose following Roman development at Catterick.”
He added, “This is very much a community project and we would like as much support as possible from local volunteers with an interest in archaeology. We can provide all the training, we just want their enthusiasm.”
The dig will be held from July 5 to 19, there are no charges for participation and all equipment and training will be provided. Children under the age of 16 are welcome, but must be supervised at all times by a parent or guardian.
Anyone who doesn’t wish to dig but would still like to visit the site is welcome to join a guided walk on Saturday, July 15 which will leave the shelter on Reeth green at 10am for a round trip of about 4 miles.
For more information about the walk or taking part in the dig, see the group website www.SWAAG.org, email: info@SWAAG.org or phone 01748 884555.
There will also be an opportunity to learn more about the site, the opportunities for participation in the dig and to talk to members of SWAAG, on Saturday, June 24 between 2pm and 4pm in Reeth Memorial Hall.
The Swaledale & Arkengarthdale Big Dig
The Big Dig was launched in the Memorial Hall in March 2014 by TV archaeologist and ‘Time Team’ expert Dr Carenza Lewis, of Cambridge University. This two-year community archaeology project helped dales folk search for clues to medieval and ancient history in their own back yards. The Hall was used as a base during the test pit digging weekends and for a series of training and educational events.
TV archaeologist and ‘Time Team’ expert Prof Carenza Lewis, returned to Swaledale to congratulate local archaeology enthusiasts whose two-year community project, the Swaledale Big Dig, involved more than 500 people.
Prof Lewis, who launched the project in 2014, was the main speaker at its formal conclusion in Reeth on Friday 15 April, 2016. She explained how the results of the Big Dig will contribute to national archaeological research. An analysis of the finds from 50 test pits dug in and around the neighbouring villages of Reeth, Fremington and Grinton was also presented.
Alan Mills, spokesman for the Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Archaeology Group (SWAAG), which organised the Big Dig, said: “In addition to digging test pits we have also run 24 free training courses in archaeology, led 11 guided archaeology walks, organised exhibitions and presentations, and run several events with local schools, involving children in geophysical surveying and test-pit digging.
“In total more than 500 people have taken part in one way or another. To have engaged so many people’s interests in archaeology has far exceeded our expectations. Hopefully we have inspired some young people to become the next generation of archaeologists, whether amateurs like ourselves or professionals like Carenza Lewis.”
People attending the presentation on Friday evening and a free exhibition the following day learned how the Big Dig uncovered more than 4,000 pieces of dating evidence, mostly in the form of pieces of pottery and metal ware, and saw what the evidence revealed about the social and economic history of the area since the 1100s.
The Swaledale Big Dig was backed by the National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund, and supported by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.