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 has helped dales folk search for clues to medieval and ancient history in their own back yards. The Hall was being 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, will be back in Swaledale this week to congratulate local archaeology enthusiasts whose two-year community project, the Swaledale Big Dig, has involved more than 500 people.
Prof Lewis, who launched the project in 2014, will be the main speaker at its formal conclusion in Reeth on Friday evening (15 April). She will explain 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 will also be 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, both at the Memorial Hall in Reeth, will learn 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 will see what the evidence reveals 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.