THE GREATER ELLAND HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND
CALDERDALE COUNTRYSIDE SERVICES PRESENT
‘DIGGING UP THE PAST’
An Archaeological event for the Festival of British Archaeology 2012
At Fall Spring Wood, Stainland on Saturday 14th July 2012
At the first meeting of the Greater Elland Historical Society on 30th July 1974 Mrs Jean Waterhouse was asked to write to the councils ‘Parks and Amenities’ Department for permission to stage a ‘Dig’ in Fall Spring Wood around a Medieval Boundary Wall. On the 6th August the ‘Dig’ took place lead by our founder Albert Moody and became the GEHS’ first outdoor activity.
Thirty Eight Years later in January 2012 Tim Patterson contacted Calderdales Countryside Services Department for permission to recreate the ‘Dig’ as part of the Society’s up and coming 40th anniversary celebrations and in a collaboration between Tim and Robin Dalton of Countryside Services an extraordinary event took place where a lot of people of all ages had an experience of archaeology they wouldn’t otherwise have had and throughout the ensuing months several trips were made to the wood and by calling in the experts, Archaeologists Brian Howcroft and Dr David Shepherd the ‘Dig’ location shifted to what we believed at the time to be the foundations of the Quarrymans Cottages. Along with arduous Health and Safety Checks and risk assessments the final meeting ahead of the ‘Dig’ took place with Tim inviting Jean Waterhouse and Maureen Odams to meet with Robin and Julie Swift (Education) to put the finishing touches to what promised to be a fantastic day.
(The view from the car park towards the Quarry Head)
(8-30am and Robin Dalton arrives complete with Quad Bike)
(Julie Swift,Adam Swift,Robin Dalton and Tom Patterson)
(Tim, Adam and Robin )
(Jean Waterhouse with Sarah Cockcroft from Libraries Department)
(A blast from the past, Aline Watson with Jean)
In one of the wettest summers in living memory we struck it lucky again. We met at 8-30 am and set about hammering in the stakes for the ‘Dig’ signs and ferrying the equipment and the marquee down the steep slope on the Quad trailer. With Jean Waterhouse already on site the arrival of an old friend of the Society, Archaeologist and Writer Aline Watson made for a delightful re-union. We were soon joined by Hannah Lodge, Loraine’s Grandaughter and as the saying goes ‘many hands made light work’ of erecting the Marquee. With the Marquee in place Julie Swift began to organise the ‘Washing Station’ and the simulated dig tubs containing real Roman and Medieval artefacts for the Children to uncover and fit onto a time- line. With the arrival of Archaeologist Brian Howcroft and his wife it was time to set up the dig site so with Tim and Robin clearing paths and setting up safety tape along the route Brian, Hannah and Tom climbed down the steep incline to the site followed by Jean and Aline.
(now, where does this pole go?)
(the washing station and education centre)
(Hannah Lodge, Brian Howcroft and Robin at the Dig site)
(This way to the ‘Dig’)
(The strange upright stones)
(Tim’s first job, to clean these steps)
By 10am everyone was in situ as visitors turned up hoping to join in. Brian and Hannah worked around the perimeter of a small wall, Jean and Aline scraped away the top surface of the ‘landfill’ just below the slope and Tim and Tom cleared a 100 years of soil and stone from the steps.
(Some teenagers turn up for a dig)
(Chairman Graeme Williams with a find)
(The trays begin to fill up)
(The steps scrub up quite well)
(These young Archaeologists came from Ilkley)
(Tom Patterson and the Quad Bike)
(Archaeologists Pippa Rochford and Dr David Shepherd)
(Julie Swift at the washing station)
(Some of the interesting finds)
(A Toy Iron, Victorian?)
(More visitors get hands on at the steps)
(An unsuccessful trench, looking for the floor)
(We finally found the drainage channel)
As is often the case, in trying to find out what happened here in the Quarry over a 100 years ago we left with more questions than answers although we deduced that these were not the ruins of cottages. The size of the giant retaining wall that stretches a good 75 metres along the wood below the dig site means that something important was here and the few giant slabs of cut stone that lay strewn about the area suggest that it could have been a ‘Stone Dressing Site’ and the discovery of the water drainage channel does fit in with that thought although we cannot say for sure. One visitor informed us that this area of the wood was never the site of a Corporation Tip and that the landfill we were digging in was bulldozed over the area when the central Quarry was flattened but he did suggest that the majority of the debris we were sifting through was late Victorian to early Edwardian with a few bits of 50’s and 60’s thrown in for good measure.
The day was a great success with upwards of 100 visitors throughout the day. It was good for the Greater Elland Historical Society and Calderdale Countryside Services to interact with the public on this scale and to be a part of the Festival of British Archaeology. An Exhibition of the best items we found will be held in Stainland Library in early September moving to Brighouse then to Elland and our History Room at Elland Library.
I would like to thank Robin Dalton, Julie Swift, Adam Swift, Brian Howcroft, Dr David Shepherd, Jean Waterhouse, Maureen Odams, Hannah Lodge, Aline Watson and Tom Patterson and not forgetting Mrs Howcroft for all the hard work They put into the day and the months leading up to it and last but not least the inspiration of Albert Moody, founder of The Greater Elland Historical Society.