YAHS excursion to Helmsley Archaeological store & Ampleforth

Jane is now taking bookings for Thursday 8 June, a day in the Helmsley area. A guided tour of the Helmsley Archaeological Store at 10.30 a.m. is free of charge, though individual donations to English Heritage are requested. There’s a maximum of 20 people.

After this, by car to Ampleforth Abbey for a look in the visitor centre and lunch in the tearooms at 12.30 p.m. Vegetable soup, assorted sandwiches (including vegetarian) and tea/coffee costs £8.25 each, pay on the day.

At 2.15 we have a guided tour of Ampleforth Abbey Church, again FOC with individual donations asked for. There’s no limit on the numbers for this.

Please reserve your place by emailing Jane Ellis at janerway@gmail.com, or drop her a line at 10E Joseph’s Well, Hanover Walk, Leeds LS3 1AB. Deadline for bookings to be received is Wed 31st May.


This Exploited Land of Iron

To Rosedale yesterday, to one of the launch events for ‘This Exploited Land of Iron’. As a townie transplanted to the North York Moors, I’ve spent the last 20 years discovering that this harsh, open landscape is very much the result of centuries of human activity. What more surprising than to discover that Grosmont was (briefly) site of Victorian blast furnaces, and Danby (before railways came) a centre of early-modern coal-mining.

Rosedale is truly exceptional. The exhibition showed tools and images of iron-mining – from the 1850s, though there’s a much longer history of this industry in the dale. When iron was taken out in bulk, the rail line built across the head of Farndale carried it over the moors to Ingleby incline, a mile-long one in five slope leading to Teesside. 1,000 people then lived in the upper reaches of Rosedale, most in 100 miners’ cottages, about half of which still stand. The number of pupils in the school, now a community hall, peaked at 200.

This new £3.8 m. project, supported by the NYM National Park and HLF, runs for four years and covers 77 square miles of land affected by past iron-working. There’s a big emphasis on recording and protecting industrial remains. Volunteers are learning about 3-D imaging, and there are opportunities for community archaeology and surveying. For more see here.

One of this summer’s opportunities to see what’s happening: PLACE has organised a field trip to look at the remains of iron-working and mineral railways at the top of Rosedale, on Wednesday 2 August, led by the TELI programme manager Tom Mutton. You’ll need to pre-book, bring a packed lunch, and be equipped with walking boots and ready for a four- or five-mile walk over the moors. Meet at The Lion Inn, Blakey Ridge (SE 679997) at 11.00am. Cost: £5.00 a head.

PLACE summer events

Plenty going on at PLACE (part of York St John). See here for the summer newsletter.

Highlights include

  • a short course on Viking Yorkshire
  • a walk on 3 June around a new geological trail in the footsteps of William Smith in Hackness
  • a visit to Norton Conyers on 22 July

Musing on Joseph’s Well

Coming up to completing our second month at Joseph’s Well, and getting used to three rooms rather than 30 or so. (The Claremont tally was never fully clear, but there were a lot of them, and all very cold.)

We’re certainly not cold now. The new offices are warm, light, pleasant and airy. There’s  enough space for a dozen or so people to meet, a private room for treasuring and admin, super fast broadband, kitchen (cost of drinks raised to 50p by presidential edict), a phone that takes messages and emails them to the officers, and all very accessible. The society is now run wholly by volunteers, with an aim of staffing the office on Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 am to 4 pm (please check ahead if you’re planning to call.) We encourage activity outside those times, for project meetings and by volunteers running online sales, publishing and other YAHS work.

There’s a full year left on our short lease, and we have to think hard, very soon, about whether Joseph’s Well is the right location. Office space in central Leeds doesn’t come cheap, but we no longer have the heavy responsibility of maintaining Claremont, with the accompanying liabilities, particularly the worry of large unforeseen bills. Proceeds of the Claremont sale are being invested long-term, to produce an annual income, and our financial management is now excellent. We can feel secure, as we know where we are.

So this is a breathing space, to consider whether these premises and the Woodhouse area are right for us – whether indeed to stay in the middle of Leeds, weighing up public transport access, parking issues, and office costs. To be continued…. affordable/ practical suggestions welcome.

The evolution of dwarf elephants

We’ve been asked to share this information about the George De Boer Biennial Public Lecture at the University of Hull, on 4 May 2017:

Palaeobiologist and mammoth expert Dr Tori Herridge is visiting Hull to share her research on the evolution of dwarf elephants, which once lived on Mediterranean islands but are now extinct. Her title is ‘The What, When and How of Dwarf Elephant Evolution, and Why it Matters’.

A palaeobiologist at the Natural History Museum in London, Dr Herridge specialises in fossil elephants, particularly those species which lived in Europe during the Ice Age. Dr Herridge has been involved in a number of TV projects for Channel 4 including Woolly Mammoth: The Autopsy, Walking Through Time and Britain at Low Tide. She has appeared on Russell Howard’s Good News, BBC Breakfast and CBS This Morning, as well as BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week and Saturday Live.

She is also the co-founder of TrowelBlazers, an organisation dedicated to telling the stories of pioneering women in palaeontology, geology and archaeology, and addressing gender disparity in these fields.

In an article for the Guardian she once wrote “I live, sleep and dream mammoths.”

The George De Boer Biennial Lecture, which is hosted by the University’s School of Environmental Sciences, is open to the public and free to attend. It’s being held on Thursday, 4th May 2017 in the Allam Lecture Theatre, Esk Building. There is a reception from 6pm in the Derwent Café and the lecture starts at 6.30pm and lasts for approximately an hour.

The George de Boer lecture was established in 1984 on the retirement of George de Boer, who worked at the University from 1947 to 1983.

The Pocklington ponies

“The remains of a pair of horses have been found in East Yorkshire, lying on their sides with their skulls facing each other and their front legs apparently intertwined, in a shallow grave in Pocklington. They have not yet been scientifically dated, but they were probably buried between around 400 and 100 BC. Barring a remarkable coincidence, they had been sacrificed to accompany the body of someone who had once driven them in front of a chariot. The remains of both rider and two-wheeled cart, as some archaeologists would prefer to call it, were also found in the grave, which is so shallow it may be that a mound, since gone, was raised over the funerary arrangement placed on the surface of the ground.”
For more of this article, see SALON – Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter.

Recent news stories on Scotch Corner excavations

Lots in the news recently about discoveries during work on the A1 upgrade near Catterick. I’m sticking with the Historic England version – see here – as it’s less given to flights of fancy than some of the media reports. Meanwhile, certain prehistorians grumbling about how Romans enjoy so much attention when the finds include Iron Age round houses, coin moulds, and imported materials….

Here, to wind them up further, is a Roman shoe.

Arras 200 – Celebrating the Iron Age

The Royal Archaeological Institute’s conference in York, 17-19 November,l celebrates the 200th anniversary of the first excavations on the Middle Iron Age cemetery at Arras in East Yorkshire. It coincides with a special exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum displaying artefacts from those excavations.

The conference is organised in association with the Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society and the East Riding Archaeological Society. YAHS members qualify for an early bird discount if booking before 31 July. There are also some student bursaries available.

For programme and booking details, see here.

Asa Briggs and Labour History

Here’s a conference, open to all, celebrating the work of a distinguished historian, Asa Briggs, head of Leeds University’s School of History, 1955-61. Free, but pre-booking is recommended: Q.Outram@lubs.leeds.ac.uk

THE LABOURS OF ASA: The contributions of Asa Briggs to Labour History

Lecture Theatre G.02, Maurice Keyworth Building, Leeds University Business School, Saturday 6 May 2017


9.30 – 10.00              Arrival

10.00                         Greeting by Keith Laybourn and Quentin Outram

10.05                         Malcolm Chase: ‘ Samuel Smiles (and Asa Briggs) and                                    working-class Leeds’

10.50                        John Belchem:  ‘Beyond the Age of Improvement’

11.40                         Joan Allen:  ‘The progressive tradition and print culture at the                                   fin de siècle: The Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend 1887-1891’

12.30-1.45                Lunch

1.30                            Poster presentations of five minutes each from PhD students

                                                Ethan Hoskings ‘Partnership, Paternalism and Peace’

                                                Hazel Perry – ‘Trades Councils’

                                                John Kimberley – ‘Industrial Relations in Birmingham in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries’

1.50                            Eileen Yeo:  ‘Rival Town Halls in Glasgow: Revisioning Asa Briggs’  work on ‘the urban public sphere’

2.30                            Peter Ackers and Alistair Reid:  ‘The Pluralist Tradition and civic society’

3.20                            Hugh Gault:  ‘The BBC, Seebohm Rowntree and social reform’

4.00                            Stephen Yeo:  ‘Remembering Asa Briggs’

4.45                            Finish