YIHO meets Exploited Land of Iron

A very successful meeting at North York Moors National Park HQ in Helmsley yesterday between members of our very own Yorkshire Industrial Heritage Online, and the fairly new and very promising project This Exploited Land of Iron.

This Exploited Land of Iron is a major HLF-funded scheme concerned with the history and archaeology of iron-mining, -working and -transporting in the national park. The project, led by Tom Mutton and Maria Calderon, is now looking to add data and join YIHO as a fully-fledged contributor. 

YAHS members interested in looking at YIHO can obtain access details ahead of the full launch, which will be on the society’s new website. We’re expecting this to go live before long. Still a bit vague, but watch this space.

CBA’s Home Front Legacy 1914-18 project

An interactive website asking local groups and individuals to record and map First World War sites. Here’s the information:

Dear Colleague,

I’m writing to tell you about the Home Front Legacy project coordinated by the Council for British Archaeology. The Home Front Legacy project helps local communities find out about, and map, the remains of the First World War, and raise awareness of the wide range of archaeology that survives across the UK.

If you are one of the 100’s of groups and individuals that are already taking part in the Home Front Legacy project, we’d like to thank you for all your support, and ask for your continued help spreading the word and getting more people involved in the project by sharing this message with other societies and groups in your local area who may be interested in taking part. We would also like to ask for your help recruiting a network of Champions who make a real difference to the project through their commitment and enthusiasm.

By recording sites you are making a valuable contribution to the archaeological record and ensuring that the story of these sites is preserved for future generations. It’s also a great opportunity to develop new skills, creates an opportunity for teamwork, and can be tied in with other research you may be involved with in your local archives and museums.

There are a number of ways you can get involved and encourage your members to take part:

  • Have a look at the website and see what has already been recorded near you.
  • Host a Home Front Legacy meeting to work through the training guide together, go on a site visit, or carry out some desk based research to find out about sites you could record in your local area.
  • Work with your local branch of the Young Archaeologists Club using our resources for young people.
  • Share information about the project with your members and encourage them to get involved via your newsletters and social media.

To find out more please take a look at the Home Front Legacy website where you will find out all about the recording app, be able to search the sites that have been recorded so far, access useful resources, and discover all the latest news and research via our blog. When you do get involved, please share your pictures and news about what you have been doing on our social media sites.

To spread the word about this project, and get more people involved, we want to build up our network of Home Front Legacy Champions. We would like to find 5 champions in each region of England, who have made an outstanding contribution to the project by inspiring and supporting others to get involved, researching the history of sites, or showing a high standard of recording. They might be members of CBA groups, county, or local societies, or from another First World War project. If you know someone who would make a great champion please contact Claire Corkill at clairecorkill@archaeologyuk.org

If you have any questions about recording or using the app you can contact Chris Kolonko, our Home Front Legacy Project Officer. Chris’s email address is chriskolonko@archaeologyuk.org

Kind regards,

Claire Corkill

Archaeology for beginners – Shipley, this week

Here’s your chance – but you need to book in, and quickly!

Celebrating Our Woodland Heritage Project: 29th June to 2nd July, excavating the second charcoal burning platform of the summer, at Hirst Wood, Shipley, Bradford.
Chris Atkinson, woodland heritage officer, also reports:
We are now half way through our excavations at Hardcastle Crags and it’s all looking very promising with evidence of layers relating to the last ‘earth burn’ surviving in the form of dark charcoal rich soils.  We may also have discovered a retaining wall supporting the platform.


Molluscs in archaeology – new book, special offer

Analysing marine shells, and oysters? Do you know the whys, how and whats of analysis and interpretation. Need a guide? See Molluscs in Archaeology available now at prepublication price of only £18.75 (448 pages, 109 figs, 37 in colour). The prepublication offer ends soon.


Includes a seminal chapter on oyster analysis by Jessica Winder, the doyen of oyster analysis whose research has defined analysis methods and the interpretation today. Much of her excellent work is scattered in obscure journals and monographs, but this seminal chapter brings all the ideas together in one easily accessible publication. She summarises her lifetimes work in a single well-illustrated chapter! It outlines methods and interpretation of models of oyster exploitation, summarising shape and statistical analyses, and outlines caution in interpretation.

Marine shells

What can marine shells tell you about?

How and where were they collected or harvested, how were they processed, consumed and discarded?

This book provides information on sampling strategies, recovery, and numbers of shells needed for analysis (Greg Campbell), on cleaning, identification and analytical approach (with handy information boxes of useful literature resources), as well as details of quantification, sizing/measuring and interpretation and provenancing (Somerville, Light etc).


Are your shells shaped? Really?

Jan Light shows how easy it can be to be fooled into thinking shells are modified and shaped, when she demonstrates that this can be natural wear in living colonies.


What is a midden, what does it represent? How do you excavate and sample middens, and what can they tell you is explained by Karen Hardy.

Ornaments and tools

Shells can be pierced (is this natural or deliberate?) and used for ornaments and as tools – Janet Ridout-Sharpe, and Kat Szabo guide you through some examples while Jan Light and Tom Walker look at dog whelks in archaeological contexts  and the evidence for purple dye.


Can your shells be radiocarbon dated? What shells do you need? How many? what are the problems? Two chapters by Douka, and Fernandes & Dreves detail this for you.


Oh yes the book also cover land snails, – sampling, processing, interpretation, land-use and landscapes.

Particular strengths of this volume are that it integrates studies of terrestrial and marine molluscs, each often pursued separately, and covers a wide range of themes ranging from palaeo-environmental and palaeoeconomic topics to the use of molluscs as sources of information about technology, symbolism, dating and diet. Prof. Geoff Bailey

Allen, M.J. (ed.), 2017 Molluscs in Archaeology; methods approaches and applications. Oxford: Oxbow Books

  1. 448 pages, 109 figures (37 in colour), 12 tables, 5 information boxes

Latest on Industrial History of Leeds day school

The day school planned for 5 August has had to be postponed. We’re hoping this will be the first of many collaborations with Armley Mills industrial museum, and more time is needed to plan it, to make sure all goes smoothly. As smoothly as a well-oiled machine…

So – Plan B – the idea is to run it on a Saturday early in 2018. The panel of speakers will be the same:

  • Sheila Bye on the Middleton Colliery Railway – the first commercially successful steam railway
  • John Pease talking about a Leeds engine builder – probably J & H McLaren
  • Helen Gomersall exploring tanning and the Leeds leather industry
  • Gill Cookson on the birth of mechanical engineering in Leeds

New date to be announced as soon as we have it.




(Image: Middleton Railway)

Visit to Houses of Parliament and the Parliamentary Archives

BALH has arranged a visit to the Houses of Parliament and Parliamentary Archives on 8 August 2017. Places limited, early booking advised.

The morning conducted tour, during the summer recess when Parliament will not be sitting, will include the Commons and Lords Chambers, the Queen’s Robing Room, the Royal Gallery and Westminster Hall.


In the afternoon there will be a talk and conducted tour of the Parliamentary Archives located in the Victoria Tower which, although there is a lift, will involve having to climb the stairs up and down to the higher rooms and so visitors will require a suitable degree of mobility for this visit. Members will be shown some of the surviving records  which are stored at the top of the Tower together with the research facilities available. No children under the age of 16 years are allowed. There is a maximum of 16 visitors for this event. Attendees must carry photographic ID (e.g. passport, driving licence).

Full details here. The cost is £22.00 members, £24.00 non-members.

Themes at BALH: housing and migration

If your ambition is to publish an article in The Local Historian, maybe write about the history of housing! Dr Alan Crosby, the journal’s editor, showed how underrepresented the topic has been. Considering how significant housing is to everyone, very little appears that is not architectural, or “quaint”, or about grand houses. The sources are good for 20th-century council housing, so that does enjoy some coverage. But as for the highly important topic of 1930s middle-class suburban estates, Alan memorably points out that there’s far more attention paid to the tramways that ran through them.

The 2017 BALH lecture was delivered by Prof. Chris Dyer, author of one of my very favourite books, the fascinating and accessible Making a Living in the Middle Ages. He spoke about medieval migration and social mobility, shooting a metaphorical arrow through the outmoded view that people were immobile and rigidly stratified. Chris analysed taxpayers’ surnames for placenames. As family names became fixed around the end of the 13th century, he was able to show just how much people moved around., and that this happened even before the Black Death, which has often been thought of as a turning point in working prospects for the poorer classes.

Next year’s BALH Local History Day will be on 2 June in York.

BAHL Local History Day

Miles behind with the blog – the election turned out to be too interesting… So back to reality and catching up about my trip to the British Association for Local History event last weekend. The main point of attending was a fringe discussion exploring how feasible it is to launch a forum for County Societies. The idea would be to share experiences, good practice, and maybe a common front on external issues that affect us all. The attraction: it could save us all time, and avoid re-inventing wheels. The bad news: someone, very likely the person who foolishly suggested this, will end up with yet another burden, even if most of the interchange is online. And I don’t have much spare capacity.

Debate to be continued. Also I’ll be reporting on a following post about some of the BALH proceedings. It was a very good day, though even then I didn’t escape the election. The leaders’ debate had been in York the previous evening, and who should be sitting next to me on his way back to London but Faisal Islam of Sky News.

…and visiting Ampleforth Abbey

After lunch at the abbey tea room, we joined one of the regular tours of Ampleforth Abbey, guided by Father Christopher. The 19th-c. chapel by the famed Catholic architect (and cab designer) Hansom – for more of whom, see Penelope Harris’s article in YAJ 85 (2013) – was demolished to make way for an abbey church, started between the wars and finally completed in the 1950s. This serves the needs of both school and monastic community.

The choir was furnished by Robert ‘mouseman’ Thompson of Kilburn.

Thanks to Jane Ellis for arranging a really good day, with what turned out to be immaculate timing. Thanks to everyone else involved for not mentioning the general election.