Thursday, 2 September 2010

31. Wednesday 1st September, 2010

It was a glorious day of warm summer sunshine at last, for myself, Ruth and Peter who turned up for some more surveying today. We were able to go back onto the moorside and check out a few more details for the gazetteer of archaeological features.
Peter taking a GPS reading © Jane Lunnon
And Jane continued the botanical survey as usual. There are no new flowers emerging at this time of year, so this will probably be the final month for the year’s survey of flowering plants.

The water level of the reservoir appears to have settled at a half-way point – not as low as it has been, but still revealing quite a lot of the mill site which would normally be underwater. The longer the site is exposed the more stones are moved around or thrown into the reservoir – the site is losing its integrity little by little as the weeks go by, but thankfully, so far, there has been little significant damage except to the section of 18th century field wall, now destroyed, which used to lie on the popular footpath nearby.

The Mission Building continues to deteriorate gradually, but happily is still providing enough shelter for an owl to live there.

Ruth checking the Gazatteer © Jane Lunnon

We were asked recently if there were any traces of the old cottage gardens left on the site – unfortunately the botanical survey has found no evidence of the survival of vegetables, herbs or cottage garden flowers – introduced plants such as purple and yellow irises we know were first planted here during the past decade, while the white foxgloves are growing several hundred metres away from the mill site, so we cannot be sure if they originate from the mill workers’ cottage gardens.

Jane Lunnon

Friday, 27 August 2010

30. Wednesday 25 August 2010

Alan and I turned up for a day’s botanical surveying again. Now it’s the school holidays the reservoir isn’t so quiet as normal – it’s more like the weekend, when this place is a very popular spot for family walks, and children playing. As always there were plenty of dogs around, and we enjoyed the company of several friendly canines - and their owners - curious as to what we were up to.

Alan started off the day by re-taking some of the technical photos of the mill site features on the foreshore – he’s a perfectionist with his photography and wanted to get everything just right.

Then he followed my trail of blue flags marking flowers and fungi that I thought were ready for photography.

Luckily, he was wearing his wellies as he slipped into one of the numerous little becks while photographing water mint flowers. His feet still got wet, though!

We enjoyed a leisurely lunch on the newly oiled bench by the millennium-planted oak trees. Someone has recently tidied up around here and cleared out all the weeds. Luckily the tiny little germander flowers have survived.

I spent the day finishing off the August botanical survey for the reservoir side – the moor was closed for the shooting season today, and since my survey would have involved going off the footpath, I couldn’t complete the survey on the moorside today, and will have to return another day. The flowering plants are slowing down now, and we should soon be able to stop recording these, although we still have non-flowering plants on our agenda. We hope to focus on these from September onward – and Embsay Reservoir and Moor certainly have a wide variety of grasses, mosses, lichens, ferns and fungi waiting to be recorded.

Jane Lunnon.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

29. Wednesday 18th August 2010

Toothache notwithstanding, I joined Alan at the Whitfield site today to continue our botanical survey. The weather was very changeable again, and the shower cap proved very useful in protecting Alan’s camera! We are now finding that the rate of new flowers appearing has slowed down as summer progresses, and the survey went well as so much is just a repeat of last month’s inventory of plants.

We agreed that since we are new to this kind of thing, that we would focus this year just upon flowering plants, and leave grasses, lichens, mosses, ferns and fungi out of our report for UWHG’s Whitfield Project 2010. This makes things much simpler, and allows us to give more attention to producing a good data set and photographic collection based on this smaller botanical survey.

I left the site early in the afternoon, leaving Alan waiting for the latest shower to pass so he could photograph the last of the flowers on his list for today.

The botanical survey will continue again next Wednesday.

Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archivist

Thursday, 12 August 2010

28. Wednesday 11th August 2010

It’s been a fortnight since we last on-site. If you want to know what we’ve been up to, then why not have a look at our blog for the Hartlington dig at : . Several members of UWHG have been on a thoroughly enjoyable week’s dig under the direction of David Johnson, at Hartlington, near Burnsall.

Now we’re back to Embsay again. Three of us arrived at Embsay Reservoir this morning to be greeted by a heavy downpour of rain – not what the weather forecast had promised at all. We sat in the car waiting for the dark clouds to roll on by, and eventually some blue (ish) patches appeared overhead, and we ventured out to continue our surveying.

Alan spent the day photographing various botanical specimens across the site, while Jane and Ruth started the morning by checking out a few more features of the old mill on the foreshore, making the most of the lowered water levels since the last proper field survey was done. However, we did notice that the water levels were not as low as they had been a couple of weeks ago.

Noticing that it is now the grouse shooting season, we made the most of being able to get on to the moorside before it is closed to public access. Jane spent the rest of the day starting the botanical survey for August, around the sheepwash and mill pond areas, while Ruth checked out the details of the Gazetteer of features, making sure we had all the features identified and numbered correctly on the moorside. Alan continued with his photography.

We had a leisurely lunch, despite the constantly changing weather – from hot and sunny to cold, overcast, drizzly and windy – and back again to hot and sunny. A small boy thought he’d found a good toy, and we spotted him just in time, marching cheerily off with one of our red flags, which had been set down to mark some fungi Alan was going to photograph after lunch. Poor little chap – we had to ask him to give it back. At the end of the day, the 3 of us met up at the bogbean pond, and sat down for a cup of tea, and a long discussion in which we put the world to rights.

Jane Lunnon

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

27.Wednesday 28th July 2010

With other people away on holiday, or busy with other projects, it was just me today – here to carry on with the botanical survey. The skies were grey all day, with intermittent drizzle and light showers all morning and well into the afternoon. I managed to cover about a third of the site on the Reservoir side of the wall, before I decided to go over to the moorside and see if the sundews were still flowering on the moorside. They weren’t but I did find a couple of white thistles which was rather nice. The bracken is now very high, and it will be impossible to finish off the field survey in this area for quite some time now. I continued the botanical surveying around a couple of the mill ponds,

About 2.30 the skies became very dark, and I decided it would be best to seek shelter in the car. As I reached the car park the heavens opened and it seemed a good time to go home.

Apparently Ruth was on her way through the rain, and drove up to the reservoir very shortly after I left. She had a quick look at the mill features on the foreshore, and checked out the water levels.

Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archivist.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

26. Wednesday 21 July 2010

We have been absent from Whitfield for a few weeks because we have been involved in the excavations of the Romano-British site at Chapel House Wood near Grassington (see our blog for the dig at:, an annual summer dig for many of us.

Three UWHG members returned to Whitfield today, having recovered from the aches and pains of digging, to monitor the water levels at Embsay Reservoir. We found even more of the foreshore exposed, revealing a little more of the stone foundations of the mill buildings and old field walls.

Low water levels at the reservoir reveal more of the mill site © Jane Lunnon

Alan spent much of the day taking the opportunity to take technical photographs of these rarely revealed features, while Ruth checked over some details of our gazetteer of features and drawings, to assess how much more work we need to do here. She also measured and drew in the features newly exposed on the edges of the reservoir.

Alan photographing mill site features uncovered by lowered water levels

© Jane Lunnon

Jane focused on the botanical survey, and started the July checklist of flowering plants around the site, with the invaluable aid of Heather Burrow.

We were very saddened to see that one of our favourite parts of the mill site has been unexpectedly robbed out and covered with gravel. At the eastern end of the long boardwalk footbridge, where the footpath reaches the mill site, there was formerly the clear foundation of a short but interesting section of a double skinned field wall – solidly built, it was one of the few remains still evident of the old field boundaries which once divided Embsay Pasture, and could be seen on the 1847 tithe map. It is now inexplicably gone, the large stones shoved to one side, as a sad remnant of Embsay’s history.

Jane Lunnon

Thursday, 1 July 2010

24. Wednesday 30 June 2010

Another very hot day with temperatures well in the 80’s! We have been so lucky with the weather, only having one wet Wednesday, since our delayed start.
Having finished the surveying of the sheep-wash area & the stream, David undertook a walk-over to investigate the western end of the field, being regularly interrupted by interested passers-by. It is getting very difficult to distinguish these ‘lumps and bumps’ now as the vegetation is getting so high.

Jane continued with her survey of the wild flowers, while Vera, Peter and Ruth completed a gazetteer of the area now exposed by the lowered water level of the reservoir.

Completing the gazetteer on the exposed foreshore © Jane Lunnon

Following a leisurely lunch, during which we chatted with curious walkers, and Peter lost his sandwiches to two eager dogs who quickly sneaked in behind him, work continued. Peter wore a different metaphorical hat as acting site photographer, photographing the exposed structures on the foreshore and in the cottage area. We were very excited to see the outlines of the cottage walls now showing up very clearly as scorch marks in the grass, after all the dry weather. Ruth continued to assist Jane in continuing to record more of the flora.

White foxglove © Jane Lunnon

At 4pm we all decided that we were too hot and exhausted to continue – all we needed was a shower and a long cold drink

Ruth Spencer, UWHG Chairman

Friday, 25 June 2010

23. Wednesday 24 June 2010

Another beautiful day.
David and Peter went over to the old sheepwash area to finish off the work they’ve been doing around here using the alidade. They completed the work by mid-afternoon.

The botanical surveying also continued today. This is a deceptively time-consuming job, as we scour the ground looking at each new flower, try to identify it, and map its distribution across the site. We managed to map about half the reservoir side – and we still haven’t done the moorside yet.

Mouse-ear chickweed © Jane Lunnon

Jane tried some macro photography, but as the afternoon progressed it became too windy and impossible to photograph flowers as they danced about in the breeze. Now that the grasses are coming up there will be a lot more to look at – identification of all these might take us quite a bit of time!

Geophysics on the mill site © Jane Lunnon

We were joined today by an archaeology post-graduate student and her colleague as she conducted her own geophysics survey of the mill site. Hopefully, her results will give us a little more information on the exact location of some of the buildings which are now completely invisible on the surface, and maybe the route of the mill-stream as it passes out of the mill-pond and apparently under the modern footpath.

Jane Lunnon, UWHG archivist

Sunday, 20 June 2010

22. Wednesday 16 June 2010.

With the archaeological field survey on hold for the summer, our attentions turned to the botanical survey of the Whitfield site. It was a perfect day for wandering around the reservoir area drawing up a checklist of flowers. The recent improvement in weather has resulted in an eruption of flowers across the site, and the distribution patterns show a remarkable difference from a week ago.

The distributions indicate that the site consists of many more mini-habitats than we had realised – the mill site itself showing how disturbance from the activities of the mill, cottages and reservoir construction has affected the ground in different ways.

Alan spent much of the day on macro photography of specific plants. Every now and then we could see a head popping up out of the hollows and behind embankments as he made precise adjustments to the camera or tripod.

Cuckoo flower © Alan Williams

So far we have found the variety of plants is not as wide as we anticipated, and what we are finding are mostly very common species found all over the Yorkshire Dales. But in a way, the typical nature of the plantlife here means that the area may be seen as a useful model for studies elsewhere.

Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archivist

Thursday, 3 June 2010

21. Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Sensing the end in sight, some team members were especially keen to complete the survey today, and we certainly had the perfect weather for it.
On-site discussion © Jane Lunnon

While some took the opportunity to discuss on-site the implications of some recent work by the Documentary Research Group, others made the most of the low water levels of the reservoir to survey features revealed on the foreshore. They made excellent progress and by the end of the day were happy to declare their section done.

Surveying on the foreshore © Jane Lunnon

In the meantime, the other team, having enjoyed an interesting discussion about the site, tidied up a few loose ends on their part of the survey drawings. Some work still remains for David using the alidade, and of course, if the water levels go down any more there may be more features to plot in. Next winter, we will also need to finish off the moorside survey.

However, the documentary research continues, as does the botanical survey. The flowers are now beginning to flourish all over the site, and will need to be recorded on a weekly basis for a couple of months or more. We also look forward to the arrival next week of a Masters student who will conducting a geophysics survey on the site. So there is still plenty to do over the summer.

Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archivist

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

20. Wednesday 26 May 2010

Normally we start our blogs talking about the weather, but this time I’ll come to that later.
With two of our team away on holiday, and another two on an excavation elsewhere, we were a little short of people today. Our photographer Alan will be most put out to know that another solitary bogbean flower has blossomed in one of the millponds, and he has missed his chance yet again to get a good photograph for the botanical survey.

Bogbean flower © Jane Lunnon

However, I hear he is thoroughly enjoying himself this week digging with our friends, the Ingleborough Archaeology Group, at their Mesolithic site at Kingsdale. (For more information about this exciting site see their website at; )

Vera was helping David with the alidade today over by the sheepwash and Moor Beck area, hoping to finish it off. Heather turned up to conduct her botanical survey – She wandered around inspecting the plantlife and we look forward to her report on the latest checklist of species.

Ruth and I also had high hopes of “tidying up” a few loose ends and completing the survey with just the final bits on the moorside to do in the winter (when the vegetation dies down), and the parts of the mill site which are currently underwater (which will hopefully be uncovered if the water levels go down this summer).

But of course, it didn’t work out that way – we didn’t get any base-line surveying done; we didn’t even get as far as putting the drawing board set up on the tripod. But, despite that, it certainly wasn’t a wasted day. Chris, from the project’s Documentary Research Group, came up to visit the site and discuss his findings with us. Looking closely at various old maps and plans, and combining his engineer’s approach with Ruth’s archaeological eye, we were able to walk carefully over the mill site looking closely at some of the surviving features, and coming up with new questions and observations. Luckily, the water levels have receded since last week, revealing a little more of the reservoir foreshore, so we were able to tie the maps up a little better than before with some of the features.

Ruth and Chris checking the site against old maps © Jane Lunnon

We even found some built walls where we had previously thought only rubble lay under the grass, and by inspecting some changes in wall structures were able to clarify some issues over the relative positions of two different building phases.

After Chris went home to revise his interim report on the site, Ruth and Jane had planned to start surveying in the afternoon. But as we settled down to lunch the skies became very gloomy and grey (here’s the obligatory weather report), and raindrops started to fall. So much for the heatwave we’ve been enjoying for the last few days. The breeze started up, bringing a chilly penetrating dampness straight across the water. We eventually agreed that by the time we’d set up our base tapes it would be time to pack up, and so took the decision to call it a day, as the rain threatened to set in for the afternoon.

Never mind, we can get back to it next week.

Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archivist

Monday, 24 May 2010

19. Wednesday 19 May 2010

It was a dull sky but warm and still today, with hardly any breeze. A perfect day for Alan’s flower photography and for the swirling flies which were attracted by our hi-vis jackets and bright white drawing boards. It’s quite distracting trying to work when flies are mating on your survey plans!

The botanical survey is taking up most of Alan’s time at the moment.

Alan preparing wild flowers for photography © Jane Lunnon

While Ruth tackled some particularly difficult hachuring, Jane and Vera spent some time plotting flower distribution patterns. We are surprised at the lack of a profusion of spring flowers compared to other places in the Dales, which leads us to wonder what this will tell us about the history of land use and management on the site.

We are now beginning to see the end of the survey almost in sight, at least for the reservoir side.
Jane recalls when her great grand uncle was in the 17th Lancers © Alan Williams

However, we do probably need one more session to tidy up some loose ends. Then we just need to wait for the water levels of the reservoir to go down so that we can survey any foundations of the mill which are currently under water. A small part of the old mill is already exposed although the water levels are still high. Pat, Phil and Peter gave this a priority to survey as we noticed some vandalism to the site has taken place very recently, certainly within the last few days. We shall be fervently wishing for a dry summer this year, so that the rest of the old mill’s foundations are exposed – and hopefully we can get there before the vandals.

In the meantime, Peter did his best to carry out some underwater archaeology.

Peter's version of underwater archaeology © Jane Lunnon

And there are still some bits to do on the moorside when the vegetation dies down in winter.

Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archvist

Thursday, 13 May 2010

18. Wednesday 12 May 2010

Yet again we were working in changeable weather conditions – one moment it was hot, and the next, bitingly cold. There were even a few hailstones.

Determined to complete the planning of the mill pond, Jane, Ruth and Vera laid out a square of base tapes to work within. For a second week running we found that a person or persons unknown had sought out one of our fixed point markers and removed it – we have carefully made these as small and unobtrusive as possible, well away from the footpaths, so this was certainly a deliberate act. What a shame these people have such meaningless lives that this is how they need to fill their time.

It was a long day but Ruth, Jane and Vera managed to measure up and draw the mill pond embankment, with just the hachuring to complete next week.

Hang on Vera! © Jane Lunnon

David and Peter worked with the alidade around Washfold Hill and the sheepwash bridge area to finish off there.

Alan continued his photographic survey of both archaeological and botanical features. With spring in the air he managed to capture some of the local invertebrate fauna as well, as they start to busy themselves among the emerging flowers.

© Alan Williams

At the moment the flowers are proving quite elusive – but with the weather expected to pick up soon, we expect a sudden burst of growth is imminent, which should keep our photographer occupied for a few weeks.

Chris Lunnon, from the project’s documentary research group, turned up in the afternoon to conduct a study of the trees around the mill site. Using Forestry Commission guidelines, he is calculating the approximate ages of the trees, and hopes to determine whether they pre-date the mil pond and/or the reservoir. He also investigated the area of the area we know as the wheel-pit. Having looked at documents on the history of the mill, he is questioning the function of this pit.

Again, quite a few passers-by (and their dogs!) expressed curiosity about our work, and one local resident told us how as recently as the 1990s she remembered herbal plants growing here, as a reminder of the mill workers’ cottage gardens. Sadly, all traces of the garden plants have now disappeared – the question we need to ask is, why, having survived nearly 100 years, have these plants completely gone within the last decade or so?

Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archivist

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

17. Wednesday, 5 May 2010

The day started off with our now well rehearsed routine of manhandling what appears to be an ever increasing amount of equipment, to our “base camp” on the west side of the mission building. Then setting out baselines and warning notices and covering the site with coloured flags.

Vera practices some line dancing - or is it break-dancing? - during the coffee break

©Jane Lunnon

We then split up into 3 (and a bit) teams with David, fresh from his Caribbean adventures, and Peter setting of to the sheep wash area with the trusty alidade.

Ruth, Jane and Vera then continued to survey the area around the lower mill pond and associated wheel pit.

Phil and Pat concentrated their efforts to the east of the mission building. Recording the building itself as well as the mounds to the east, one of which has a small wall or revetting at its base, so maybe this is more than just demolition material. They then moved down to nearer the water's edge and surveyed the wall with the intriguing door in it, visible from the shore footpath.

Spring has arrived at last - a dog violet in the old Mill wheel-pit

© Alan Williams

Alan continued to photograph both the archaeology and the increasing numbers of wild flowers as part of the botanical survey.

Another productive day and again the weather was kind to us.
Alan Williams, UWHG webmaster

Saturday, 1 May 2010

16. Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Another sunny Spring day and the Whitfield Sike survey continued.

Alan spent a lot of the day on his knees, taking close up photographs of various plants for the botanical survey. Spring has definitely arrived.

Alan pays attention to the minutest detail © Jane Lunnon

Ruth, Jane and Vera continued with the survey of the millpond. Phil, Peter and Pat (and Alan when he wasn’t involved in photography) made rapid progress on surveying the area to the west of the mission building and by the end of the day had declared themselves to have almost finished that area.

Over lunch, Jane showed us a fascinating document about the mill’s history, which really brought to life some of the working conditions there in the nineteenth century. There was some discussion about the implications of the answers the mill owner gave to the Factory Commissioners in 1833, the census returns, and contemporary newspaper advertisements when the mill was sold in the 19th Century. This is all fascinating and we look forward to presenting these findings in our final report and information leaflets and displays at the end of the project.

© Alan Williams

The photo above shows the windows of some of the mill workers’ cottages, incorporated into the boundary wall.
Several passers-by asked us questions - it's good to know there's such interest in the project.

Vera Breary, Field Survey Volunteer

Saturday, 24 April 2010

15. April 21 2010

On a glorious sunny but very chilly day the team gathered again at the Whitfield Sike to continue the field survey. The nesting season having begun, we have now abandoned the moorside for the spring season, and have transferred our attention to the reservoir side.

The team compares old photographs to the present day view © Jane Lunnon

Peter brought along some copies of photographs taken at the turn of the century and we were able to pinpoint the exact location they were taken, which gave us another perspective on the relative positions of the Mission building and cottage gardens.

Pat's team started on the boundary wall and northern area to the west of the Mission building, and then drew up the east bank of the mill pond as an overlap with the plans being drawn up by Ruth's team of the mill pond.

Marker flags show the top and bottom of the mill pond embankment

© Jane Lunnon

Vera took on drawing for her first time, and picked it up very quickly. Ruth drew the short straw and took the measurements from the base tape which Phil had conveniently run over the boggy marsh at the bottom of the mill pond embankment. She only actually fell over into the stagnant, smelly marsh once, though!

Ruth & Vera surveying the bottom edge of the embankment

© Jane Lunnon

Quite a few walkers ambled by, looking curiously at the strange goings-on, but few were brave enough to ask us what on earth we were up to, although we did put up notices explaining we were carrying out an archaeological survey.

Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archivist

Monday, 19 April 2010

14. Wednesday 14 April 2010

Another lovely spring day, but with a little too much wind for comfortable surveying! However 8 dedicated members set forth, on our last day working on the moorside to the north of the boundary wall. The nesting season is upon us, so from next week we must move to the reservoir side.
We were delighted to welcome Roger with the dGPS to plot in our marker points.

Roger at work ( © Alan Williams)

He and Alan set off up the hill-side, not to be seen again until the afternoon, when all points were recorded. Peter was delighted to see these very closely confirmed the recordings taken with his super- duper hand-held GPS!
Alison, as always, wandered off to closely inspect the walls and sledruns, joining us for lunch and very excited about her discoveries. We really look forward to her report in due course, which should throw a whole new light upon the landscape history of this area.

Checking a marker point ( © Alan Williams)

The remaining six volunteers divided into two teams – Pat, Phil and Peter took to the hills to finalise the area of the upper ponds and their tributaries. Jane, Vera and Ruth continued with the lower pond – what a challenging area this is! However we finished the area to the east which only leaves the western end for some future date, when the nesting season is over.

And this before the vegetation grows back! ( © Alan Williams)

The wind, as suspected was indeed a challenge, with the tapes resonating wildly, especially on the hillside, and drawing equipment scattering far and wide. We eventually found the ranging poles made an excellent barrier fence to hold the tapes in place!

Vera - new to surveying, enthusiastic - and still smiling! ( © Alan Williams)

Apart from the sheep-wash area and the western end of the ‘bog-bean ‘pond, we have now finished the northern area, as far as we wish to go at present. Next week we will make a start on the actual mill site itself, south of the wall.

Ruth Spencer, UWHG Chairman

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

13. April 7th-9th 2010

Three members of the Whitfield Project's documentary research group (Jane and Chris Lunnon, Ruth Spencer) spent 3 days in the archives room at Chatsworth House, the Derbyshire home of the Duke of Devonshire, last week. As Embsay has been part of the Devonshire estate for several centuries, we knew there would be some interesting material here, and we certainly were not disappointed. We were able to scrutinise a large number of documents, mainly from the late 16th to mid 18th Century. Although there was no reference in any of the documents to the cotton mill at Whitfield (not built until the 1790s), what we did find were numerous documents relating to the site on which the mill was built - we are now beginning to build a detailed picture of the land use and land ownership patterns of Embsay pasture (in which the reservoir now stands), and the nature of the common rights to the moorland above.
There will now be some even more intense working on the material as we start to go through the copies, and our notes, at home. This may take several months, as we wish to go through the material with a fine tooth-comb, and some of the documents are very difficult to read!

We worked so intensely on the archival material, that we had no time to explore the great house of Chatsworth itself, or the gardens. We were only able to venture out to the teashop at lunchtime and for afternoon tea. But the views as we climbed the hill to the teashop, and came back down again, were lovely. The house is in such a wonderful setting.

Many thanks go to Stuart Band, the archivist at Chatsworth, and his colleagues - they were extremely helpful and friendly, and made our time here very enjoyable indeed. In fact, we found all the staff at the house and in the grounds very welcoming.

We now have a wonderful resource to help us trace the history of the parish right back into the late Tudor period. There is plenty more to explore in the archives, and we are looking forward to going back for more research some time soon.
Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archivist

Thursday, 1 April 2010

12. Saturday 27th March 2010

The weather was overcast but remained dry for which we were thankful. Our second working Saturday saw a depleted survey team with just five workers
Ruth co-opted Sue and Helen S for her west survey team and continued with this area which has the greatest concentration of features to record.

© Pat Carroll

Both David and Pat had completed their initial survey areas on Wednesday so Pat and Phil moved up the hillside to work on the highest of the dams, they completed the dam but only managed part of the stream feeding it and none of the outlet.
Ruth was working near the path and had to answer the queries of the many interested walkers so her progress was a little slower.
The last few work sessions have been accompanied by a surprising loud and almost continuous sound of the frogs but today we worked in silence except for the occasional honk of a goose. No croaks, no beady eyes watching us from the surface of the water, the frogs have moved on!

Pat Carroll, UWHG Secretary & Treasurer

Thursday, 25 March 2010

11. Wednesday 23 March 2010

It was a bit of a murky morning, but that didn’t deter our newest UWHG member, Vera, who thoroughly enjoyed her first day out field surveying.

Despite the slightly grey day, spring is clearly on its way, as the frogs were very active in all the streams and ponds (as only frogs can be!), and there are an increasing number of walkers, who are naturally very curious about this little army of people wandering around in hi-vis jackets wielding tapes and clipboards.

We continued the measuring and drawing of the mill ponds and water systems on the moorside. There’s still a lot to do, but it’s starting to all come together.

Alan and Phil spent some time on the Embsay Reservoir side of the boundary wall in order to set up a base line for when we leave the moorside. We only have a short time left before the grouse nesting season begins, and we will need to leave the moorside in peace.

We had two finds today – a piece of a clay pipe bowl which was obviously made from a mould; and a rusty old car horn from the early 20th Century, which was blocking one of the culverted streams.

Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archivist

Sunday, 21 March 2010

10. Saturday 13 March 2010

An extra day for those people who are unable to come on a Wednesday and also to help to make up for the days lost due to the snow earlier in the year. So, a small but select band of 7 set forth on another pleasant spring day.
We also had the pleasure of the company of Kathryn – an archaeology graduate from Bradford University who is contemplating the possibility of using the Whitfield site for her dissertation for her M. A.
We separated in 3 teams of 2 with Phil taking Kathryn on a tour of the site. Work progressed, accompanied by what sounded like the roar of distant motorbikes, which we eventually realised was the croaking of a great number of frogs/toads frolicking in the ponds - spring has come!
Another enjoyable picnic in the sun (Ruth nearly lost her sandwiches to a very interested and obviously hungry dog!) and with a slight adjustment of teams, as two people had to leave early, work resumed for the afternoon.
Again we were pleased with our progress – David’s team made great strides with the big mill pond, Pat’s team completed their area of the lower pond and Ruth’s team managed to record the southern bank of the ‘Bog-bean’ pond without anyone falling into the water!
The two members who had not surveyed before said they had enjoyed the day and asked when are we going to do another Saturday?!

Ruth Spencer, UWHG Chairman

Thursday, 11 March 2010

9. Wednesday 10 March 2010

It was a beautiful morning – clear blue skies and just a slight, fresh breeze. As some of our team were at a meeting elsewhere, it was a smaller number of volunteers who turned up this morning. But we managed to get quite a bit done – David continued working on the largest of the mill ponds on the moorside, using the alidade.

Alison made a close inspection of the walls around the Whitfield site, and wandered up the moorside alongside Crookrise Crag – she returned full of enthusiasm and lots of questions about clues she found to the richness of the industrial landscape of the area. With her sharp eye she is already piecing together the clues regarding the stone quarrying, the sled runs, and the development of the boundary walls.

Janis investigated the hollows on the moorside to the north east of our site, and agreed they were probably potash kilns.

Surveying continued as we focused on the water courses and possible sled runs to the west side of the old mill ponds.
We enjoyed a leisurely lunch, entertained by the toads who were venturing out into the spring sunshine. There is already a lot of frog spawn in the mill ponds.

In the afternoon we made a start on the surveying of the embankment of the westernmost mill pond.

Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archivist

Sunday, 7 March 2010

8. 3 March 2010

Field Survey

At last a more promising day with no snow and a good, if somewhat chilly forecast – we could really make a start on the surveying!

© Jane Lunnon

Having discussed the plan of campaign, David and Helen Mc. set off with the alidade to survey the banks of the largest mill pond. Ruth, Jane & Peter opted for the area to the west of the site; and Pat & Helen S. took the area to the east; Phil to act as co-ordinator.
Progress was slow to start, with various interruptions - as expected much interest was shown by passers-by, including a welcome visit from the local farmer’s wife; less welcome were the teething problems with the new tripod which gave us a wobbly drawing board – “Where did we put those spare washers for safe keeping?”; and an interesting compass needle which followed both Jane & Ruth around! However at last we were under way and suddenly it was lunch-time.
Sandwiches were eaten in a sheltered hollow by the wall, sitting in the sunshine and with all those thermals on, one could imagine it was summer (well, almost!).
The afternoon saw some re-adjustment of the teams as Helen S. had to leave early and Helen Mc. didn’t fancy sliding down the steep bank into the pond!

© Phil Carroll

Three o’clock arrived all too quickly, but we all felt we had had a good first day. Both teams had succeeded in plotting in the wall and path and David had made good progress on the alidade with the big pond – fingers crossed for next week!

© Jane Lunnon

Documentary Research
The same evening 6 of the Documentary Research team met for a palaeography workshop. Jane had prepared various scripts for us all to transcribe collectively, and under her patient tuition and fortified with tea/coffee and biscuits, we were all surprised how quickly we improved. We were also delighted how much easier the peculiarities of the scripts were to decipher, with practice. We all took copies of several documents home with us for further practice – will it be as easy on one’s own as it was with help from everybody else, I wonder!

Ruth Spencer, UWHG Chairman

Sunday, 28 February 2010

7. Field survey – 24 Feb

Whitfield Sike Mill lost in the cold February mist

It snowed last night so there was little point in starting our field drawings today – we took a day off and stayed warm!

Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archivist

6. Documentary Research Group – 17 Feb

This evening the Group met for their second meeting. The prospects for a long-term historical study of the parish are good, and individuals within the group are beginning to pool some interesting ideas on how the project can develop once the field survey is finished. We followed with a short introduction to palaeography. Jane ran a short workshop to help everyone “get their eye in” to reading old handwriting, and of course, set some homework!

Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archivist

5. Field survey - 17th Feb

Determined to complete the gazetteer that we started last week, our team of volunteers split into two groups – one went back onto the moorside to sort out some queries and make sure nothing had been missed.
The Moor side team in hi-vis jackets set off into the mist....
The other group kept to the Reservoir side of the site, where much of the Mill once stood. We compiled a similar gazetteer of features – walls, concrete floors, rubble mounds, the mill dam, the pit (possibly a sluice or wheel pit), and even a garden path.

The Mill side team survey remains of the old Mill at the side of the Reservoir

The weather was kinder to us this week. Nevertheless the freezing temperatures finally got the better of us and we adjourned again to the Elm Tree. Happily we had virtually finished on both sides of the wall and were pleased with our efforts.

Boz: "So when do we go on a PROPER walk, then?"

Jane lunnon, UWHG archivist

4. Field survey - 10 February 2010

Having been frustrated so many times by the cold weather conditions throughout January, at last the weather forecast promised today was a good day to start the field survey proper. Volunteers met in the car park at Embsay Reservoir, and despite the freezing cold we bravely set off up the bridle track towards the Mill site. A light dusting of snow on the ground made it all look rather pretty, and on a more practical level, helped to highlight the earthworks around the former mill ponds. We spent about 3 hours drawing up a gazetteer of man-made features we identified in the landscape on the Moor side, giving each a unique reference number, and roughly plotting them on a map of the area. The snow and the wind came and went – every now and then the skies cleared and the sun came out, and just as we thought it was turning out to be a nice day, back came the snow and grey skies. Eventually as Embsay Crag disappeared under a thick blanket of fog, we decided enough was enough, and made our way back to the Elm Tree pub to thaw out.

Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archivist

3. Documentary Research gets underway – December 2009

The Documentary Research group have already made several visits to archives and record offices across Yorkshire – documents relating to Embsay are scattered surprisingly widely, partly because the parish used to lie within the West Riding of Yorkshire, but was later incorporated into the county of North Yorkshire. So far we have found relevant documents in archives at Skipton, Leeds, Bradford, Northallerton, Halifax and Wakefield. In tracking down these documents we have found the A2A online catalogue the National Archives Access to Archives; see ) extremely helpful as a starting point.

So far, the majority of the documents we have come across are from the early modern period – that is, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries – although we have also come across printed transcripts of earlier sources such as the Poll Tax of 1379. For the most part, the primary sources are providing us with a mass of data on property owners through several centuries of Embsay’s history.

We are also working on the parish registers, a copy of the tithe map of 1847 and references to the parish in the local newspaper, The Craven Herald and Pioneer (which takes us back to 1855).

Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archivist

2. Setting up the Doc Research Group – September 2009

In order to inform the field survey which was planned to begin in the New Year 2010, the Documentary Research Group was established in the autumn of 2009. Local Embsay residents were invited to join us for this, and a small but enthusiastic group formed, which is now very actively engaged in gathering a wide range of primary sources which may help us to better understand the history of the Whitfield Mill, and the development of industrial activity within the village, as well as up on the moor above.

On 29 September 2009, the new group made an exploratory walk around the Whitfield Mill site. We found plenty to think about, and several questions and issues were raised about the Mill, the development of the village and the impact of human activity on the landscape.

Our interest lies in the history of this area before 1900. Ten years ago a very comprehensive project was carried out by another local group who produced a range of resources to celebrate the Millennium, in which they traced the history of the parish during the Twentieth century. The results of this fascinating work can be seen in copies of their files now held at the Skipton Public Reference Library, including Monika Butler’s detailed account of the building of Embsay Reservoir at the beginning of the century (1900-1910).

Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archivist