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