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