Athersley (Barnsley)

The Dig

This was our final session. We were luck y that it coincided with the Hands-On Atherlsey project field fortnight. Chris Scurfield and his team came to the Athersley North centre and we opened up 3 test pits 1mx1m. The area had previously been an area of woodland and the centre was located near one of the paths. We were not expecting to find much but we did find glass bottles, pieces of copper pipe and best of all a small matchbox toy.

A small matchbox toy truck caused much delight

A small matchbox toy truck caused much delight

The digging team.

The digging team.

We dug in the morning and then washed the finds after lunch and recorded the sections.

We then presented the group with their certificates.

A huge thank you to Chris and his team for making this experience possible.

 The field visits

We have had a great 4 weeks of field visits. The first visit was to Wentworth Woodhouse to find out how John Carr who lived in  New Lodge had influence its architecture. We discovered he had designed the marble staircase and the stable block. Despite torrential rain the group really enjoyed looking at the different rooms especially the marble hall and the Stafford Bedroom.

 

The John Carr connection. He designed the stable block at Wentworth and lived in New Lodge

The John Carr connection. He designed the stable block at Wentworth and lived in New Lodge

Understanding the layout of the house with guide David

Understanding the layout of the house with guide David

 

Our second week we went to Heeley City farm and met with the Sheffield Deaf Group to help build the roundhouse and try some experimental mental working. The group found the bellows fascinating and that they required a lot of co-ordination. Everyone had a go with some bag bellows as would have been used in the bronze age and then the roman bellows which were much easier. A huge thank you to Giovanna for setting this part if the day up. After lunch the group went on to build the roundhouse and we discussed what they thought it would be like to live in it. Not all the group thought that they would have enjoyed making it with animal dung.

Building the round house

Building the round house

Making Daub

Making Daub

Using bag bellows

Using bag bellows

Week 3 took us to Silkstone to look at the Waggonway  and the church. Colin showed us where the rails were set into stone sets near to the pot house hamlet and brought some half scale rails to show the students what they would have looked like. We then went up to look at some of the artefacts found near the Waggonway and on display at the church. The church is open as a heritage centre twice a week and thanks to the East Peak Partnership has some fantastic displays.

Don took on a tour of the church and the students were very moved by the window designed as a memorial to the children who died in the Huskar Pit disaster of the 4th July 1838.

Exploring Silkstone Church

Exploring Silkstone Church

After lunch we were shown the graveyard by Steve who showed us the Huskar memorial as well as several other interesting graves from the 17th century up to the graves of service men who died in World War One. A huge thank you to all involved in making the history of Silkstone so accessible. The group had an amazing time.

This week we visited Monk Bretton Priory but unfortunately the site was locked on arrival and EH could not unlock it. Not to be down hearted the students made the most of what we could see through the gate and over the wall.

We had a picnic and the students then spotted plaques in the ground telling the history of Monk Bretton.

Plagues in the park described the industries of Barnsley. This one explains about the manufacture of Cobb bottles.

Plaques in the park described the industries of Barnsley. This one explains about the manufacture of Cobb bottles.

We are all looking forward to the ‘dig’ at the centre next week.

Week 9:

We looked at all the sites we will be visiting over the next few weeks and caught up on our scrap books. The students are very excited but the visits and hope to find out lots more about the history of the area.

Week 8:

We were invited to the University of Sheffield to the archaeology bone labs to find out all about the human skeleton and human evolution. Vanessa gave us a brilliant idea of what evolution is and how it works and we were able to compare lots of different skulls. Afterwards Liz helped us to put together a human skeleton and then we had a go at doing our own facial reconstructions.

We also got a tour of the animal bone labs and saw a huge skeleton of a cow and a whale’s head.

A huge thank you to all the staff in the department who made this possible. The students are still talking about it.

Week 7:

We visited Barnsley Museum to find out more about the industries we had talked about last week. The group completed an I spy around the museum and  the group were fascinated by the exhibition on the miners strike.

Week 6:

We looked at Barnsley Industries- Mining, textiles, tin boxes and glass making.

Week 5:

We made some fabulous posters of our walk today and Christine from Elmet came in to tell us about a project happening in Athersley that we can get involved in the summer. We might even get our own test pit.

 

Week 4:

This week we went for a walk around Athersley to find out about its past. Athersley is quite a new development, land having been purchased by Barnsley Council in 1947. The oldest remaining building is that of New Lodge, Built for John Carr, architect in the late 18th century. This replaced an earlier medieval building known as the Grange which fell under the jurisdiction of Monk Bretton priory until its dissolution.

John Carr's House

John Carr’s House

We also visited St Helen’s church on Laithes Lane. This was built in 1954 but the decoration inside comes from an earlier period. The organ dates from 1888 whilst the font has 1713 carved on it.

Font dated 1713

Font dated 1713

We also looked at other interesting features such as the Post Box which has ERII on it so we know it dates from 1952/3 and some bricks in a wall that had been knocked down which says they are London Bricks.

Post Box

Post Box

Bricks

Bricks

The group really enjoyed their walk and looking at the inside of the church in more detail.

Week 3: Maps and Mapping

Today we looked at maps. The students started off by trying to decode a map by looking for key symbols such as roads, rivers, footpaths contours, woods, and churches. We then also tried to find the post office, school and library.

We also looked at the old maps of Athersley to see how it had changed from a single house, New Lodge in 1850 to a large housing estate in 1950s and how the railways the collieries had come and gone.

Having looked at other peoples maps we then made our own. Some students tried to draw places they knew, others made maps up. Some drew the map in 2D others in 3D adding buses, trains and shop frontages. We then made sure everyone put a key on their map and shared the maps with the group.

Student Map with rivers, roads and woodland clearly marked

Looking at old maps of Athersley

Finally we talked about our walk around Athersley next week and made a map to show us where to go and what the dangers were going to be.

Week 2: Timelines and Dating

The grip this week started off by looking at how we order things. We talked about  how archaeology built up over time a bit like throwing your rubbish into a dustbin. The group drew their own dustbin and then added the days of the week. Monday at the bottom, right through to Sunday at the top.

Learners drew dustbins in their books before adding rubbish from days of week

Learners drew dustbins in their books before adding rubbish from days of week

The students then made a timeline and we looked at the types of artefacts that might be found from each period. The students were very good at making suggestions such as coins, glass, bone, stone.

They added examples of artefacts to their timelines.

A time line

A time line

Having talked about the different time periods we also looked at how archaeologists date artefacts. Some of the students knew about c outing tree rings. Every one worked really hard at working out how old the tree from the sample. We estimated it was between 68 and 72 years old.

Examining the tree sample

Examining the tree sample

We also looked at relative dating. Firstly putting 5 cars in order and then 5 pots. The group found the cars much easier.

Week 1 – What is Archaeology?

12 enthusiastic learners started out on their archaeological journey today. We discussed what they knew about archaeology already and they group decided it was about “old things”, “people” and “pottery”. We also had a discussion about why we should bother with archaeology. The group all agreed it was important as we could “find out about our past”, “Find out about the Romans”, ” it could tell us about Barnsley” and that things from the past “go to museums”. The group then looked at the different jobs of an arcaheologist to emphasis it is not all about digging and tools an archaeologist uses.

The group selection tools for their archaeologist

The group selection tools for their archaeologist

 

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