The celebration event for the Huddersfield archaeology group was held on the 31st July at the Packhorse Gallery. The event provided those completing the course with a chance to reflect on the past ten weeks and share their achievements with each other. It was also an opportunity for others interested in joining the next group to come along and see some of the work produced. Nicola Thorpe, project worker for the Inclusive Archaeology Project was very keen to see all the work and talk to members of the group. Similarly representatives of S2R attended and were interested to see the progress and enthusiasm of the group. Rose Farrar, course organiser, also came to find out more about the group and what they had done during the project.
The certificates were awarded by the course tutor Sarah Holland and everyone congratulated on their achievements. For many it was the first certificate they had ever received, and there was a great sense of pride amongst the group. Everyone also took their portfolios with them, which were bulging with all the work they had done during the course.
Over refreshments we discussed our favourite things about the visits we had been on. The trip to Doncaster Museum and the enthusiasm of Museum Education Officer Alan Hall was a particular highlight, as was the opportunity to have a go at processing the textiles at the Colne Valley Museum at Golcar. The group also liked the opportunity to find out more about buildings and archaeological sites that they were more familiar with, such as buildings in Huddersfield, Beaumont Park and Kirstall Abbey. The overall verdict of the visits was that each one had provided something of interest and intrigue. The group had also put together a small exhibition of photos and maps of places they had visited.
The group were very keen to share their experiences with other people and so have added their comments:-
“I’ve really enjoyed the course, especially going round different places and seeing different things that I hadn’t noticed before”
“Opportunity to learn a little about archaeology, visiting museums, castles and abbey ruins and working as a team”
“I particularly enjoyed the visit to the Colne Valley Museum. The cottages were equipped with the standard household items of 1845. I thought that I could relate to the people who lived in these cottages. It was all very realistic – these were the days of hard work”
“I found the Roman archaeology the most interesting, the things they brought to this country”
“the supportive course environment encouraged group members to share their knowledge of local history and buildings”
“I’m noticing more about the buildings in my local area, design and age”
“I’ve enjoyed going on trips with a purpose”
“It is a really good course and I am happy to be one of the lucky few to participate. Thank you.”
As tutor of the course, teaching on the project again has been a very positive experience, accompanying the group on their exciting learning journey. The enthusiasm and interest of the group have been apparent throughout, many of whom want to partake in a follow up course.
Thanks go to Victoria Beauchamp, project worker, for all her support during the course; the staff at S2R, especially Liz for all her enthusiasm and encouragement; Hannah, our very knowledgeable and capable volunteer; and all the staff at the museums and archaeological sites we visited for making us so welcome.
Colne Valley Museum
For the penultimate session of this project, the Huddersfield group ventured back in time to experience life before the large woollen mills that came to dominate the Huddersfield district. Colne Valley Museum is run by volunteers and is housed in three weavers’ cottagers built by the Pearson family. They are a distinctive feature of Golcar, with three storeys to the stone cottages on one side and just the one on the other. The ground floor was for domestic living and has been recreated as living room and a wash room, the hearth being the central feature of domestic life. The archaeology group were particularly interested in the building, and identifying weavers’ cottages from their windows and the wuzzing stone!
They were also very interested to find out more about the hand processes for textiles prior to the great mills. The whole family was occupied in producing the cloth and we had a go at some of the stages. The wuzzing stone was used to dry the wool after washing through the process of centrifugal force – we were careful not to get wet as it spun round. Inside the cottages we experienced spinning and weaving – to begin with we combed the wool using authentic tools – based on the teasel. This prepared the wool for spinning, which was then demonstrated to us. It was fascinating to learn that the spinning wheel was a development of spinning processes used in prehistoric times – the group learnt exactly how the small Roman artefact they had seen at Doncaster would actually have been used to spin wool.
The development of the weaving process was also demonstrated to us. As new machinery was invented, buildings had to be adapted to accommodate it – the group said they would look out for evidence of weavers’ cottages having been heightened when they go walking.
There was plenty of opportunities for the group to explore and ask questions. The clog shop generated quite a bit of interest, as did the visit to nearby church in Golcar where the group explored different parts of the building. The volunteers at the museum were exceptionally enthusiastic and informative, ensuring we had a great visit. The group enjoyed their visit, and everyone is really looking forward to the celebration event next week.
Pontefract Castle visit
Pontefract was bathed in sunshine as we embarked upon our quest to find out more about the history and archaeology of the town.
As we walked from Pontefract Monkhill station down the hill we used the landscape archaeology skills we had acquired at an earlier session to locate the castle site.
Before heading to the castle itself we were intrigued by two other archaeological sites – the parish church and the old Saxon church.
The parish church was a fascinating archaeological puzzle for us to decipher – the remains of the old medieval church that was destroyed in the Civil War still stand in a ruinous state. This provided us with an indication of the scale of the church and the architectural details such as windows and arches. The tower and transepts had been rebuilt in about 1830, and then the nave was rebuilt in 1967.
Around the edge of the church yard were the old gravestones – they told such interesting stories of the people who had lived and worked in Pontefract.
Across the road we examined the archaeological traces of the much smaller Saxon church and its location.
Then we climbed the remainder of the hill to the castle site. After a lunch break, we were rejuvenated and enjoyed exploring Pontefract Castle. Like the parish church, the castle had suffered a lot of damage in the Civil War. Nevertheless it was possible to piece together the story of the castle from the remains. The view from the top of the motte where the remains of the keep stand was spectacular. We were also very interested in the bake house and kitchen area – the stone around the ovens and fires had turned pink because of the heat. There were also two chapels within the castle site – the Norman and Elizabethan chapels.
It had been a very hot day, but well worth venturing out to discover more about Pontefract through its archaeological remains.
Visit to Kirkstall Abbey
The group enjoyed their visit to Kirkstall Abbey where they discovered how to investigate the archaeological remains of an abbey site. After a brief introduction to Kirkstall Abbey and the monks that lived and worshipped there, the group began their investigation. They located the different parts of the abbey site and discovered what they were used for. This included a tour of the lay brothers’ quarters, the cloisters, the kitchens and dining room, the warming room, the monks quarters, the Abbott’s House, the infirmary and the abbey church. It was fascinating to peel back the layers of history and understand the ruins, including how the Victorians had restored parts of the abbey site. We also had a go at sketching details from the site, such as columns and arches. The vaulting in the chapter house and the scale of the abbey church really impressed us. At the end of our visit, the group felt like they had been very successful archaeological detectives.
Here’s what the group said about the visit:-
“Very interesting – was surprised at the size of the place – so much effort must have been put into building it”
“An interesting exercise into deducing what was here from present remains”
“More to it than I thought, like a village or small town, with infirmary, kitchens, gardens to grow their own food”
“Very interesting – have been before, but have learnt so much more today”
“An unusual site because the Victorians did so much restoration – an archaeological jigsaw puzzle”
“Interesting to find out how monks lived and how the Abbott had better quarters than the other monks”
“As Project Worker ( VB) I was lucky enough to join the group at Kirkstall Abbey. This is a fascinating site and I was really surprised to see how much of the building still remain. Set in a public park and offering free access, it is real bonus so close to Leeds.”
The monastery is Cisterian, founded in 1152 and the layout of the cloisters, church and dormitories is clear to see. The group were really interested in the buildings and how they were constructed. They were very observant at noticing changes and puzzling over the order in which the buildings had been constructed and altered over time. Sarah pointed out that here the living was communal rather than at Mount Grace, a Carthusian priory, where the monks had individual cells.
Session 6: Maps and Recording Buildings
The focus of session six was examining old maps of Huddersfield and then going onto the streets of Huddersfield to record buildings.
In the morning, we began by discussing how archaeologists use old maps. The group entered into an interesting discussion about how maps showed change over time and were useful for identifying buildings that were no longer there. After a brief introduction to the Ordnance Survey maps and the different scales they used, the group was soon absorbed in the large scale maps of Huddersfield. They made some really interesting observations and asking probing questions in order to find out more.
After lunch, we headed onto the streets of Huddersfield to record buildings in two parts of the town that our map work had focused upon – the old market place and Cloth Hall Street. In the old market place we recorded the old market cross, Victorian banks and arcades, and shops. Leading off the market place stands the modern Packhorse Shopping Centre. On the old maps this was the Packhorse Inn and Yard – it was interesting to trace the alignment of the old buildings in the townscape today. Some of the buildings had the same use now as in the past, such as the large Victorian banks. Recording the buildings in words and pictures encouraged the group to take a closer look at buildings that they thought they were familiar with. They were soon observing details and clues that they had not seen before – including the old entrance to the Boot and Shoe Hotel, which was on the maps, but is now a modern takeaway on the ground level. Cloth Hall Street once led to the impressive circular Cloth Hall, where a supermarket now stands. The buildings along this street were a mix of old and new. The group focused on interwar shops and pubs and even modern banks and offices.
Inspired to find out even more, the group requested that we visited the local studies library – they particularly wanted to see where the trade directories were kept, so they could find out more about the people who lived and worked in Huddersfield and the businesses that occupied the buildings and streets they had been looking at on the maps and recording in the afternoon. Everyone enjoyed finding out more about the town where they live, and will be ‘looking up’ more now when they are in town next.
Session 5 – From the Romans to the Railways – Our Visit to Doncaster
The archaeology group from Huddersfield set off in search of the archaeological story of Doncaster. Arriving by train, the group noticed the old brick workshops and discovered that Doncaster was famous for building locomotives such as Mallard and Flying Scotsman. We then walked towards Doncaster Minster and looked for clues for what date the parish church was built – some of the architectural clues were a bit deceptive as the church was rebuilt in the Neo-Gothic style after a fire in 1853 in the nineteenth century after a fire destroyed the old medieval church. After exploring the church inside and outside, the group began to metaphorically peel back the archeological layers of this part of Doncaster. The parish church had been built on the site of the roman fort in Doncaster. Not much evidence for the fort survives above ground but we were able to see a section of wall and use a map to understand the part of the fort we were standing next to. It was at this stage that the group had an interesting discussion about redevelopment in towns and cities and the destruction this can cause to archaeology.
To find out more about the Roman archaeology of Doncaster and to see some of the Roman artefacts the group had booked a session at Doncaster Museum.
On route to the museum, the group stopped to have lunch in the market place where they used old photos and drawings to build up a picture of the development of the are, from the medieval church that once stood there to the present Corn Exchange built in 1873.
Once at the Museum, education officer Alan Hall enthralled the group with his tales of roman Doncaster. The group particularly enjoyed and benefitted from being able to handle genuine roman artefacts found in the Doncaster area. This formed the basis of discussions about life in roman times and how much things have changed. Some of the group even tried on roman armour only to discover just how heavy it was! Everyone chose their favourite object too.
The session was an effective way to demonstrate how towns and archaeological sites on the one hand and museums and artefacts on the other work in partnership to convey fascinating archaeological stories.
New group begins
A new group has begun their archaeological adventure with the WEA Inclusive Archaeology Project. S2R, a mental health charity in Kirklees, had their launch session for the project in Huddersfield on Thursday 30 May. Key objectives were to identify what the group knew about archaeology and whether they had any specific interests they would like to pursue. We also discussed chronology and created our own pictorial timelines to represent the chronological development of Huddersfield.
The second session was an opportunity to explore landscape archaeology. We visited Beaumont Park to study both the landscape archaeology from the park and of the park. The views from the park are spectacular and provided us with a very different perspective of the development of the area. The landscape told a story that charted the historical development of Huddersfield from the Iron Age fort at Castle Hill to the mills of the Industrial Revolution. It also generated interesting discussion around how the landscape has changed over time and how the modern landscape has the imprint of many different periods of occupations.
Our attention then turned to the park itself. As Huddersfield expanded and the population grew, it was surprising that there was still no public park by 1879. In fact the park was created as a result of land donated by local landowner, Henry Frederick Beaumont, for e specific purpose of creating a public park for the people of Huddersfield. Our visit to the park revealed the landscape archaeology of a Victorian park that has evolved. We were able to discuss the carved heads of Mr and Mrs Beaumont, appreciate how the modern
bandstand was a reinterpretation of its Victorian predecessor, discover the remnants of the ‘castle’ refreshment rooms, and walk along the trackbed of the old Huddersfield to Meltham railway line.
The group really enjoyed getting to grips with landscape archaeology and were keen to share their feedback on the visit to Beaumont Park and landscape archaeology. Here are a few of the things the group said:-
“Awesome views and a great testimony to the hard work the Victorians did.” “Taking time just to look and reflect really opens my mind.”
“Encourages people to notice more. Very interesting to gain insight into the past.”
“Very interesting. Very educational outing.”
“You can see how the land was used in the past with visible evidence on the surface or photographic evidence available.”
Sessions 2 and 3
During the third and fourth sessions of this project, the group from S2R have been investigating the role of museums in archaeology. The group discussed how archaeology is discovered and what role museums play. They also debated the impact of survival on archaeological knowledge. This involved looking at how long things take to rot in the ground in different circumstances. We began to wonder how much of our everyday lives would survive for future archaeologists and what they might make of our lives from it. We also visited the local museum in Huddersfield – the Tolson Memorial Museum. Here we were able to build upon our earlier work about chronology. The group identified objects from different time periods and had a go at sketching them.