Today the S2R Huddersfield archaeology group completed the project and enjoyed a well deserved celebration. It was an opportunity to share experiences and choose favourite moments from the course. Everyone showcased their wonderful portfolios, which were packed with observations, research, drawings and photographs. The course had opened the eyes of the group to the history on their doorsteps and inspired them to take more of an active part in local history.
The focus of the celebration event was celebrating the achievements of everyone in the group – including both formal learning outcomes and broader outcomes concerning health and well being. The event began with a few words from the Chair of the Trustees of S2R, who reinforced the positive impact of the course. Victoria Beauchamp then congratulated students as she presented them with their certificates.
As tutor of the course, I would just like to say that it was a pleasure to work with the group and to join them on their journey of discoveries. Whilst imparting my knowledge and experience, I have also learned a lot from the group and very much enjoyed the project.
From Victoria Beauchamp: It was a real privilege to meet this group. The effort they had put into their scrapbooks was really showed and I was amazed at the quality of their drawings. They were all really keen to share with me their stories of what they had discovered and the confidence it had given them to try new things and take up hobbies they had not done for a while such as drawing and photography. In just a short space of time they had taught me so much about the archaeological treasure and history of Huddersfield and its region. Thank you.
Leeds Discovery Centre
The group were surprised to learn about the Leeds Discovery Centre, and were pleased to have the opportunity to visit. The Discovery Centre is part of Leeds Museums Service, and houses and cares for a large proportion of the collections they own. The first part of our visit was a workshop that examined what happens to archaeological finds after they leave the ground and have been recorded. All objects are fully recorded and forms signed regarding ownership. Each object is also carefully cleaned and assigned a number, and is additionally catalogued so relevant information is collected. We all took part in an activity to ‘have a go’ at these different stages, including cleaning and writing on the objects, and then recording them. Some of the group demonstrated a talent for ‘museum writing’ by clearly labelling their object.
Everyone’s favourite part of the visit was going behind the scenes and into the museum stores. Objects from around the world were on display – all with a link to the Leeds area. It was hard to know where to look first, and everyone had so many questions to ask. The objects on display and in cabinets related to a range of collections and sites including natural and social history as well as archaeology. We also had the opportunity to look at artefacts from Kirkstall Abbey, which the group had previously visited. They found it particularly interesting to see the floor tiles from the abbey site, and the smaller metal finds. The visit certainly generated a lot of discussion.
One of the best places in Huddersfield to discover landscape archaeology is Beaumont Park. From the viewing points panoramas of the town unfold before your eyes. The group began to identify different parts of the Huddersfield area, and realised the relative position and relationship of different places. The closer they observed the landscape, the more they understood the evolution of the area. The site of the Iron Age fort at Castle Hill was the earliest feature amongst the natural woodland. The imprint of the Victorians was perhaps the most impressive – from the railway viaduct and Victoria Tower on Castle Hill to industrial buildings and housing. For many of the archaeology group the view of Huddersfield from the top of the park was the best part of the day. Here’s what the group said:-
“fantastic views of the local landscape”
“Best bit of the day”
“I found landscape archaeology interesting as I had never really taken in the views before and realising there is lots of greenery as well as industrial Victorian parts of the town”
In addition the group explored Victorian Beaumont Park, and discovered how much landscape archaeology it concealed. We walked in the footsteps of the Victorians as we promenaded along the paths at the top end of the park looking for clues of its Victorian splendour. The carved lions and heads provoked interest and debate, as did the recreated bandstand. After lunch the group headed deeper into the park to uncover its secrets. The stonework arches, bridges and castellated entrance added a certain mystique to our quest, as did the site of the castle refreshment rooms and the trackbed of the old Huddersfield to Meltham railway line.
Here are the group’s favourite bits:-
“Geological features – rocks and peace and tranquility”
“The railway line, where refreshment rooms were, water feature, old bandstand”
“I enjoyed searching for the stone heads of Mr and Mrs Beaumont”
“I found the day very good walking through the park and finding the history of the refreshment room. Also the big drop from the top side of the park. Finding out that it had a train running as well in the early days”
Finally the inquisitive archaeological group were interested in the landscape archaeology at the other side of town – the Colne Valley. A short walk from the park was the opportunity to view the valley and observe the landscape archaeology. The group were awestruck as most had never seen a view of those parts of Huddersfield from that perspective. After observing and discussing, the group had plenty to talk about as we made our way back to the centre of Huddersfield after a long and fascinating day.
The S2R archaeology group from Huddersfield have been enjoying the first few sessions of their course. At the first meeting, once everyone had been introduced, the group shared their archaeological experiences from watching Time Team on TV to visiting archaeological sites around the world. The group were particularly interested in Roman archaeology, so we had a look at the British Museum ‘Life and Death: Pompeii and Herculaneum’ app. It was an opportunity to find out more about the two Italian cities through the archaeological evidence left behind. The group explored an interactive map of each city and selected artefacts to discover more about. The group particularly found the mosaics and graffiti very interesting. The first session was also a chance to identify our interests, aims and experience.
The next two sessions were spent investigating medieval archaeology. The group visited Kirkstall Abbey and Pontefract Castle. at Kirkstall Abbey, they particularly enjoyed discovering what different parts of the site were used for and comparing Kirkstall with other abbeys they had visited. It was a cold day, which meant the group could empathise with the Cistercian Monks who inhabited the abbey and showed a particular interest in the Warming Room! Using the archaeological clues, the group worked together to identify where different parts of the ruins were located on their plans and discussed the achievement of constructing such a large complex so long ago.
Pontefract provided some archaeological surprises as the group had not realised how much they would be able to see. The old parish church was an archaeological jigsaw, which the group successfully solved. The ruinous medieval core was of such an impressive scale, everyone realised Pontefract must have been important. We discussed the links with the De Lacy family and how it was destroyed in the civil war during the 17th century. The tower and transepts were early nineteenth century additions, and the brick nave was only built in the 1960s. The group observed different details of the church and recorded them in sketches and photographs. Next we discovered the site of the Anglo Saxon church, of which only the foundation stones can be seen. The group tried to imagine what it was like, and we discussed the use of computer aided design to reconstruct archaeological buildings and sites. Walking up the cobbled hill the group began anticipating what the castle site had in store – they weren’t disappointed. Although there is relatively little to see of the castle buildings compared to some castles, it meant the group were able to really put their archaeological detective skills to the test. They climbed to the top of the mound where the keep would have been and surveyed the views from there. The different towers built into the castles provided additional security. The kitchen area and adjoining bake house and brew house occupied a large portion of the site, with evidence of the fires in the colour of the stonework. Two churches were constructed on the castle site as well, and the original Norman church retained interesting architectural details that the group observed.
After the success of the S2R group before the summer a keen new group are looking forward to starting their new course with tutor Sarah Holland.
Look out for their blogs as they go on their archaeological journey exploring Huddesfield and the local area.