Posted by: yearsleymoor | December 13, 2012

More of the Park Pale exposed!

The volunteers have been carrying on with excavating the Park Pale  – you can see the pictures underneath. Sadly, my post as the Assistant Lime and Ice Project Officer finishes in a few days and it has been a wonderful Project, over the four years. The Project at Yearsley has been very successful and  it’s history has been uncovered through the hard work of the volunteers. I hope you enjoy reading the blog and please feel free to contribute new information about Yearsley to it. Best regards Nick Lishman

Thanks to:

                      Geoff Snowdon, Elisabeth Sanderson, Gudrun Gaudian, Chris Williams, Judy Bradfield, Catherine Thorn, Michael Gubbins, Kim Werner, Gigi Signorelli, John Lister,

                      John Butler, Jo Reilly



Posted by: yearsleymoor | November 27, 2012

Volunteers uncover more of Yearsley’s ‘lost’ buildings

Come rain or shine the volunteers are out uncovering more of the Yearsley buildings. As of writing, they have been working last week , being ably assisted this time by the Young Apprentices from the North York Moors National Park Ranger Service. Work has moved forward between bouts of rain, the site after only a little rain turns into a Somme like landscape and becomes impossible to work in without having to extricate your boots/wellies from the mud frequently. The stream that passes through the site, can on rainy days also get quite full (as can be seen in the photos).

As well as Gigi Signorelli, the archaeologist overseeing proceedings, there has been a couple of archaeology staff from the University Of York casting their experienced eyes over the site. There has been a lot of green glazed pottery fragments being uncovered, some very big bits, showing they were most probably common or garden storage jars. The volunteers and Gigi are still debating about how the  mill wheel was postioned and the direction in which water that fed it came from. You can see the mill stone in the 3rd photo, (lying on it’s side), near to where the apprentices are.

Posted by: yearsleymoor | July 24, 2012

The site is bigger than expected!

The Mill Stone can be seen in the centre of the picture, only a quarter of it is uncovered by the soil

Whilst working on the main building uncovered (see the last post) aquick examination over other areas of the site showed that there was a complex of buildings, dating from around the same time. This led to some excitement and it was decided to choose one of the other larger main buildings to uncover from the hundreds of years of woodland encroachment. Unlike the other building, this one started to yield finds pretty quickly. First of all there was quite a scattered amount of 16-17 Century Pottery located in a stream bed nearby. As the building was uncovered further a millstone appeared! This was needless to say a very exciting find and tied in with research done as part of the Yearsley Moor project, when it was found that the Fairfax family owned a mill at Yearsley in the late 16 Century. More evidence of the mill may be found in what the volunteers think is the ‘wheel pit’ where the channel was dug and the water came in from. Although apart from heavy stone walls, no roofing material was found, like many of the bulidings we suspect in the complex, the stone and other usable building material has been robbed out over the centuries and reused. The building complexes still need more excavation but this has had to be put on hold for the time being. Please watch this space for more details!

Posted by: yearsleymoor | May 2, 2012

Uncovering Yearsley’s secrets for the public

Despite a wet day, it didn’t dampen spirits or enthusiasm for Yearsley Moors hidden buildings

On a very wet  Sunday on the 29 April, a small band of the volunteers showed some brave members of the public around Yearsley. The volunteers each have their own specialisms and interests. Geoff and Elizabeth showed what they had found- they are looking at the ‘Park Pale’ -this was a ditch and bank enclosure protected with a wooden palisade fence around and its purpose was  for keeping deer in. The various parts of the deer would have been used, for meat, antlers for tools, ornament, skins for clothes, rugs and coverings etc. The deer park was given permission  in the 13 Century, not much of it can be seen now apart from a relatively shallow ditch in places and a small earth bank, both fairly overgrown. Geoff and Elizabeth have mapped out the whole deer park boundary- quite an impressive feat! Gudrun, another volunteer gave us a tour of what she and Chris  had learnt about the Bell pits. Bell pits are coal mines that were established at the end of the 16 Century so called because of their shape underground. The mines were a hive of activity then, but are silent now-  a part of Yearsley Moor’s industrial past. Judy and Catherine, two other volunteers have researched the archives and have gleaned a lot of information which has been invaluable in telling the Yearsley Moor story, they talked about the difficulties and successes encounted in doing this. Geoff  also talked about the 18 Century dams, within the area located on 18th Century maps marked as the ‘Wilderness’. The dams,  like a lot of Yearsley’s past history have been changed and covered by tree and scrub cover and evidence of how they worked is quite a lot of conjecture.  The visitors were  then taken to see  the buildings that are being uncovered, with exclamations of ‘Wow I didn’t know they were there!’   a lot of enthusiasm was shown for the project with the wet weather not dampening people’s spirits on the day.

Posted by: yearsleymoor | May 1, 2012

Uncovering Yearsley’s secrets part 3

The building uncovered  is located in the 18th Century ‘Wilderness’ area’ of Yearsley Moor  it is  medieval in age and  dates  from the 14th to the 16th century. The building underwent two phases of construction an earlier and later building.  It was not possible to determine the definite use of the building, but as can be seen from the photos, substantial walling was uncovered.  It seems as though the walls have been pushed out when the roof has failed, either this has led to it’s eventual abandonment or it stopped being in use for some other reason.  The doorway was also delibrately blocked up with substantial rocks, a reason for this  may have been to deter people getting in.  During the excavation, medieval pottery (green glazed) and bricks were found within the rubble deposit, appearing to date from the 15-16 th century, giving an approximate lifespan of two hundred years. Due to restricted time and resources it was not possible to establish the full size of the early dwelling, nor its use or reason for abandonment. Nevertheless, it is evident that not long after the first building went out of use a second one had been erected using part of the former structure. There is still a need to understand the reason why the former building was reduced in size, and what was the actual purpose for this dwelling? Had it a function as part of the medieval park? Was it home for the game keeper or part of a small hamlet?

Posted by: yearsleymoor | March 13, 2012

Uncovering Yearsley’s secrets part 2

In the last posting there was work being done on the iron age ‘ditch’  further investigation shows it to be  a medieval trackway, a fairly common earthwork  used by horses and carts to transport, well  almost anything! Some of the volunteers have been busy helping  excavate the remains of a building at Yearsley, which began before Christmas and continued into January 2012. I will provide some more information about this building later, (see pictures above). The excavation has revealed one older building  on top of a newer one. It looks like at some point the wall has collapsed in  probably after it had been abandoned.   The building my also have had another storey, although evidence of this does not exist. No wood was found during the excavation and it may have been removed and reused, this may be the case  for some of the stone as well. The area is very wet/boggy and wood doesn’t last long in this environment.

Posted by: yearsleymoor | December 13, 2011

Uncovering Yearsley’s secrets

The volunteers have been excavating a small ditch,  Gigi Signorelli- the Archaeologist is in charge of proceedings. We are hoping to discover if  the ditch at Yearsley is Iron Age and we are also looking at  the foundations of a building near the lake, which could be 17 or 18th Century in date. The day got off to a good start and the volunteers cleared the top layer of the site of bracken and bramble the ditch can be seen fairly easily once the vegetation has been removed. After more of the top soil material had been cleared, spades and mattocks were swapped for trowels to do some of the more finer work removal.  The reason for this is  looking  for post holes and organic layers which can then be carbon dated.  At about 2pm we had a walk around to see if the ditch could be continued along it’s length. The volunteers will be carrying on and hopefully in the next blog there will be more insight.

Posted by: yearsleymoor | August 30, 2011

Volunteers meet on Yearsley Moor to interpret information

Our loyal band of volunteers gathered  at Yearsley Moor to look at the information so far gleaned from their hardwork on site, in libraries and record offices in the region. The purpose of this was to see how this information will be conveyed to the public when they visit, the aim being that the public  will learn something about the richness of the history of Yearsley Moor as well as enjoying a gentle walk.

The first historic stop was the Park Pale,  the ‘pale’  is a wooden fence around a large woodland park with an accompayning ditch and a bank.  The fence has long since disappeared but the ditch and bank can still be seen. The park and pale were used to keep deer captive for the purposes of being hunted for sport.  The saying ‘going beyond the pale’ refers to when you go beyond a set boundary- into ‘unknown lands’ as it were.

The next stop was to the small lake sites. These sites contain landscaping as well as the two lakes. There are also a series of sluices for them. The area is overgrown and the landscaping is slipping back into wilderness. The site may have evidence of Medieval influence- possibly part of the sluice system. A massive flood water event at sometime in the middle 17th Century has destroyed some of the landscaping and possibly some of the Medieval and later 17th Century sluice mechanisms, as a result it is proving a challenge to work out the exact sluice mechanism of the lakes with probably only half the evidence remaining. 

Next on the list was a visit to one of the known temple sites, although nothing remains of the temple. Beneath the undergrowth is a layer of hardcore  rock used as a base.  The temple site has a good view of the surrounding area. There are also Yew trees growing around the temple site, acting as a screen for the temple but have now become very overgrown.  The temple is near to Lady Barne’s walk, where there are some large mature  Beech and Oak trees.

We walked along  the woodland path to Gilling Castle which opens out into an avenue of Beech trees stretching down to Gilling Castle and would probably have formed a great impression on the people travelling down to to the castle in horse and carridge.  A  rise or hump in the road, half way along the avenue’ of trees obscures the castle after getting over this bit of the road, the castle is ‘revealed’ – a  feature that was probably intended in order to give the maximum impact when at last the castle was seen by visitors.

Posted by: yearsleymoor | April 5, 2011

Filming on Yearsley Moor!

As part of the project, the Yearsley Moor volunteers were involved in filming, both at Yearsley Moor and the Northallerton County Records Office. This happened over two days on  15 March 2011 and 28 March 2011. The first day of filming started off with Jeff  (cameraman) and May (Pathways Consultancy)  filming the Bronze age burial mound (barrow) at sunrise, to  get evocative  shots of the sun coming up. Unfortunately this didn’t work out as planned as there was thick fog.  The fog however  cleared and film was taken of  talking about the history of the barrow- at the end the footage  in film speak, was ‘in the can’! Film was also taken of the boundary markers-(see other post)  and ancient trackways. Filming finally finished on the first day with footage of the  Bell pits in an area called ‘coal pit slack’.  Names of areas can give good information about the origins and resources (such as this example).

On the 28th, filming took place at the Northallerton County Records Office. The staff there were very helpful and filming went very well. In the afternoon we returned once more to Yearsley and the volunteers talked to camera about the Deer Park, Park Pale (fence/earthwork structure to keep deer in). Everybody worked hard and it will be nice to see how the film turns out.


See the Vimeo website for videos (as I cannot embed them on this version of wordpress): They are also on the North York Moors National Park website. Go to the section under Caring For/What we’re doing- Lime and Ice, click on this and then choose option- ‘Exploring Yearsley Moor’ which will take you to where the videos are.

Posted by: yearsleymoor | November 2, 2010

Which direction?

During October, the volunteers met to discuss what direction they would go in to research Yearsley Moor. Some of the volunteers are looking at archival evidence including old maps of the area- back to the 17th century, while others are  looking at ‘on the ground physical archaeology’.  By the time we come to  interpret the site  we will have a lot of information to choose from!

the volunteers at their first foray into Yearsley

Older Posts »