I have repeatedly failed to sort out the time to update the blog over the last week. However, on the plus side, this does mean there is lots to write about now. First, an update on the gradiometer survey on the north side of New Laund Hill. This has proved harder than we anticipated to process satisfactorily. We had a great deal of dificulty getting the gradiometer set up properly in the first place as there was so much variabilty in the background. The first survey we did last week was extremely noisy once we downloaded it and didn’t show anything at all. We have subsequently had three more goes at it, with gradually increasing success.
This is that most recent survey after processing. North is at the top and the ditch features which John had pointed out to us are just outside the survey area to the east. It is still not ideal but I think I can see some circular arrangements of dark anomalies in the centre of the northern grid and a line of them running east to west just about where the two grids meet. It is all very speculative at the moment but they do look very similar to the circular feature in the centre of the New Laund Enclosure, which of course turned out to be an Iron Age roundhouse.
Meanwhile, in the trench outside Dinkling Green Mine Cave we have successfully removed all the screes to expose the limestone bedrock over the whole area. Two things are now obvious. One, it is deeper than I had thought it would be. And two, there is evidence of quarrying or mining right down to the base of the trench. In particular there are three very clear drill holes for blasting charges.
This is one of the ones in the main trench. Tony, Pete and Carol were back on site on Monday and Tuesday. They explored a lot more of the mine and discovered many more of these shot holes in every passage, even surprisingly deep underground. Beth also found a lot of small sherds of 18th century slipware at the north end of our trench, which gives a good idea of the general date of this mining.
The other thing that Carol, Tony and I did on Monday was explore some of the possible caves on the east bank of the Hodder. We followed a dry valley up the side of the main Hodder valley to look at three connected sites: Tip Wood; Whitewell Cave and Hell Hole. Tip Wood is a dry sink hole which is full of an implausibly vast amount of relatively modern junk (well there is a clue in the site name I suppose). There is no sign of either a cave or a rock shelter there now but I suppose if you could motivate yourself to shift all the corrugated asbestos, old freezers and plate glass you might get lucky.
Whitewell Cave is relatively well known and has been explored by cavers without every producing any evidence of prehistoric occupation. It is the dark hole in the bottom right corner of this photo. However, what we are much more interested in is the long, low rockshelter which runs across the rock-face about one metre above the cave proper. This looks very similar to shelters in the Dales such as Sewell’s Cave, which did have prehistoric burials in them.
This is Tony outside Hell Hole, which is smaller and more open and where the surface deposits at least look to be more recent. With these two sites, and the results of the geophysics, we are starting to get some clear ideas about where we might do fieldwork in future.