Archaeological Dig Uncovers
New Finds In The
North York Moors National Park

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An archaeological dig that aims to further investigate the findings of a previous aerial survey has taken place in the North York Moors National Park. It is believed the area, which is located in the north of the National Park towards Guisborough, may be the site of a prehistoric farming settlement. 

Miles Johnson, Head of Historic Environment at the North York Moors National Park Authority, said:

“It’s always exciting to have the opportunity to discover something new and help reveal the hidden history of the landscape. It’s been a number of years since we’ve seen an excavation on this kind of site in the North York Moors and few examples of this kind of site have ever been investigated in the region.”

The site first came to the attention of the National Park Authority’s archaeology team following an aerial survey of the surrounding landscape, known as LiDAR mapping, in 2016. LiDAR uses laser technology to scan the ground and can identify subtle variations, such as ridges and troughs, which may otherwise be hidden under vegetation. This airborne survey was later followed by a study on the ground (undertaken in 2019), which looked for further clues about the site’s history. 

“The information we have so far suggests a farming settlement, surrounded by small fields which were cultivated and probably held livestock too,” said Miles.

“The remains look to be significant, but the investigation will be targeted and small-scale so that the impact on both the archaeology and the surrounding environment is as minimal as possible. We are taking precautions so as not to disturb nesting birds, adders and other wildlife.”

“Ultimately we hope that this excavation might give us a better insight into domestic life around 2-4,000 years ago in the North York Moors. Many of the features that survive or have been excavated from this period are monumental in nature, for example barrows or dykes. But understanding the everyday, ordinary lives of people is important too.”

The excavation is being carried out by DigVentures, a social enterprise company that brings together people who are interested in archaeology, with opportunities to get involved with real excavations. The current dig will finish by mid-April, but the work to study, identify and properly catalogue the finds and environmental information from the site will continue over the coming months. The knowledge generated will also be added to the North York Moors Historic Environment Record, an index of known physical cultural heritage across the National Park. 

Initial finds have included a range of flints from the Neolithic and Bronze Age and a small amount of pottery. 

Stephanie Duensing from DigVentures said: “Over 30 local residents from all walks of life joined our dig team, eager to learn about archaeology and to help us unearth the story of this fascinating new site.

“Together we’ve had an incredible 10 days of discovery, digging through sun and snow to reveal the first solid evidence of when this settlement was occupied and who by, including an early Bronze Age tanged arrowhead, a gorgeous little thumbnail scraper, and a collection of Roman pottery sherds.

“It’s been a fantastic experience and we’re really looking forward to what other discoveries we make as we start to analyse these artefacts and soil samples in the lab.”

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