The Limestone Landscapes Project

The Limestone Landscapes Project covers the magnesian limestone area of Durham, Tyne and Wear and Teeside. The current partnership tasked with the development of the project is made up of The Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland, Durham Biodiversity Partnership, Durham County Council, Durham Heritage Coast, Durham Wildlife Trust, Groundwork North East, Natural England and the Woodland Trust.

The project aims are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the unique biodiversity, geo-diversity, landscape, heritage and cultural assets of the partnership area and strengthen and develop local character and distinctiveness.
  • Improve access to countryside and natural green-space, and opportunities for healthy ‘green exercise’ that will improve mental, physical and social well-being.
  • Raise awareness of the environment of the partnership area as an educational resource and a source of local pride, creating stronger links between urban and rural areas.
  • Empower local people to participate in activities and decision-making on the environment.
  • Improve, promote and use the environment as a stimulus for economic regeneration and sustainable growth.
  • Support and promote activities that help to mitigate, or adapt to, the impacts of climate change.
  • Support and complement the work of partners through linking and securing resources and expertise.

Increasing community involvement in Archaeological Excavation – Second season at Great Chilton by Ian Moran, Limestone Landscapes Project

Volunteers from the local community and beyond have been given the opportunity to take part in archaeological excavation at an interesting and previously unrecorded Iron Age settlement at Great Chilton, near Ferryhill in County Durham.   The site was identified through aerial photography which showed cropmarks suggesting settlement, together with finds from several periods.

The settlement consisted of round houses surrounded by a defensive enclosure ditch and was probably a farmstead occupied by several generations.  The site appears to have been occupied from the late Iron Age (500BC) into the Roman period

The opportunity for members of the public to engage with their heritage is part of a Community Archaeology project delivered by Archaeological Services at Durham University on behalf of the Archaeology Section at Durham County Council and the Limestone Landscapes Partnership.

This year has seen the second season of excavations at Great Chilton.  The excavations have given members of the community the opportunity to receive training in survey, excavation and recording.  There were also opportunities to learn how to excavate archaeological remains and record and process finds.

There has been lots of interest in the excavation and 37 individuals volunteered their time to take part.  On average 12 volunteers took part each day of the excavation.  Local schools have also been interested and 92 local school children from four primary schools visited the site.

During the excavation a circular enclosure 20m in diameter was uncovered comprising a ditch up to 1m in depth.  Archaeological Services are currently carrying out post excavation analysis and the findings will be reported back to the community.

The Limestone Landscapes project is working to conserve and restore ecological, geological and heritage interest on the Durham Magnesian Limestone Plateau.  Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund the Partnership also works to increase community engagement and access to the Limestone Plateau.

For more information on the project please contact David Mason, Principal Archaeologist, Durham County Council on 03000 267012 or by email on


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s