An A, B and C of archaeology across CBA North

CBA North News

Another month comes, as does another CBA North email. This time round we have another range from across the CBA North region of what is happening and has happened. We take our prompts today from our own initials with announcements for a coffee morning (complete with archaeological display) and a report on the Coniston Copper project for the ‘C’s, an announcement for an Alpine axeheads lecture as well as a note from the Arbeia Society for the ‘A’s.

Where the ‘B’ you might well ask? That is the behind the scenes ‘busy’ that Committee are in preparing such emails, as well as our own events in April and May, for you. We hope that you will also be busy in attending these events of your own and other local groups. Hopefully the next CBA North email will be out to you by this time next week with some further news.

Nonetheless our best wishes,

CBA North Committee, 06.02.2017

TillVAS Coffee Morning
[The weekend coming up has two events; this is the first of the two posters for you – Ed].

The Coniston Copper Project: Penny Rigg
[Members will recall that we put out a call for volunteers for this project during the summer of last year. This article, contributed by Penny Middleton of Northern Archaeological Associates, details the work carried out so far, Ed.]

“In August 2016 local volunteers from the Lake District National Park, working together with specialists from Northern Archaeological Associates (NAA), undertook a survey of the remains of Penny Rigg copper mill, near Coniston (NGR NY 30656 00695). The mill is prime example of a single-phase, medium-sized, ore dressing and processing plant, associated with Tilberthwaite copper mine. The project was funded by the HLF as part of the Coniston Copper Project; a two-year programme administered by the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA), which aims to engage the local people in the history and conservation of the areas’ nationally important mining heritage.


The view across the site
 
Tilberthwaite copper mine was first worked under the auspices of the Mines Royal, during the in the Elizabethan period but mined only sporadically after this until taken over by John Barratt, former manager at the nearby Coniston copper mine, in the mid-19th century. Barratt drove a new adit – Horse Crag Level – 1,039 yard (950m) from Penny Rigg to Tilberthwaite to intersect the valuable North Vein. This was intended to improve both transportation and drainage to the mine, and was anticipated to take seven years at a cost of £3,000. However, from the outset the venture was beset with problems, eventually taking 10 years to complete at an undisclosed cost considerably which was significantly over the original initial estimate.
 
Ore from the mine was loaded onto wagons and brought through Horse Level to Penny Rigg, where Barratt and his partners invested in the construction of a new copper mill. Here the ore was sorted, crushed and processed before being sent for smelting. Work on the mill is believed to have begun in 1864 and completed by 1867-68 but it did not remain in operation long, closing soon after the sale of the mine in 1875. The mill later re-opened briefly in the early 1890s, but closed again in 1892, after which the plant was dismantled and the wheel sold for scrap.


The remains of the crushing mill 

Today, the 1.5ha site comprises the semi-ruinous remains a number of buildings – the crusher house and dressing mill, smithy and powder house – as well as various terraces, two settling ponds, leats, holding pond, spoil tips and tracks, all of which are overlain in part by later quarry waste. The entrance to the Horse Crag Level remains visible and the tunnel has recently been cleared by the Cumbria Amenity Trust Mining History Society (CATMHS), although it is unsafe to access without appropriate equipment and supervision. To the north of the site are the expansive remains of Penny Rigg (Horse Crag) quarry, worked commercially since the mid-18th century.


Rectified photographic survey using a total station

The aim of the community survey was twofold. Firstly, to engage local volunteers in the history and conservation of the site through providing practical, hands-on training, and secondly, to prepare a detailed analytical survey (Historic England Level 2/3) of the surface earthworks and structures. The latter was required to inform a subsequent phase of building conservation. A comprehensive record of the complex was made comprising a topographic, earthwork and building survey. The focus was on ensuring the volunteers received a firm grounding in traditional survey skills – plane table, tape and offset – which could be easily transferred to other mining sites in the area. The use of aerial drones, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), reflectorless total station theodolites (REDM), and rectified photography were also demonstrated.
 
A full copy of the report can be downloaded for free from the NAA website, or contact Penny Middleton at pm@naaheritage.com. If you interested in taking part in the Coniston Copper Project then please contact Eleanor Kingston at Eleanor.Kingston@lakedistrict.gov.uk or check the project website at http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/learning/archaeologyhistory/coniston-copper for details. Further survey work is planned for March at the site of Low Mill Bonsor for three weeks.


Plane table surveying 1

NAA would like to thank all the volunteers who took part for their enthusiasm and dedication throughout the three-week project. We are also indebted to CBA North and the Archaeological and Architectural Society of Durham and Northumberland for the loan of the plane table, and to Warren Allison and his colleagues at CATMHS for their knowledge, advice and support”.


Plane table survey 2

Local group round-up: The Arbeia Society
Paul Bidwell has sent us this small snippet on The Arbeia Society whose annual conference we publicised last year;

“The Society, apart from its re-enactment group, confines itself at present to arranging the annual conference and its publications, including the Arbeia Journal, but a range of new activities are being planned”.

[We look forward to hearing of those events, Ed.]

Alpine axeheads announcement
[As the second announcement for the weekend coming, here is the poster for the next lecture of our group member the ‘Arch & Arch’. This lecture covers these axes which have been found across Britain and Europe, but will also note their comparative rarity and the science that allows the axes to be traced to source, Ed.].

Other Events This Week
Other events this week also include;

6 February – Celts, Fraser Hunter [BAS]
8 February – Excavations at Hepden Burn and Kyloe Shin, John Nolan and Richard Carlton [CCA]
8 February – Prehistoric Life and Death at Lochinver, Philippa Cockburn [NAG]
9 February – The Prehistoric Origins of the A1(M), Dr Blaise Vyner [APPLEBY]
10 February – The Clayton Archaeological Collection, Frances McIntosh [WCAS]
13 February – The Neolithic in the North-West: What makes this region different?, Gill Hey [LUNESDALE]

Contact details for each of these local societies and groups can be found through our own website pages if you have any questions regarding their times and venues.

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