Castleton Dig Diary – New Hall and test pits

De-turfing began at the New Hall site on 8th May to mark out a large trench about 9m x 9m


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Then quickly got down to the smaller 2016 trench


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During the next week some really nice features were excavated – the foundations of a wall running north-south and the remains of an adjoining external staircase, both of which had been visible on an old photo and paintings of New Hall.


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The last stages of the New Hall excavation at New Hall


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Colin’s drone photo gave a great bird’s eye view of the New Hall trench. The top of the photo is south here – it shows the south and east walls of one wing of the hall, most of the east wall having been robbed out. At the north-east corner you can see a section of internal wall. In many parts of the trench the excavation had come down onto a compacted floor.


A number of test pits were dug around the village, mostly but not only in fields. The first were in the Spring Field, by kind permission of Rita and Brian – a few finds were made, mostly clay pipe fragments and pottery, which appear to be fairly typical of finds on the fields around Castleton.


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A few test pits were dug in Seven Roods Field (with Gary’s permission) – it rained quite a lot at that point but it was really good practice for a large number of students. Finds were not abundant but again included pottery and clay pipe.


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Two test pits were dug at houses on How Lane by Pauline and Arthur, with a little help from another – in one of the test pits a large ceramic pipe was revealed. That was (sadly) the most exciting find.


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Castleton Dig 2017 – photo diary

Day 1 on the Spital Field – the team assembles

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The 2017 trench was laid out to overlap several trenches dug in previous years, and to investigate new ground to the south and west in order to locate the south and west walls of a putative chapel.

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Approaching the end of first week, good progress is being made…

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Into Week 2, finds cleaning begins…

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Up to and into Week 3, reaching the clay layer on which the foundation walls stand.

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More than half-way through, plenty of finds and more visitors to site, longer sections of the foundation walls are becoming obvious.

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Work on the south-west part of the trench suggests that this is an area of disturbed burials and melting of lead from the chapel building.

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Nearing the end of the four weeks excavation… bones and recording

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Back-filling at the end of a very successful four week’s work

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And here is the result a seen from the drone – medieval foundations of the south and west walls of our probable chapel, with a cross wall.



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John Craven Opens Visitor Centre: 9 August 2017

A crowd of invited guests & visitors heard John Craven talk about his love of the Peak District when he was the special guest at the opening of the newly refurbished Visitor Centre.

Castleton Museum, which is housed in the Visitor Centre, has also been given a new layout with redesigned display cases and a wall size screen for digital interpretations of the Museum’s collection.


P1010379 croppedThere were plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained throughout the day, both inside ….




… and outside, with well-dressing, face painting, river dipping & other rural crafts to try.



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A New Era for the Museum

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After the months of



& brainstorming  ….




….  the museum re-opens with a brand new look.27-P1010325 weblg

Redesigned display cases, a wall size screen for digital presentations and a new layout for special exhibitions of topical subjects offer new opportunities to showcase the best of the CHS collection.

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Beauchief Abbey tour July 2017

About 20 members met up at Beauchief Abbey on Thursday 27th July for a historic and archaeological tour by Colin Merrony from Sheffield University. What had been a wet and gloomy day turned into a splendid evening with lovely light so we were really lucky! Colin steered us safely through the golfers (he’s obviously done this before) and explained the origins of the Abbey, founded for the Premonstratensians (White Canons) c. 1175. He showed us where by studying the landscape and old maps, and by digging a few targeted trenches, parts of the abbey precincts and gatehouse may have been. We followed what was probably a very ancient route towards Beauchief Hall then back to the church of Beauchief Abbey where we finished the tour. Colin gave us all some really helpful notes and diagrams to aid interpretation, but for those who would like more history about the abbey, the British History online account is very detailed (

And now for some photos…..


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Annual General Meeting 2017

On the evening of Thursday 19th January we met in Castleton Village Hall for our 44th AGM, to be followed by a pie and pea supper.

Maria presented her Chairman’s Report and spoke about some highlights of the past year including some great talks, our archaeology projects and the recent changes at the Visitor’s Centre (where due to building works being undertaken by the Peak District National Park the Museum is temporarily closed). We all remembered Peter Harrison, our much missed late Chairman, who died suddenly last summer.

Alan’s Treasurer’s Report showed that the Society’s finances are in good shape. A really tasty dinner was enhanced by BYO drinks, and whilst coffee and mints were being consumed Jean talked through some recently acquired old photos of local people (thanks to Josie Sidebottom and Les Robinson); Angela then followed up with a few photos from the 2016 dig.

There was a very good turnout and feedback so far suggests that it was well enjoyed!


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2017 Archaeology dates

Archaeology will begin again in Castleton from Monday May 8th 2017, when Colin returns with his First Year Archaeology students from Sheffield University. We expect that work will continue for four weeks.

If you would like to know more, or want to volunteer on the dig, please contact Angela (

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