Castleton Dig Diary 2016

Weeks 3 and 4:  New Hall trench, other trenches & test pits

Angela Darlington

New Hall trench

The Methodist Chapel was built on the lands where a Tudor house named New Hall once stood. It was built c.1500 by the Savage family, and demolished in the late 1800s, a few years before the building of the Chapel. The aim of the archaeology this year was to locate part of the building as a reference point for future work and everyone was very pleased that the south-facing wall of a wing of the house was positively identified.

Other trenches and test pits

Several other small trenches were dug including some at the west end of the village, to further explore evidence for the pre-Norman, early medieval settlement.  Together with documentary evidence that referred to human burials in this area, the archaeology continues to yield promising results.


Thanks to all those who have helped throughout the dig, including the volunteers without whose hard work little would be accomplished, and the landowners and tenants who have generously granted access.


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Castleton Dig Diary 2016

Weeks 3 and 4                   Angela Darlington

Spital Field continued………..

The Spital field, where burials probably linked to the medieval hospital have been found in previous years, was the focus of this year’s dig. The aim this year was to find evidence of buildings associated with the hospital. Week 3 began with more bailing out of the water that had accumulated in the trench during heavy rainfall over the weekend. Then, in the north-west corner of the trench (closest to the main road) what appeared to be a tumbled limestone wall was excavated – not very wide, and with a number of sherds possibly all from the same 16th – 17th century vessel in amongst the stones.  This was too insubstantial for a medieval building wall, but happily, as enthusiasm for this feature reduced, two other areas of stone in the south and east of the trench started to become much more interesting. By the middle of week 4, these had been resolved into two sections of the limestone foundations of a very substantial wall, and the current thinking is that these could be part of a medieval chapel, located close to the burial area.

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Castleton Dig Diary 2016

Weeks 1 and 2

Monday May 9th dawned bright and sunny for the arrival of Colin and a lot of first-year Archaeology students in a big white van, plus a number of volunteers.

The main focus for the first week was the opening of two trenches and a test pit on the Spital field. The first measures 10 x 8 metres, and overlaps one that was dug in 2011 in order to investigate the first section of wall discovered on the scheduled monument. The objective is to dig further west from the 2011 trench and deeper, in the hopes of discovering more convincing evidence of medieval hospital structures.

The second trench is 10 x 2 metres, running north – south, and is located just north of the stone feature, initially described as a possible ice house,  that was exposed when Severn Trent put a drain across the field in 1999. Trent and Peak Archaeology excavated the feature at the time and in their report concluded it was more likely to be a corn-drying kiln. Medieval pottery was found in the vicinity of the kiln, which was subsequently destroyed by the laying of the drain. The objective of the second trench, and a small test pit to the east of it, is to investigate the area around these earlier findings.

With the exception of Tuesday afternoon of week 1, when the heavens opened and everyone went home, the weather has been mostly good and by the time Monday of week 2 came around some interesting features had emerged on the first trench – a possible burial cut, and an area of stones that (with a bit of imagination) could be the remains of a passageway. The burial cut turned out to be something entirely different…. (see slide show below).

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Possibly the most promising finds (apart from the telegraph pole insulators) from the first two weeks on the Spital Field are two pieces of worked gritstone with distinctive mouldings – perhaps from a high status building? (See photos below).


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Castleton garden yields medieval drinks vessel

Sherds of pottery found in a garden in Castleton have been identified as part of a medieval splash glazed vessel of a type last made at the end of the 13th Century.

Photos & a report of this find are shown below.  Click on a photo to enlarge it & start slide show.

A medieval vessel from Peveril Castle

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Dig 2015: Final update

A drain to dye for, further developments at the burial site and a lovely flint. Spital Field yields a few more hints of the past. The full report of the final week of the dig can be read here:- Update Saturday 6 June 2015

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Dig 2015: Week Two Update

Despite some wet & windy weather, further work on the Spital Field site reveals a new drain while the New Hall site yields some lovely paving. More information in the Update report and some photos (click on each photo for larger size) :-   Update Sunday 24th May (1)

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A Racing Start for the 2015 Dig

6 trenches (3 each in the Spital Field & the New Hall site behind the Methodist Church) & 2 test pits dug & back filled, all in week one has given this year’s dig a racing start. The following photographs & document give a fuller story (click on each photo for larger size).  The 2015 dig

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