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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Great Neolithic Monuments of the North

A packed village hall listened attentively to a fascinating talk by Colin Richards in which he explored the differences between stone circles, henge monuments and passage graves in northern Britain and Ireland around the fourth millennium.  He proposed an interesting theory of wrapping to explain the development of a number of these sites.  You can read more detail about this talk, by visiting Talk 161014

Colin Richards is Professor of World Prehistory, Archaeology at Manchester University.


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“Great Neolithic Monuments of the North” Thursday 9 October 2014

Colin Richards, Professor of World Prehistory and Archaeology at the University of Manchester,will be giving a talk entitled

“Great Neolithic Monuments of the North” on Thursday 16th October, 7.30 pm in Castleton Village Hall. 

Colin’s precis:
The end of the fourth millennium cal BC marks a point when a series of apparently different monuments begin to be constructed across Britain and Ireland. In this talk I want to explore the ‘differences’ between stone circles, henge monuments and passage graves in northern Britain and Ireland.
As we will see things may not be so clear-cut as they seem.
The talk has been organised by Castleton Historical Society. As usual, non-members are very welcome (£3 entrance which includes refreshments).
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‘Castleton Remembers’: The Opening of the World War 1 Exhibition

WW1 display window websm
‘Castleton Remembers’ Display in the Visitors Centre

The CHS Exhibition featuring the memories & photos of the people of Castleton during World War 1 was opened on August 1st by Mary Bagley of PDNPA & Peter Harrison of the CHS.  This project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and gathered together a varied collection of material about the village during the war.  The exhibition is on display at Castleton Visitor Centre in the Darnbrough Room until 31 August during normal Centre opening times. Admission is free.

WW1 peter &
Peter Harrison (CHS) & Mary Bagley (PDNPA)


The opportunity was also taken to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the partnership between CHS and PDNPA at the Visitors Centre where CHS houses its accredited museum.

A full report of the project and this event is available here:- WW1 exhibition report

WW1 cake

Maria’s delicious celebration cake


WW1 Kay etc


Poems & Paintings by the children of Castleton Primary School
Poems & Paintings by the children of Castleton Primary School


Children's work on the theme 'Poppies'

Children’s work on the theme ‘Poppies’


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19 June 2014: Anglo-Saxon Derbyshire – Dave Barrett County Archaeologist for Derbyshire

In spite of the scarcity of Anglo Saxon archaeological sites in the local area, there was much to interest the audience for Dave Barrett’s talk.  Read more about the evidence of the sites from this period here:- Talk 19 June 2014

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