Ribblehead Excavation 2007

The Group was commissioned by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to undertake a mitigation excavation of a structure within the Ribblehead construction camps. Identified as a "stone spread" and "possible building" by an archaeological survey of the entire area in 1995, the structure had been disturbed in recent years by persons unknown, possibly metal detectorists chasing high signals with the rubble. The Group's brief was to identify if it was a building, and to try and interpret its external and internal form.

The exercise was carried out over a week at the end of May and all of the aims were, pleasingly, achieved. All the stone was cleared out, by hand, to reveal the four wall lines and the floor of the building.

The floor proved to have two forms: one smaller section made of limestone blocks laid on end and covered with a layer of lime mortar to prevent rising damp, and a larger section with limestone blocks laid flat with no mortar. We were able to show that there had been a window overlooking the viaduct in the front wall of the building, and a door further along the same wall. The building was interpreted - by its detailed form and by artefacts - as an office at the mortared end and a storeroom in the greater part. Large quantities of tableware were recovered from within the building, as well as a beautiful stoneware inkwell, various glass bottles and vessels, and a range of cast- and wrought iron tools and items. In the doorway there was a brick-lined drain which is thought to have been inserted as an afterthought for swilling out mud tramped into the building on workers' boots. There was also a sturdy metal ring, set on a rod driven through the rear wall into the banking behind it. It was not possible to determine what purpose this had served, though one suggestion was that it had secured a safe.

All finds were identified and categorised, and a full report has been written for submission to the client, the YDNPA, with a copy lodged within the Group archive.