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EDAS FIELD TRIP 2005
The 2005 field trip to the Lake District in June was yet another EDAS success. We can do no more than give a brief account of the event, which was full of interest.
We met at a hostelry on our first night and, not forgetting those who were unable to come and feeling sorry for them, we drank their health.
The field trip proper started on Sunday, the next day, when fourteen of us followed Gill and Alan some five miles along a disused rail track. As we strolled along Gill demonstrated the work she had put into researching the project and we were given a comprehensive rundown on the local industrial history and archaeology. The morning walk finished at Castlerigg stone circle.
We were all mightily impressed with Castlerigg. Though the weather was wet and misty it did not detract from its magnificence and we did not need to be told that situated on the summit of Chestnut hill on a fine day the views were breath taking. The circle consisted of a thirty-eight (originally forty-two) stones with no surrounding bank and no central burial. It is not known if it was built for local use or of more regional significance. Nor is it known what the use had been (not an unusual situation with this sort of monument, though ritual leaps rather easily to mind). Collingwood considered them to be used for seasonal gatherings and perhaps trade with stone axes; given the proximity of the Langdale Pikes this could have easily been the case. In one quadrant is a collection of stones obviously part of the monument, but of unknown significance.
The afternoon saw us at St. Kentigerns Church situated on an ancient roadway by the lakeside at Braithwaite. Dedicated to Saint Bega (written about by one of my heroes, Melvin Bragg) who was the daughter of a 7thC Irish chieftain and as some other saints refused marriage and dedicated herself to God. In common with some other saints, she is credited with miracles. Some of the group then visited Mirehouse and gardens while others climbed higher to watch the Ospreys, inevitably all meeting up at the teashop.
The evening saw us at a Keswick fish and chip shop followed, for those with enough energy, by a stroll
Monday saw us in Carlisle, with someone that we all agreed was one of the best castle guides we have ever had. His knowledge of the architecture, archaeology and history both of the castle and surrounding area seemed infinite. It was delivered with an infectious enthusiasm that caught us all. The evening saw us picnicking at a glorious beauty spot, Ashness Bridge.
On Tuesday we went to Maryport and the Stenhouse Museum, with one of the best collections of Roman sculptures in England and recently televised by Time Team. This was followed by a visit to Elizabethan Salt Workings and Roman Milecastle.
That evening saw us at Goldscope Mine where we were given a guided tour. (I say ‘we’, but it has to be said that the mine’s terrain was felt by some of us to be best missed. Little is known about mining in the Lake District before the mid-16thC though there is evidence of Roman Copper mining and work in the 13th to 15thC. Goldscope mine is very old lead and copper workings; the earliest mention is in 13thC documents which refers to gold, silver and copper mining.
Wednesday was a day off and we went our own ways. For members who may later go to Keswick we can recommend the Mining museum which has an old style appeal; many small rooms each packed out with a vast amount of mining bygones. The pencil museum is well worth going to, not only for its contents but also its interest to Dorset. It was from the Graphite industry that the Banks family made their fortune. (It may interest members that our member David Reeve was responsible for supplying them with copies of many Bank’s documents.)
Thursday saw us visiting the Langdale factory, or rather the base of the hill on the summit of which the Neolithic axes were`made. While not impossible, the climb up was not undertaken, and it was not difficult to envisage the difficulty of access. The afternoon saw a steam train ride, which reminded many of us of transport in our youth. The time included visits to the Roman Bath House (Glannavento) at Ravenglass which is well preserved and has walls almost 4 metres high.
Friday saw us at Brougham and Brough Castles. These are medieval structures, and they were held by the same two families for almost the whole of their history. Brougham stands in a river valley in a peaceful landscape of fields and woods, while Brough occupies`a bleak and exposed position. Both contain the old English word ‘burh’ meaning a fortified place. The original site of Brougham was aquired in 1214 by Robert de Vieuuxpont to defend the King against notrthern insurgents and played an important part in the Anglo-Scottish wars. George, the third earl, was born here; however, in his time the castle was neglected. It later came to life in the first half of the 17thC, then was neglected again. In 1859 the grounds were being used as a farmyard but in 1928 it was taken over by the Ministry of Works.
Brougham Castle is a complex structure, having been built and rebuilt many times over the years, the oldest part dating from 1100. Like Brougham it has a bloody history in the Anglo-Scottish wars.
From these castles we drove to Mayburgh Henge and King Arthur’s Table.
Mayburgh Henge consists of a single circular bank of just over 6m. in height and 50m. across, its base having an average diameter of about 87m. there is no ditch. The bank being made from cobbles from the nearby river. There is a single central monolith nearly 3m. high, though there is evidence this was once part of a group. The only finds have been a bronze axe and roughed out flint axe.
King Arthur’s Round Table is a much-mutilated henge standing in a field in Eamont Bridge. It is an impressive earthwork consisting of a bank surrounding a circular ditch, which is 12m wide and about 1.3m deep. The bank reaches its greatest height of 2m at the entrance. Collingwood excavated here in 1937, and shortly after was a further excavation by Bursa and the damage to the monument explained. This included partial destruction by road building and its use as a tea garden by a nearby pub.
Long Meg and her daughter are eclipsed only by Avebury and Stanton Drew as the largest stone circle in Britain. Long Meg is a Menhir, a standing stone of sandstone a little over 3.5 metres high. Her daughters are a stone circle of sixty-nine extant stones, and there had probably been more. Twenty-seven are still standing. There is evidence that some have been removed by blasting and others cut up and used as millstones. Like most other such monuments it is associated with many folktales, such as that the daughters are a coven of witches turned to stone by a magician.
Unlike Castlerigg there was a surrounding bank.
Long Meg is easily seen from a distance and is interpreted as a signpost. There are incised concentric circles and at least one cup and ring mark.
The last night dinner went off in usual raucous style and we drank and ate well. Thanks to Gill and Allan, a superb week. Next year Steve Smith will lead us, but who is volunteering for 2007?
Sat 16th July - EDAS Barbecue
The July barbecue was attended by over 50 people, who unanimously agreed it was a super occasion. Down Farm was a first rate location and the weather could not have been better. We were met by Martin flying low overhead in a microlight and no doubt we shall see photographs of the scene below him. Old stagers were grateful for the lack of wind, allowing smoke from the log fire to drift lazily upward, and not, as so often the case, billowing among members. Once more the organisation went smoothly and as usual we were able to visit Martin’s museum, which as ever generated wide interest. It is somewhere that one can not tire of looking around.
The chefs were at their best, suitably clad for the occasion, and ably supported by their wives whose spread of culinary delights were enjoyed by all.
These things would alone have made it a successful evening but the addition of Karen Brown’s five piece band made it an extremely lively and enjoyable occasion. As the evening wore on and we sat around the fire listening to a range of musical instruments and vocal accompaniments that had us all tapping our feet we did not want to go home. But eventually we did, with a great deal of satisfaction in having celebrated yet another EDAS success.
We thank Martin & Karen for the use of their property, Haydn, Wendie, Henry & Gail for the work they put in to bring it about and Karen and her team for the most pleasant of musical evenings.
From Haydn and Wendie:
We would like to thank Henry for his cooking skills, Karen Brown and the band who were fantastic - they had us all enthralled with their music and singing under a starry Dorset sky, Martin and Karin for their hospitality and preparations in advance, and last but not least all members who provided delicious salads and scrummy puddings. Martin opened his museum as usual and proudly displayed his latest find , a superb polished axe, to all who asked to see it and many that didn’t. Well it was rather special! Thanks again to all who supported the event and as a result over £100 pounds were added to the EDAS funds.
Sun 24th July - Saxon Wimborne with David Reeve
To the interest and bemusement of some spectators the afternoon of the 24th July found 16 members of EDAS gathered on the green in front of Wimborne Minster with Dr David Reeve with measuring tapes in hand. We were plotting out the area covered by the Widow Mary Darley’s cottage which had faced onto Cook Row. The fact that this cottage had been bought by the Minster as late as the 19th century has led David to suggest that the boundary of the land occupied by the original establishment could have been much closer to the present day Minster than has previously been thought.
We had joined David for an investigation into the origins of Saxon Wimborne, which developed following the foundation of a Benedictine "Double House" in 705 AD by St Cuthburga, the sister of the West Saxon ruler Ine. Over the years attempts have been made to identify the area covered by the religious establishment and the position of the "stout walls" separating the monks and nuns of the double house. However, little evidence for any habitation before the 12th century has been revealed in the small scale excavations that have taken place around the Minster. Incidentally the excavations have also not revealed any evidence to confirm the traditionally held view that the establishment was destroyed by the Danes in 1013.
David, an expert on the development of Wimborne, especially in the 17th century, has used evidence from old maps and records to throw new light on the old problem and suggests that the boundaries of the original site are not where they have been traditionally assumed to be.
Measuring finished, the group walked past the Minster, through the car park to where the rise in the land above the flood plain of the River Stour is apparent. This is where David suggests the site of the outer limits of the Minster land could well have been, with the boundary continuing onwards towards present day Deans Court. To support this theory a curved linear feature is clearly visible on aerial photographs and detailed on old maps.
Three early chapels were said to have existed in the growing civilian settlement and the sites of these were then visited. The first, St Catherines, is thought to have been on a site very close to the current Catholic Church of St Catherines, with the second, St Peter’s, being situated in Wimborne Square. The latest to be built, St Mary’s, David suggests was on the site now occupied by Drydens electricity shop and represents a later expansion of the town. It is quite likely that the boundaries of the religious establishments of the town, as well as the site of a market which probably existed in the East Borough area, could well account for many of what at first appear to be random twists and turns in the streets of Wimborne.
We thank David for a very interesting and informative afternoon tour. This year sees the celebration of the 1300th anniversary of the foundation of the original Minster and this EDAS outing tied in very nicely with the anniversary celebrations.
THE TEDDY BEAR PICNIC WALK, Rockbourne and Whitsbury on 21st Aug 2005
In conjunction with E.B.A.S. (Edward Bear Archaeology Society), Aunty Sonia and Eight Teddies with their owners took a lovely walk around Rockbourne and Whitsbury on a perfect Summers Day. Amazing views across the countryside were mixed with glimpses of the Racing Stables and inhabitants, including the Champion horse Monsieur Bond.
Sonia packed our Teddies minds with interesting facts about all the places we visited amongst them being the Iron Age Castle Ditches.
A magic moment occurred when traversing through the dense (and slightly frightening) woods singing the bears picnic song we were led unto a glade where we were astonished to find the mysterious Mizmaze. Unfortunately the site has been fenced off and Sonia could not demonstrate the ritual cavorting around this ancient site but left it to our imagination.
Passing the ‘Giants Grave’ Long Barrow we proceeded to St. Leonards Church where we enjoyed the cooling shade in the well tended churchyard. It was only a short step away from the Cartwheel Inn where after tumbling down the hill the Teddy Bears drank gratefully the lashings of iced fizzy lemonade. It was a tiny hop back to the start of the journey where the very tired little bears hurried home to be tucked up in bed by their Mummies and dream of a wonderful fun day – thanks to Sonia.
Next EDAS Lecture
Our first lecture of the Autumn season is Blood of the Vikings, with Julian Richards. Julian will also be bringing along some of his books for members to buy, no doubt signed by the author! As Julian is not asking for a fee he has asked if EDAS can make a donation to a charity of his own choice. EDAS will be making a donation but if individual members would also like to donate please feel free.
Sun 25th Sep - Walk with Steve Smith around Bere Regis and Turners Puddle
A 5 mile easy walk over the remnants of Egdon Heath, taking in the tiny hamlet of Turners Puddle and chance to explore the intersting village of Bere Regis. Meet at the central car park in Bere Regis (SY 847948) at 10:30am. Bring a packed lunch.
For any queries please contact Steve on 07798 832958.
Sat 18th. March 2006. Day School.
Pits, Pots and People - 10,000 years at Bestwall, Wareham. Dorchester Museum, £14. This promises to be quickly oversubscribed, hence the early advertising. A host of excellent speakers. Application form from Dorchester Museum, also some will be brought to the next EDAS meeting.
EDAS EXCAVATION AT Tarrant Monkton September 19th to 30th.
Members are invited to view the on-going excavations at any reasonable time between 9.30 and 5pm each day, those who arrive at tea or lunch breaks will be expected to brew tea, wash up, massage aching shoulders, and apply refined cod liver oil to creaking knees!!
As ever, if you have any queries, please contact me on 01929 400507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
The monthly evening lectures start at 7.30pm.
Walks and field visits usually meet at 10.30 am at the published Grid Reference. Ring the leader if the weather is doubtful or if more details are required.
Wed 14 Sep
EDAS Lecture: "Blood of The Vikings", with Julian Richards
Sun 25 Sep
Walk with Steve Smith. See earlier for details.
Wed 12 Oct
EDAS lecture: Talk by Professor Bruce Bradley of Exeter University. Subject to be confirmed.
Sun 23 Oct
Walk with Karen Brown. More details later.
Wed 9 Nov
EDAS lecture: "The men of Stonehenge: the Amesbury Archer and the Boscombe Bowmen", with Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick of Wessex Archaeology.