Tag Archives: medieval

Outline of medieval church revealed on building site

Outline of medieval church revealed on building site

THE outline of a medieval church has been revealed on the site of a new home for the elderly.

The foundations were discovered by workmen building an extra care scheme in Leyburn, North Yorkshire.

Archaeologists were brought in and their work has led to the clear outline of a Christian church dating back to before the Norman Conquest in 1066 being revealed.

Two bodies were also found at the site. It is thought the remains were of a young man and an older woman who were both found in a crouching position.

It is believed there were early Christian burials due to the east west alignment of the bodies.

Further work using the latest carbon dating techniques is taking place to more accurately establish how long ago the burials took place.

Experts from York-based On-Site Archaeology have worked alongside the builders carefully cataloguing the discoveries.

The extra care scheme is being built by Broadacres Housing Association.

Projects officer Graham Bruce said:

“The site is probably a family chapel possibly dating back to Saxon or early Norman times, as it is a clean area with relatively little waste. There is probably a rubbish dump nearby.

 “Interestingly, the Doomsday Book mentions two manors in Leyburn and this may relate to the abandoned settlement.”

The scientists’ work also unearthed two other small structures which pre-date the church.

It is possible they are bronze age and iron age dwellings.

Finds relating to these periods include animal bones, flint tools, and pottery shards.

Evidence of medieval farming was also discovered above the church foundations.

Archaeological work has now finished on the site, although the team are still examining the finds.

Mr Bruce added:

“All the items we have gathered will be offered to Broadacres, the site’s owners.

“The two bodies may be reburied somewhere on the site, as that it where they were buried originally.

“At some stage we will produce a report on the dig and our later work which will be available to the public.”

Source –  Northern Echo,  09 Feb 2015

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Opencast operation on land north of Newcastle reveals new prehistoric site

The Brenkley archaeological site
The Brenkley archaeological site

More evidence has emerged of what is described as a “dynamic” landscape of prehistoric settlements in the North East.

Excavations carried out by Headland Archaeology at the Brenkley Lane surface mining site to the north of Newcastle have revealed an Iron Age settlement across a five-hectare area which is centred on four roundhouses within a double rectangular enclosure.

The Iron Age dated from around 800BC to the Roman conquest.

The two month-long dig, on behalf of operators Banks Mining, has revealed a complex series of archaeological features spread across the site, with the remains being grouped into three main phases of activity.

Most of the remains uncovered relate to an extensive period of occupation during the Iron Age, with a series of large rectangular ditches enclosing several concentrations of ring gullies, which are the foundation trenches of the settlement’s buildings.

Pits and other features, such as boundary and enclosure ditches, have also been uncovered, suggesting that buildings had been rebuilt several times.

Objects uncovered include Iron Age quern stones for processing grain, a spindle whorl for weaving, ceramic vessels used in salt transportation and Bronze Age pottery, suggest that a mixture of domestic and food-processing activities were carried out in the area, with features nearby thought to relate to the management of livestock.

An early Bronze Age cemetery, dating from between 2,100BC and 750BC, is represented by three cremations, while a period of medieval activity between 500 and 1,500 years ago is shown by a grain-drying kiln and extensive rig-and-furrow agriculture.

In 2008, one of the most complete Iron Age settlements to be excavated in the North East, which comprised approximately 50 roundhouses in an enclosed two-hectare area, was unearthed at Banks’s now-restored Delhi surface mine on the Blagdon Estate near Seaton Burn.

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at The Banks Group, said:

“It’s fascinating to see how this area was worked and inhabited through the ages.

“We’ve worked closely with archaeologists across many of our sites for several years to ensure that detailed investigations are carried out and proper records kept.

“These discoveries simply wouldn’t be coming to light without the surface mining work .

“We’re very pleased that our coal mining operations at Brenkley Lane have led to these latest discoveries which further enhance the understanding of our region’s history.”

Ed Bailey, project manager at Headland Archaeology, said:

“The results of our work have added to the growing body of Iron Age sites around Newcastle that have been excavated in recent years which suggests a dynamic landscape of interrelated settlements across the area during this period.”

Previous discoveries as the Dellhi and Shotton surface mining sites have included a regular system of prehistoric landscape division.

Pit alignments ran perpendicular to the south bank of the River Blyth, which archaeologist Jon McKelvey suggests may have marked off areas such as pasture, woodland and access to water for communities.

Three large Iron Age settlements have also been revealed at Blagdon Park and East and West Brunton, with substantial banks and ditches designed to illustrate the wealth and power of the occupants.

It is now thought that in the late Iron Age the coastal plain, for at least 25km north of Newcastle, was covered with settlements at 1km intervals.

An Anglo-Saxon settlement was also found at Shotton consisting of six halls.

Source –  Newcastle Journal,  28 Nov 2014

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Black Death skeletons give up secrets of life and death

The medieval Black Death led to better health for future generations, according to an analysis of skeletons in London cemeteries.

Tens of millions of people died in the epidemic, but their descendants lived longer and had better health than ever before, a study shows,  survivors benefited from rising standards of living and better diets in the aftermath of the disaster.

The improvements in health only occurred because of the death of huge numbers of people, said a US scientist.

It is evidence of how infectious disease has the power to shape patterns of health in populations, said Dr Sharon DeWitte of South Carolina University.

The Black Death killed 30-to-50% of the European population in the 14th Century, causing terror as victims broke out in lumps and black spots, then died within days.

The elderly and the sick were most at risk of catching the bacterial infection, which was probably spread through sneezes and coughs, according to the latest theory.

The outbreak had a huge impact on society, leaving villages to face starvation, with no workers left to plough the fields or bring in the harvest.

However, despite analysis of historical records, little is known about the general health and death rates of the population, before and after the disease struck.

Dr DeWitte investigated how the deaths of frail people during the Black Death affected the population in London after the epidemic.

She analysed nearly 600 skeletons buried in London cemeteries to estimate age ranges, birth rates and causes of death for medieval Londoners living before and after the epidemic.

Samples dating several hundred years after the Black Death suggest survival and general health had improved dramatically by the 16th Century, with people living much longer than before the epidemic broke out.

The study, published in PLOS ONE journal, highlights the power of infectious diseases to shape patterns of health and population levels across history, said Dr DeWitte.

It really does emphasise how dramatically the Black Death shaped the population,” she told BBC News.

The period I’m looking at after the Black Death, from about 200 hundred years after the epidemic. What I’m seeing in that time period is very clear positive changes in demography and health.

She said although general health might have been improving, the aftermath of the epidemic would have been “horrifying and devastating” for those who survived.

Those improvements in health only occurred because of the death of huge numbers of people,” Dr DeWitte said.

This study suggests that even in the face of major threats to health, such as repeated plague outbreaks, several generations of people who lived after the Black Death were healthier in general than people who lived before the epidemic,” she added.

The bacterium that caused the Black Death, Yersinia Pestis, has evolved and mutated, and is still killing today.

According to the World Health Organization, the modern day disease is spread to humans either by the bite of infected fleas or when handling infected rodents.

Recent outbreaks have shown that plague may reoccur in areas that have long remained silent.

Source  –   BBC News   08 May 2014

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FRANKENSTEIN SOUND LAB – Dalden Tower

Another from the Spirit Of Place project.

Dalden Tower is a ruined  fortified medieval manor house on the outskirts of Seaham, County Durham.

The manor of Dalden was probably in existence in the 12th century, in possession of the Escolland family. The first documentary evidence dates from c.1320 when Sir Jordan de Dalden sought permission to build a private chapel.

Shortly after this the manor passed by marriage to the Bowes family. It was the Bowes family who were responsible for the building of the tower.

In 1615 it was passed again by marriage to the Collingwoods and subsequently was purchased by the Milbank family.

Lord Byron married into the Milbank family of Seaham, though they weren’t living here then…did he ever visit the tower ?

According to the Durham historian William Hutchinson, writing at the end of the 18th century, it had long been derelict.

Today, the ruins always remind be of  of standing stones, the three remaining sections of wall like a trio of monoliths.

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