Dig up a piece of history, underneath your feet

Were you at Chopwell WoodFest this weekend? If so, you were one of the 1,400 people who descended on the woodland to learn old ‘new’ skills, such as spinning wool, weaving willow, turning a clay pot and traditional wood working! We hope you had a fantastic time – we know we certainly did…

Learning traditional skills at Chopwell WoodFestHot on the heels of one of the biggest events in our calendar, we wanted to let you, your family and friends know about another opportunity for you to roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and quite literally dig up a piece of history from right beneath your feet.

Take part in an archaeology dig which is running until Sunday 15th July at Axwell Park near Winlaton Mill in association with The Archaeological Practice, and discover the route of the 18th century Lands Way. This historical waggonway dating back to the early eighteenth century, seems to have been built on two levels. It is thought the waggonway was used to transport coal from the Lands Wood pit to the staithes on the lower Derwent or the River Tyne.

It’s a great chance to get quite literally hands-on with the history of our local area, helping to dig up pieces of the past, so collectively we can work together with these findings to help us shape how we look after the area long into the future, creating a lasting legacy for people to enjoy in years to come.

If you’re curious as to what it’s all about (other than getting your hands dirty and having great fun in the process, of course!) the purpose of the archaeological dig is to find traces of the waggonway such as diagnostic features and any dating evidence to establish exactly when it was constructed.

Pontop Smithy Archaeology ExcavationA previous dig with a team of volunteers in October 2016, uncovered the remains of a substantial building, thought to be Pontop Smithy. This building was associated with the early 18th century Pontop waggonway – a route which played a significant role in the industrial and economic development of the region.

You don’t have to be an experienced archaeologist to take part in creating our own little piece of history. All you need is to have an interest and to want to get involved. All tools, equipment and guidance will be provided by our colleagues at The Archaeological Practice and it’s sure to be a fun, informative and hopefully revealing experience for you and all the family to enjoy.

Please register  as numbers are limited and we’d hate for you to be disappointed. Wear suitable outdoor clothing, sensible footwear, and dress appropriately for the weather, given the sunnier climes we’ve been experiencing recently – pack plenty of sun cream as it is all working outdoors. Please also remember that food is not provided at the dig, and so you’ll need to bring your own packed lunch along with plenty to drink too.