Excursions

We arrange a number of visits to places in the region, so please do come along and support these, mostly in the spring and summer, though there is the occasional winter walk for the hardy. Please do contact us to suggest places, sites or excavations you would like to visit.

Visits in 2021

Having been unable to get together in 2020, and still uncertain about coach travel in 2021, we have concentrated on arranging walks and visits locally. We had a tour in the rain of Parkwood Springs and Wardsend Cemetery on 3 July, a visit to Colin Merrony's excavations at Beauchief Abbey on 3 September and a walk on Eaglestone Flat near Curbar Gap on 20 September in glorious sunshine. There are prehistoric cairnfields and field systems to explore as well as smelting works nearby at Jack Flat. Lastly we had a guided tour of Bishops' House in Meersbrook Park on 3 November, led by Ken Dash, where we were able to see the newly installed oak fireplace dating to 1655.

Excursions in 2019

We visited Museums Sheffield Stores on Wednesday 22 May, where Martha Jasco-Lawrence, Curator of Archaeology for Museums Sheffield, took us behind the scenes focussing largely on archaeology and some of the other collections.

On 11 June we had a visit to Buxton - Buxton Museum re-opened after a makeover in 2017 and now showcases its core collections of Peak District archaeology, geology, art and local history. We saw two temporary exhibitions - one was Hoards: the hidden history of ancient Britain - spectacular Iron Age gold torcs and hoards from Derbyshire and the Peak District were on display. The other was The Crescent: A Celebration; the fashionable centre of Georgian Buxton – a fine hotel where visitors could take the waters and dance the night away, was celebrated in this exhibition as The Cresent was being redeveloped. We also followed the heritage trail around the town.

We had an excursion to the Poulton Research Project and Chester on Saturday 3 August. The Poulton Research Project is investigating a multi-period archaeological landscape located in rural Cheshire approximately 4 miles south of Chester. Finds span a 10,000 year period, but the site is notable for an extensive Iron Age settlement, Romano-British landscape, Saxon finds and a medieval chapel with associated graveyard. Guided by site director Kevin Cootes, we saw what has been found recently. We also had a visit to Chester where we had a choice - to take a guided tour of the town, visit the Grosvenor House Museum, or Chester Cathedral which was founded as a Benedictine Abbey in 1092.

Visits in 2018

On Wednesday 14 March, we went to the Stocksbridge Heritage Centre, which opened recently in the Town Hall. We started with refreshments in the Council Chamber, and then were given a tour of the exhibits - a wide range of beautiful examples of Bolsterstone glass (some of the earliest made anywhere) and Midhope pottery, artefacts to do with wire drawing, flints from the area and Paragon umbrella frames invented at Samuel Fox’s and making him a very rich man. After seeing the original mill buildings of Fox’s, we enjoyed lunch together.

Tim Jeffery arranged a visit to the site of Roman Segelocum on Saturday 24 March. First we visited the village hall in Sturton le Steeple, Nottinghamshire, where Roman food, army uniform, finds from the site and geophys results were all on display, and then drove a short way to Littleborough beside the River Trent. The Romans had built a stone causeway across the river here to link the Roman road between Lincoln and Doncaster, and built a fort still clearly visible in the cropmarks. We explored a small redundant chapel of St Nicholas probably built partly of stone from the fort and fine early medieval herringbone masonry. Inside is an 11th century chancel arch, the columns with carved capitals.

On 20 April there was an opportunity to visit three interesting churches in the Rotherham area all dating back to 11th century, accompanied by Pat McLaughlin. These were the church of St Peter and St Paul in Todwick, All Hallows Church in Harthill and Thorpe Salvin church

A visit to West Yorkshire on 6 June included Halifax Piece Hall built in 1779, Colne Valley Museum based in weaver's cottages dating from the 1840s, and a boat trip into the Standedge Tunnel completed in 1811 on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

And on 21 July we had our annual visit to the excavations at Castleton, where Colin Merrony showed us the skeletons which continue to turn up on the medieval hospital site, and took us to see the site of New Hall which is being investigated.

Tim Jeffery organised an excellent coach tour on 26 September to see the places linked to Richard III. This included a guided tour around the King Richard III Visitor Centre and a visit to Leicester Cathedral where King Richard III's tomb is situated. The group then moved on to the Bosworth Battlefield and Heritage Centre, with exhibitions on the Battle of Bosworth and a circular walk to the battlefield.

And finally some members joined in a tour, organised by the Bolsterstone Archaeology and Heritage Group, of Rotherham on 24 November. We visited Rotherham Minster, with its fine stained glass and stone carving, the Three Cranes on High Street with the exhibition about its 15th century timber-framed construction, and finally the Chapel on the Bridge. One of only three in England (Wakefield and St Ives near Cambridge are the others), it has been saved by a group of Friends, one of whom gave us an excellent talk about its history and the town. We then had delicious homemade cake and drinks, and the opportunity to go down into the crypt which was once used as a goal.

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In 2017 we had a fantastic range of visits to excavations and sites, thanks mainly to the hard work of Liz Palmer.

On 25 May a large group assembled at the Castleton Medieval Hospital site, in the Spital Field on a very hot day. The dig at Castleton continues to try to establish the location and nature of the medieval hospital and this year revealed more wall footings and skeletal material. We also went over to see the exposed footings of the New Hall beyond the main car park.

On 12 June, a coach party drove up to Helmsley for a fascinating tour of the English Heritage store, which looks after finds from 120 sites in the north of England, in particular stonework. There was time to visit Helmsley Castle and the town centre before driving down to Rievaulx Abbey to tour the ruins and see the new museum there, which was small but very impressive.

On 8 July John Barnatt led a walk on Gardom's Edge, site of major excavations in 1995-2000 which have just been published. The group walked over field banks and cairns, rested in one of the prehistoric houses and pondered over the enigmatic line of pits and the rock art. John explained that the oval enclosure encompassing a large space on the edge was an early structure on the site, but not especially long-lived, while the line of pits was a later feature seemingly coming some time after the bronze age farming remains.

We returned to Little Carlton on 22 July - following Hugh Willmott's talk to the society on 14 March, we went to see the excavations in progress near Louth in Lincolnshire. Slight bumps in the landscape conceal a high status middle Anglo Saxon site, either a monastic or trading centre. Two trenches have been dug across the road from last year's dig, revealing the wall trenches of a Saxon hall, and an abundance of finds came from what was once a pond. We were shown two metal styli, pins, a silver bead, silver sceats of Scandinavian origin and a dressed stone- uncommon in an area with no natural building materials. Hunter volunteers at the University are helping clean and label the finds, and had already spotted the bags of animal bones stacked under the table from the pond area of the site! Afterwards we visited the redundant medieval church at Saltfleetby, and Louth museum which was Lincolnshire Heritage Museum of the year in 2012.

The Chesterfield Canal Trust has obtained funding to excavate in the original Bellhouse Basin of the canal in Staveley near Chesterfield, where it was hoped to find one of the old “Cuckoo boats” which were unique to the canal, and also investigate the towpath area and possible in situ masonry, with test pits targeted on other features shown on old maps. A Hunter visit on 12 August coincided with three trenches being open, two across the line of the canal and one in the basin - here two boats had been partially uncovered at the time of our visit. One was believed to be an old cuckoo boat made of wood and in a poor state of preservation. The other which had been iron-clad was thought to be a maintenance boat.

On 12-15 September, a group of 15 people toured archaeological sites around Bellingham and Kielder in Northumberland, expertly organized by our former president Frank Robinson. We visited a wide range of sites from bastles (fortified farmhouses) to Roman camps, from castles to ironworks. An account of the trip including details of the sites has been circulated to those in the group; please let the secretary know if you would like a copy.

We had a very pleasant and festive visit to Casterne Hall, a Grade II* listed building overlooking the Manifold Valley, on 18 December. Their Christmas tours and teas are 'a seasonal delight! Come and tour the house which is all fully decorated for Christmas and then enjoy a scrumptious Christmas tea in front of a roaring fire, with mulled wine, the sounds of carols and Christmas cheer. After a short talk by Charles Hurt about the history of the house and family you may tour the house at your leisure.' We would certainly agree. We were able to descend into the cellars which reputedly have the remains of a Roman arch.

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Our visits in 2016:

In May 2013 the Hunter Society visited the 15th century Dronfield Hall Barn prior to its restoration. A follow up visit was arranged for Saturday 24 September 2016, to see the refurbished building which now provides a unique resource for the local community, and an exhibition about the restoration.

On Saturday 6 August we had a fascinating day at the Ecton Mines near Warslow, led by John Barnatt. The day included a walk to the hilltop, looking at a variety of mine earthworks spanning 4000 years of mining. We ventured underground down Salts level to see the pipe working, and heard more about the 1788 Boulton and Watt engine house on the hilltop, the oldest well-preserved mine winding engine house in the world.

On Sunday 17 July Phil Sidebottom led a walk near Fox House, visiting Bronze Age settlements and funerary monuments at Toad’s Mouth and Winyard’s Nick and also the enigmatic Carl Wark fortified outcrop, and on Wednesday 27 July Pat Wagner led the Dissenters' Paradise Walk. Both of these were part of the Festival of Archaeology.

'Peeling Back the Layers' is a hands-on educational project, run by the Tudor Farming Interpretation Group (TFIG) near Longnor in Derbyshire. A wide range of people are investigating the history and archaeology of Whitle, Sheen and the surrounding landscape. An archaeological survey undertaken by Jim Rylatt identified a number of possible medieval or post-medieval features at Under Whitle and the dig has been planned to investigate these. We visited on Wednesday 6 July.

On Tuesday 28 June we returned to Thornton Abbey, where the Sheffield University team is continuing to investigate the medieval hospital of St James and its associated cemetery. In the afternoon, we visited Little Carlton, a previously unknown high status middle Saxon settlement located as a result of a metal-detectorist turning up a silver stylus.

We visited the dig at Castleton which continues trying to establish the location and nature of the medieval hospital in the Spital Field on Tuesday 31 May.

On Sunday 8 May we visited Ilkley Moor, which is covered with evidence of prehistoric occupation – stone circles, cairns and particularly rock carvings. In recent years a project has been undertaken to try to record all the rock art on the moor. This was reported on in British Archaeology March/April 2015. We took one of the trails to see some of the rock art, including the Swastika stone and other stones behind railings in a park in Ilkley.

On 9 April, we gathered in Silkstone for a tour of the village to see the amazing waggonway, constructed in 1809 to haul coal waggons along the valley some 2.5 miles to the canal at Barnby Basin. Our walk was led by Jim Ritchie of the Roggins Local History Group. Sleeper stones marked the line of the tracks along which horses pulled the waggons. We were then treated to a tour of All Saints Church, 'minster of the moors', which dates back to the 12th century; it is fitted out with a well resourced archive study room and houses memorials to the 26 children drowned in the Huskar pit disaster in 1838. After a cup of tea in the church, it was time to finish off the waggonway walk down to the now infilled canal basin, where the coal was shipped out and lime brought back for burning.