This site uses cookies. No personal data is stored. You can read how we use them in our cookies policy. Continuing on this site accepts their use. Thankyou.

Viewing website implies consent to set cookies on your computer. Full details Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Archaeology Group
Registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation Number 1155775
SWAAG Honorary President:
Tim Laurie F,S,A,
Fieldwork Reports SWAAG Publications Local History Group Swaledale History Blog Newsletters

Searchable Archives
SWAAG HER Database Swaledale Tithes Database Muker & Healaugh Manorial Court Swaledale Museum Images

SWAAG Facebook

Isotope analysis
In October we were delighted to welcome back Professor Janet Montgomery, from Durham University. On this occasion she was accompanied by her colleague, Dr Joanna Moore. Together they explained how their isotope expertise is commissioned by commercial archaeology companies, universities, and museums. To illustrate the wide scope of their work they explored six projects undertaken by the Isotope and Peptide Research Laboratory (AIPRL). Analysis of isotopes in dental enamel enables the geographical origin and diet of an individual to be determined, as well as their health and level of exposure to pollutants. One of the most fascinating examples was that of Lady Eleanor Talbot, who was alleged to have had a pre-marriage contract with Edward IV. Eleanor was born in Shropshire and was thought to be buried in Whitefriars Priory, in Norwich. Strontium and oxygen isotope analysis of a tooth indicated however that she had lived in the Norwich area most of her life. Further analysis then revealed that the skeleton was male! The evidence was carefully re-examined, but the same conclusions were reached. The man to whom the tooth belonged was probably in his early 30s and his diet showed a shift towards fish consumption, consistent with a move to a religious institution. At some point several skeletons were probably tipped into the under croft of the priory and later one was incorrectly identified as being Eleanor’s. Fortunately, this evidence came to light prior to the skeleton’s proposed reburial. Sadly, there isn’t room to describe the other examples given in this fascinating talk.

Click an image to enlarge in a new tab
News Record: 175     Updated: 10-11-2023 14:33:54

Surveying at Grinton
At the end of September, SWAAG carried out further surveying on the Grinton east mound. It was run partly as a training course, offering the opportunity for members to use the magnetometry and the resistivity equipment. The final day was spent learning how to process and interpret the data.
Resistivity survey Magnetometry survey
Click an image to enlarge in a new tab
News Record: 174     Updated: 10-11-2023 14:32:33

Bones and more bones
Several years ago, SWAAG helped Northern Archaeological Associates, now ECUS, to wash bones from their excavation at Hart village, to the north west of Hartlepool. In September Holly Drinkwater, their Site Supervisor, came to talk to us about the cemetery where they were found. The site was to be developed for housing and whilst trial trenches had recovered some bones, the scale of the discoveries when the main excavation started was completely unexpected.

Although most of 250+ adult burials stem from the early Medieval period, there is evidence that use of the site dates from the Bronze Age. Once the positions of all the burials were plotted it was evident that there was distinct clustering, for example infant burials were concentrated along the western ditch and whilst in the east there were distinct rows of plots containing adults, which might have been family or kinship groups. There were no burials in the central area suggesting that a building, perhaps a chapel or mortuary, might have occupied the space. Higher status graves were found nearby. There weren’t large numbers of grave goods, as might be expected in a Christian cemetery, however pillow stones, silver coins, counters, beads, tiny silver pins, an antler comb and gold thread were amongst those found. A 7th century name stone for ‘Glaedhild’ was also discovered. Nails, lock plates and hinges were more common as about 58 of the adults were buried in coffins.

Excavation was complicated and sometimes confusing, as later burials were inserted into earlier graves. In other graves bones from more than one individual were placed together in a deliberate but sometimes strange manner. Some bodies showed evidence of disease and injury and one mass grave contained five bodies which had been subject to trauma. Another contained the remains of blackbird wings. Radiocarbon dating will help to date the different areas of the cemetery and isotope analysis will perhaps establish whether those buried there had been born in the local area or perhaps had originated from overseas.

Holly brought along some of the finds which are shown below.

J. H.
Glaedhild 7th century name stone Metalwork from coffins and pillow stones
Click an image to enlarge in a new tab
News Record: 173     Updated: 22-10-2023 15:26:23

Search SWAAG  

  Buck Hotel Reeth