|At the beginning of July, eight SWAAG members joined leaders Anne Jowett and Jane Harrison for a guided walk along the river Greta. The starting point was Bowes Castle, which also offered the opportunity to look at the remains of the Roman Fort of Lavatris. The destination was East Mellwaters Farm, where the sites of several late prehistoric settlements can be seen in the fields along the Sleightholme Beck. We were given permission by the landowner to explore the largest of these, which consists of a stone-banked enclosure with several hut circles. There is also a ditched settlement on the scarp edge to the south and another unenclosed settlement, consisting of house platforms and yards, to the north. The relationship between the sites is unknown. They have not been excavated but are thought to be Iron Age or Romano-British in age.
We also looked at the geology along the valley, where the river Greta has eroded through an upfold or anticline in the Carboniferous rocks. The more resistant limestones in the Yoredale sequences give rise to the escarpments along the valley sides as well as to small rapids along the river’s course. The mudstones overlying the Four Fathom Limestone, along the Sleightholme Beck, are particularly fossiliferous. Some of the group spotted fossils in the rocks along the stream bed as the water level was conveniently low. Glaciation has also affected the landscape as the the broader area of the Stainmore trough was overrun by ice from the Eden Valley during the last Ice Age.