Welcome to the Gawthorpe Excavation pages. These pages provide information about the archaeological excavations and research project at the site of the manor house that preceded Harewood House, Gawthorpe Hall.
The Gawthorpe Excavations feed into a larger research project devoted to on-going archaeological research into the landscape and environs of Harewood House. This research aims to understand the transition within the landscape that saw the medieval Gawthorpe Hall destroyed, and the Lascelles family move up the hill to the ‘New house at Gawthorp‘, the magnificent 18th century mansion we see today, Harewood House.
Relatively few manor houses that span the late medieval to early-modern period have been available for excavation, so Gawthorpe Hall offers us a unique opportunity to find out more about how the people lived during this period.
The excavation brings together partners from Harewood House Trust, Site Director Dr Jonathan Finch and excavation supervisors, postgraduate researchers and student excavators from the University of York, and excavation supervisors from York Archaeological Trust.
The archaeological research at Gawthorpe is complemented by the documentary evidence. Two prints from the 1720s, just before the Lascelles purchase the estate, give an idea about how the hall might have looked.
These two prints are of the same building, the first giving a view from the south, looking north (note All Saints church on the hill at the top right of the print), and the second print looking the opposite way, a view from the north looking south. There are certainly similarities between these two prints, such as the core ‘u’ shape with an additional wing on the main hall, and what looks like a stable block to the north. Both also have formal gardens and agricultural land surrounding the house. However, discrepancies between the two prints show how such sources must also be treated with caution as a true reflection of the building that once stood here. Was the building built in brick or stone? Was the roof tiled or slated? Were the buildings that made up the hall a set of continuous buildings with a later wing tacked on, or was it made up of lots of different buildings clustered together?
By excavating the remains of the Hall we should be able to answer some of these questions about the form and style of the building and will also give us an idea of how the hall might have changed during time, unlike the prints which can only offer a representation of the building at a specific moment in time.
Alongside the two prints, there are also a huge amount of letters, accounts, maps and personal papers written by the owners of Gawthorpe Hall and their stewards, who would have managed their estates.