So, it’s the end of our first week and time for a walk over the site.

In the northern extent of Trench 2 there are still areas of demolition rubble covering the western edge of the trench (the foreground right area on the picture below). Within this rubble are patches of bricks, and abutting the wall that runs from north to south through the trench is also a patch of cobbles and broken stone. The cobbles and broken stone seem to show where another part of the wall has been robbed out. Perhaps the stones were used to line one of the field drains that run through the trenches, which were put in during the reconstruction of the modern parkland, to direct water down to the lake. The capped drain that runs diagonally across the trench has now been fully exposed and defined. It seems to run beneath the wall and is therefore likely to be an earlier feature. The artefacts coming from this area are contemporary with the destruction of the hall. There are many pieces of pottery and bottle glass along with metal nails and other small objects. They appear to be much more broken up than the artefacts from other areas of the site, as though these had been crushed up with the rubble before being put into the ground, whereas in other areas it seems as though plates and bottles have been thrown straight on to the rubble, creating much larger sherds and pieces.

Trench two at the end of week one

At the other end of Trench 2 is the furnace. We originally discovered the brick lined portion of this feature last year, but as we have extended the trench we have discovered this feature extends much further south down the slope. We have been recording the rubble layer today and will start to excavate this feature further next week to try and determine what this furnace was used for and how it relates to the hall.

Trench two- brick lined furnace

In the centre of the trenches, there are walls abutting the cobbled area we discovered last year starting to become visible, and the continuation of the field drain running through the trench. There is also a pit or midden area which is producing a great deal of finds. Next to this feature is another capped drain which has now been fully exposed and is ready to be recorded.

In Trench 6, on the far side of the site (east) we are continuing to expose a paved floor and surrounding walls. It seems there are also two shallow lined pits, filled with ash and burnt material. We are still trying to establish what these features might be in context with the building around them.

As you can see, we still have plenty to do, which will keep us busy for the next two weeks, so please keep checking back to the blog to see our latest progress.

The marquee is open throughout the day, every day except Wednesday, so please come down to come and see some of the artefacts. We are also running workshops for adults and children at 2pm followed by a site tour every day.


Today the focus has been on defining the features we have revealed beneath the demolition layers.  After removing the top soil and rubble with mattocks, the students have trowelled the loose soil still covering the walls, drains and midden areas. These features will then be recorded by hand with measured scale drawings, written descriptions of the features and surrounding areas, and photographs. As we continue to remove the layers surrounding these features it is important that we have records of what we have removed from site so we can begin to understand the phases of the building itself, and the chronology of the destruction of the house.

Day Two

Despite the drizzly, overcast weather, the students have made great progress today.

In Trench 8 at the centre of the dig site, Group B have revealed a midden area, where a substantial amount of household rubbish has been dumped. You can see from the picture below how rich this area is in artefacts. Broken bottle glass, as well as a huge amount of pottery, animal bones, oyster and cockle shells, and nails and horse shoe. The material from this area has certainly kept us busy with finds processing in the marquee!

Further down the slope from the midden, but still within Trench 6, Group D have been removing the rubble left from the demolition of the house to reveal a flagged floor surface.

Across the southern extent of Trench 8 and Trench 2, our students have been working very hard to remove the thick layer of demolition rubble still covering this area. Beneath the rubble, a number of bricks and flag stone are beginning to show up, scattered across this area.


In the northern area of trench 2, another soot covered deposit has been uncovered and cleaned back. This deposit is very similar to the layer we discovered last year, which is visible in the cobbled room behind. Beyond these rooms, students are removing the demolition rubble covering any remains of the house which might be still below this.


The sun has finally come out after a weekend of torrential rain at Harewood, for the first day of the 2012 fieldschool. After the students arrived, they were given a talk by a steward of Harewood House, on the history of the Lascelles family and the house. The talk was very interesting, particularly focused on the personal lives of the first earls of Harewood, Henry and Edwin Lascelles, and how they came to build their new home at Gawthorpe in the mid-eighteenth century. The students were then taken down to site by the project director, Jon Finch and were given a tour around the trenches. They were shown the areas which were excavated during the 2011 season and the areas we will be focusing on this year.

Today’s main job was to get the new trenches cleared of the topsoil that had been left by the digger. Once the site is cleared of topsoil we will be able to clearly see the underlying archaeological features, such as walls, drains or surfaces. This will allow us to focus on specific areas of archaeology, which we can then investigate further. The brick flue we excavated in Trench 2 last year, seems to extend into a larger brick lined feature appearing in the newly uncovered extension from this area. Across the other trenches there are a number of patches of cobbles beginning to show through, as well as a series of large flat stones just beginning to be excavated. The field drains constructed during the landscaping of the 18th century park, continue to show up across the site and are particularly rich in artefacts such as pottery and broken glass bottles.

Group E busy at work on the extended Trench 2

We have been very lucky with the weather today, and this has allowed us to get a good start on the site! Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to get really stuck in with the archaeology and start excavating features.




With everything really beginning to gear up for the excavation this year, I thought as this is the first blog post, I should direct you to some other web pages which outline what we have achieved with the excavation so far, and to give a bit of background to what we hope to do this year.

I recently wrote an article for The Culture Vulture online blog which gives a good overview of the site history.

David Altoft, one of our student excavators from last year, has written a more in-depth article entitled Gawthorpe Hall: A Modern Estate in the Making (Part 1 of 2) in the student led journal run from The Department of Archaeology at The University of York.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the landscape setting of Gawthorpe, it might also be worth having a look at this fantastic panoramic image by Russ Drury. He shared the link to his picture on twitter, and I thought others might like to see his work. Just to the right of the statue of Orpheus, on the lawn between the terrace gardens and the lake, you can just see where our trenches are. This image gives you a good idea about how the Hall would have sat within the topography of the valley. The landscape you can see so clearly in this image though is the remodeled 18th century landscape, which looks drastically different from how the landscape would have looked during the life of Gawthorpe Hall.

Finally, I would encourage anyone who wants to talk about this research on twitter to use the hashtag #GawDig12 as it would be fantastic to get some discussion of the site going on twitter too. For those of you not on twitter, please do feel free to post comments here, and I will do my best to answer these!

Over and out…. for now,

Emily Rayner