A geophysics survey conducted during 2008 led to preliminary test pits in 2009 and 2010.
The results of these excavations showed a very thick demolition layer, just below the ground surface. This layer was full of a variety of small finds, including glass bottles, pottery, iron nails, coins, buttons, pins and window glass and lead. Below this layer were a number of substantial walls and flagged flooring.
From these results we aimed trenches over what we thought might be possible walls and masonry in order to establish the physical extent of the footprint of the Hall. We also used other documentary evidence, such as the 1720s prints of Gawthorpe, to try and pinpoint areas of the house which might display different aspects of life within the Hall.
Trench Two was extended from the test pit excavated in 2010, to cover what we believed to be one of the working areas of the house, possibly the stables illustrated in the 1720s print. Once excavated, this trench contained the walls of two adjoining rooms, one with flag flooring and the other with cobbled flooring. These both opened up onto a cobbled courtyard with a metal covered drain. On this surface, excavators found many small metal pins, suggesting that perhaps this had been an area where clothes had been washed and beaten out, with the pins falling from the clothes between the cobbles. A small furnace also sits within this cobbled yard and towards the extent of the trench more walls were also beginning to show through. Watch this video of Trench Two to see how the trench looked on the final day of the 2011 excavation.
Trench Eight was placed on what we hoped might be the center of the Hall, which documentary evidence suggested might be a traditional ‘U’ shaped building which could date back to the medieval period. This trench is perhaps the most confusing archaeologically, as it demonstrates a number of floor surfaces, including cobbled surfaces and flagstone flooring, and a number of walls across the trench. Further excavation will hopefully tell us more about the spatial relationship of these features and help us understand what the footprint of Gawthorpe Hall looked like. Watch this video of Trench Eight to see how the trench looked on the final day of the 2011 excavation.
Trench Six was placed over an area of the Hall which we thought might be a later addition to the medieval hall, which is possibly the additional wing build during alterations made by Sir Thomas Wentworth, First Earl of Strafford, one of the owners of Gawthorpe Hall during the seventeenth century. This trench displays quite a confusing set of overlapping walls and drains, covering both internal and external areas of the Hall. More excavation extending this area will help us understand how these features relate to the footprint of the Hall. Watch this video of Trench Six to see how the trench looked on the final day of the 2011 excavation.