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Field School at Historic Dilston

December 27, 2007

GeophysicsThis year the field school will be focusing on excavating and recording the remains of the Jacobean Range at Dilston Castle, near Hexham, Northumberland. Dilston Castle and its associated group of historic buildings have a history stretching back about 800 years.

 The romantic and melancholy story of the 3rd Earl of Derwentwater, who was executed in 1716 for his part in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, still dominates the public perception of the site.

There is a growing concern about the need for the conservation of the buildings and of the dramatic landscape setting of parklands, escarpment woodland and riverbanks.
The quality of the historic and natural assets of the site is demonstrated by the numerous statutory designations. Both the Castle and the Chapel were included in English Heritage’s register of Buildings at Risk and much work is required to ensure the survival of these buildings for future generations.

During the summer of 2007, the Field School started work recording the initial arch of the Jacobean service range of TeamDilston Castle, as well as defining in plan the remains of any related buildings.

The work is the first step in an ambitious conservation project aimed at opening these structures to public viewing and interpretation and safeguarding their long-term survival: a project which will continue in the 2008 Field School.

The project aims to provide archaeology students, and prospective entrants into archaeology courses at university, the opportunity to gain valuable fieldwork experience by participating in the project; skills available to be taught are:

Topographical Surveying Techniques
Excavation Techniques
Archaeological Planning Techniques
Environmental and Finds Processing Techniques
Building Recording Techniques
Computer Aided Drawing (Digitising)
Geophysical Surveying Techniques

ParticipantsAdditionally, the Summer 2008 Field School will also be investigating the Smallcleugh Blacksmith’s Shop, Nenthead, Cumbria. The smithy now only survives as a rectangular pile of rubble, and the aim of the excavation is to identify and record any standing remains within the rubble.

Cost: £110/week, covering accomodation at Nenthead Mines Heritage Centre bunkhouse and training only.

Dates:  May – October 2008


For more archaeological digging opportunities go to:

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