A to Z: a preponderance of Ps

P

PAWS

Where woodland has existed for at least the last 400 years (c. 1600 AD) it provides an ‘ancient semi-natural woodland’ habitat. Around 4% of the North York Moors National Park is classed as ‘Ancient Woodland’ according to Natural England’s Ancient Woodland Inventory. In some places woodland will have existed for much longer.

As well as the removal of woodland, particularly over the last century, there is another slower acting less visible threat to the continuation of ancient semi-natural woodland. This is where ancient woodlands have been planted up with trees such as conifers to create plantation forestry. These sites are still recorded on the Ancient Woodland Inventory, and categorized as ‘Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites’ (PAWS). This conversion leads to a detrimental decay of the ecological value of the woodland habitat from the shading caused by evergreen conifers, the acidic modification of soils, and potentially the management of the woodland to ensure maximum timber production. As well as the gradual decline of woodland flora, mycorrhizal fungi and native tree species; historic features within the woodland and the landscape value of the ancient woodland are also at risk.

Example of PAWS (Plantation on Ancient Woodland Sites) with bare slopes. Copyright NYMNPA.

Some habitats can be created/re-created, but when Ancient Woodland is lost it’s gone for generations. However restoration can be possible if it’s not too late. PAWS restoration i.e. management to maintain/enhance the ancient semi-natural woodland habitat elements, comes in many forms and scales from the removal of non-native invasive species like Rhododendron, to the replacement of conifers with predominantly native trees. Like most things to do with woodland, restoration takes time. Partial or limited restoration is often worthwhile, and maintaining the management and value of a woodland is often more beneficial than restoring but then abandoning it. The National Park Authority is keen to work with owners of PAWS to explore what might be done to conserve this significant element of our local natural heritage.

Small scale conifer removal and planting with native species on PAWS slopes. Copyright NYMNPA.

 Pecten Seam

The ‘Pecten Seam’ is part of the geological Cleveland Ironstone Formation made up of a number of ironstone seams formed one on top of the other during the Early Jurassic period (c. 199 to c. 175 million years ago). The ironstone seams are made up of shales and sideritic (iron carbonate)/chamosatic (silicate of iron) ironstone which settled at the bottom of the shallow sea across the area which now includes the North York Moors (see also Polyhalite below). The seam is called Pecten after the numerous animal fossils found within it from the Pecten genus (large scallops).

Large scallop shell (Genus - Pecten) from http://www.bgs.ac.uk

The Pecten Seam outcrops around Grosmont in Eskdale and is more important in local history for what it suggested rather than what it delivered. It was the identification of the ironstone in the ‘Pecten Seam’ during the construction of the Whitby and Pickering Railway in 1836 which led to the outbreak of ironstone mining during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the North York Moors and Cleveland Hills (see This Exploited Land of Iron Landscape Partnership Scheme). The Pecten Seam was the second ironstone seam down (second latest) and quickly turned out to be of a poor quality, so it was the ‘Main Seam’ on top (the latest) which was largely exploited by the local ironstone industry as it was higher up and so easier to access, it contained more ore, and it was thicker than the other seams making it more cost effective to mine.

On top of the main ironstone seams were further sedimentary layers of shale containing jet, alum, coal, and further ironstone all of which have been exploited at one time or another in the North York Moors.

This Exploited Land of Iron LPS logos

Picturesque

The word picturesque was first used in the latter half of the 18th century to describe a scene worthy of being painted. It has since come to mean traditional and maybe a bit twee, but originally it meant an image that would stir the sensibilities of every right feeling man (and woman) because of its aesthetics and sublimity. The ‘natural’ and dramatic were in fashion and to not be able to appreciate the beautiful dread inspired by a landscape or view was a poor reflection on a gentleman’s character. The North York Moors did not have the grandeur of the Lake District’s mountains or the awe of the glaciers of the Alps, but it was not without its picturesque attractions.

JMW Turner engraved Rievaulx Abbey in 1836 from sketches he made in 1812. The view contains mediaeval romantic ruins (the might of nature overwhelming the vanities of man), wild woods and Italianate steep hills, a glowering sky and rustic peasants: all highly ‘picturesque’. The ruins of Rievaulx Abbey belonged at the time to Duncombe Park, the Estate had both a ruined abbey and a ruined castle (Helmsley) with which to create its own ‘natural’ picturesque landscape for the pleasure and wonder of the Duncombe family and their friends.

Rievaulx Abbey engraved 1836 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Bequeathed by Travers Buxton 1945

Pignut (Conopodium majus)

Pignut is a member of the carrot family, along with parsnip, fennel, parsley and less ‘benign’ plants such as hemlock and giant hogweed. Like some other members of the carrot family it has an edible tuber. The small tubers have been eaten by pigs hence its most common name (another name – St Anthony’s Nut – is because St Anthony is the patron saint of many many things including swine herders), and also by people who like to forage. Obviously never ever eat anything unless you are absolutely definitely sure what it is, and don’t dig on other people’s land without their permission.

Pignut is a short plant which flowers in early summer with tiny delicate white umbels (flat topped flowers on stalks like umbrella spokes coming from a single stem) that together resemble lace. It’s a tough little thing containing both male and female parts and therefore is self-fertile relying on pollinators like hoverflies, and also moths. It is an indicator of grassland/woodland pasture and can be found on road verges and alongside hedges where fragments of old pasture and woodland survive.

Pignut - from http://www.seasonalwildflowers.com/pignut.html

 A Particular Pigsty

Usually people probably wouldn’t want to go on holiday to a pigsty, however there is a particular listed building in the North York Moors that isn’t many peoples’ idea of a home for pigs. Described in the listing description as “a large dwelling for pigs” this pigsty was built in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century by John Warren Barry – a Whitby shipbuilder and ship owner who was the owner of Fyling Hall near Robin Hood’s Bay. He seems to have been inspired by the classical architecture he came across on his travels around the Mediterranean as the pigsty is built in the style of a Greek temple with timber pediments at both ends and a portico of six timber columns with Ionic capitals in its south side. It contained two small sties, and was intended to provide accommodation for two pigs, whose attendants were to be housed in a pair of neighbouring cottages. The pigs were apparently unimpressed and unappreciative of their sumptuous quarters.

In time, lacking any obvious practical use, the Pigsty fell into a poor state of repair. Luckily it was purchased by The Landmark Trust in the 1980s. The Landmark Trust aims to preserve remarkable buildings by providing them with new purpose. The pigsty has been restored, converted and extended for use as a holiday cottage. The extension is minimal which enables the principal building to remain the main focus and the conversion works have managed to maintain the original character. The Pigsty certainly adds to the diversity of the built conservation of the North York Moors.

The Pigsty, Robin Hood's Bay. Copyright The Landmark Trust.

It was apparently Mr Barry’s intention that the pigs should enjoy unrivalled views across Robin Hood’s Bay – a privilege that holiday-makers instead are fortunate to have today!

Primitive Methodists

In a number of villages and dales in the North York Moors as well as an established Church building there will be a Methodist Chapel building (sometimes known as a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel), and in some there also is, or was, a Primitive Methodist Chapel in close proximity. In Chop Gate the Wesleyan Chapel and the Primitive Chapel stood back to back, as if choosing to ignore each other.

View of the Rosedale Abbey Primitive Methodist Chapel, in close proximity to the Church of England church and churchyard. Copyright Rosedale History Society.

Methodism had made early in-roads in the North York Moors in the 18th century where the location of the area, out on a limb, provided a home for dissenting religion. The Primitive Methodist ‘connection’ splintered off from the Methodist Church at the beginning of the 19th century when the preachers William Clowes and Hugh Bourne were dismissed from the main congregation. Primitive Methodism was so called because its converts believed it was they who were following more strictly and truly in the footsteps of original Methodism and its founder John Wesley. One particular aspect of early Primitive Methodism was the holding of open air prayer meetings encouraging evangelical conversions, as the Wesleys had done in the century before. This was at a time when the meeting of ordinary people in groups, unsanctioned by Society and Authority, were considered a danger to the status quo.

‘On Sunday, July 30th [1820], he [William Clowes, one of two founders of the Primitive Methodist connection] conducted a camp-meeting [open air meeting] upon a depressed part of a mountain called Scarth Nick [near to Osmotherley]. About two thousand persons were supposed to be present. The Word preached was attended with much Divine power; the prayers of the people were very fervent, and many sinners were deeply impressed. Four or five persons were made happy in the love of God; one of whom, a farmer, was so overjoyed that he called upon the hills and dales, and every thing that had breath, to help him to praise God. He afterwards hastened home, and told his wife and servant what the Lord had done for his soul, and they also sought and found the salvation of God….He [Clowes] had invitations to Weathercote, and to Auterly [now Orterley] in Bilsdale [these two sites are still farmsteads], at both of which he preached with great effect, and many were brought to God. Many exciting scenes were witnessed during his missionary tour in this district, and a great awakening took place among the inhabitants, which we can not particularize’.
A History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion by John Petty, 1864.

The Primitive Methodists emphasized the role of the lay congregation rather than a clerical hierarchy and this included a sense of equality that allowed for women preachers. They valued simplicity in worship and believed that their Christianity demanded political engagement in the modern world. Primitive Methodism appealed particularly to the rural poor and the industrial immigrant labourers, to whom the promise of reward in heaven might have seemed like a longed for relief.

‘Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore,
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power:
He is able,
He is willing; doubt no more’
The Primitive Methodist Hymnal, 1889

The Primitive Methodist Church in Britain reunited with the main Methodist Church in 1932.

Polyhalite

Polyhalite is a mineral lying deep (over 1,000 metres) under the North Sea and along the eastern edge of the National Park; it’s a type of Potash. It was formed over 260 million years ago as salts were deposited in a shallow sedimentary sea as it evaporated. Polyhalite specifically contains potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur; useful components in agriculture fertilizer.

Alongside the existing Cleveland Potash Mine at Boulby (ICL UK), over the next 5 years the new Woodsmith Mine (Sirius Minerals) is being constructed in the National Park to extract naturally formed polyhalite for commercial use. The new mine is expected to be operational by 2021 and whilst the development work is taking place, a whole range of compensatory and mitigation projects to enhance the natural and historic environment and to promote tourism in the wider area are being delivered. The first of these initial priority projects for this year include the upgrading of a 4km section of the Coast to Coast at Littlebeck and improvements to the Lyke Wake Walk, repairs and renovations to the Grade 1 listed Old St Stephen’s Church at Robin Hood’s Bay with The Churches Conservation Trust, and habitat restoration within Harwood Dale Forest.Old St Stephen's, Robin Hood's Bay. Copyright NYMNPA.

Previously on the North York Moors A to Z … A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O       

Last year’s top 5 posts … and what happens next with TEL

View from Sil Howe Mine - copyright NYMNPA

1. Hangover cure

The work at Sil Howe was carried out. Samples are being collected by the University of Hull in order to measure the impacts of the created reed bed on the iron sediment suspended in the water discharge from the abandoned mine. The University and the Environment Agency are planning to carry out a similar project this winter at Clitherbecks, above Danby.

Miss Bell - Keystone View Company - from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/27/world/middleeast/gertrude-bell-sought-to-stabilize-iraq-after-world-war-i.html2. Iron Lady

Ionic Temple, Duncombe Park - copyright NYMNPA

3. A Classical Restoration

In October an opening ceremony was held to mark the completion of the restoration project of the Ionic Temple at Duncombe Park (Grade 1 Registered Parks and Gardens). The National Park received a commendation from Historic England’s Angel Awards in recognition of the work that went into the fundraising and the quality of the repairs. The companion Tuscan Temple at Duncombe Park is to be restored through a Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship scheme.

2015 expedition down one of the Ryedale Windy Pits - copyright NYMNPA

4. Down below

The Ryedale Windypits (Antofts, Ashberry, Bucklands and Slip Gill) are considered to be nationally significant because of their geological interest (mass movement caves), their ecological interest (swarming sites/hibernation roosts for bats), and their archaeological interest (Bronze Age/Iron Age remains) – The Ryedale Windypits Conservation Statement and Management Plan 2006.

LiDAR - Beck Hole Ironworks - a number of industrial structures are served by sidings from the railway line. Bluesky/NYMNPA.5. Falling leaves divulge our industrial past

Top Posts 1, 2 and 5 are all related to the This Exploited Land (TEL) Landscape Partnership application. The development stage was completed at the end of October.

logo

HLFNL_2747

NYMNP-logo_92-pixel c

 

What we did in the TEL development stage

Landscape Conservation Action Plan

All Landscape Partnership Schemes need an Action Plan – this details the scheme, its significance (Part 1) and the 52 prioritised projects (Parts 2 & 3) that will be made possible by HLF funding.

Cultural Heritage

We carried out archaeological and engineering surveys of the key heritage sites within the TEL scheme area. We needed to know what was there, what condition it was in and how soon it was going to fall down, and what we could do to conserve the structures in their current condition. When this was completed we prioritised what was ‘essential’, and then talked to landowners, Historic England and Natural England in order to secure permissions to carry out the works should funding be achieved.

Warren Moor Ironstone Mine Chimney, Kildale - copyright NYMNPA

Heritage at risk - Rosedale - copyright NYMNPARosedale East Mines and Railway Trackbed - copyright Paddy ChambersWe also commissioned a LiDAR survey to better understand the landscape character and industrial archaeology along the Murk Esk Valley from Goathland to Grosmont (see Top Post 5).

Natural Heritage

We carried out surveys across the TEL area to identify the most important natural environment issues and the most critical sites – the living, breathing, growing aspects of the landscape e.g. woodlands, watercourses (see Top Post 1), hay meadows, water voles, ring ouzels, wild daffodils, that are ‘at risk’ and need a helping hand to survive and flourish.

Farmland in the TEL area - copyright NYMNPA

Natural heritage at risk - Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site - copyright NYMNPA

Natural heritage at risk - Ring Ouzel - copyright John KnightWe worked with a range of landowners and others to develop initial plans that will start to deliver those helping hands, to conserve and create bigger, better and more connected sites across the TEL landscape which will benefit the wildlife species.

Access, Interpretation and Engagement

We carried out surveys of current visitors and non-visitors to the TEL area to identify why people visit, why they don’t, and to find out about the interest in industrial heritage and its landscape legacy.

Ingleby Incline Volunteer Survey 2015 - copyright NYMNPA

We used these surveys to develop an interpretation strategy which encompasses a range of different audiences and we plan to tell the story of This Exploited Land in lots of different ways. The strategy includes the creation of interpretation hubs, the setting up of a community grants scheme, the establishment of an ambitious volunteer programme and the roll out of an education programme. We hope this will ensure positive outcomes and opportunities for people to engage with their landscape and its heritage.

Revising the boundary

The scheme area has to reflect a landscape that tells the story of ‘before’, ‘during’ and ‘after’ industry and the ways in which humans have intervened and changed the landscape through time. The rationale of the TEL area is the ‘story-telling’ role of the landscape (from east to west) – the story of early railway and ironstone exploitation that emerged in the key century of industry on the North York Moors c. 1830s-1920s.

We reviewed the boundary in the development stage and made some amendments to reflect the underlying geology and the existing Landscape Character better.

Finalised TEL area outlined in red - copyright NYMNPA

The TEL landscape sits within the North York Moors and shares many of its special qualities including “great diversity of landscapes” and “sudden contrasts associated with this”. For example – upland and valley, nature and industry. The TEL landscape presents a distinct identity based upon the sense of discovery that these now apparently ‘natural’ places were sites of extraordinary industrial expansion, and just as rapid industrial retraction. The ‘feeling’ of remoteness and quietness experienced now on the moorland is confronted by the knowledge that a working railway ran high across Farndale and Baysdale Moors connecting beyond the Cleveland Hills to County Durham, and that the moorland edges of Rosedale reverberated with the sounds of iron production.

Ingleby Incline and views towards Teeesside - copyright NYMNPA

Ghosts in the landscape: Ingleby Incline - copyright John Davies (Kirby, Great Broughton & Ingleby Greenhow Local History Group)

Geoff Taylor from the Kirby, Great Broughton & Ingleby Greenhow Local History Group and member of the TEL Executive Group sums up the TEL area as “connected by history, separated by geography”. This has become one of the mantras during the project development. The connections between Rosedale, Grosmont, and Kildale are not always obvious given the complex topography and modern transport networks, but these communities are connected by their shared history of iron exploration and railways. There are also important connections from the TEL area out to Teesside, Middlesbrough and Redcar, which became the focus for the iron industries of the North-East (see Top Post 2), and beyond across the world.

What now…

We are now waiting on a funding decision from the Heritage Lottery Fund and hope (IF all goes to plan) we will be able to start on delivering the exciting projects that make up the 5 year programme in late spring 2016.

Grosmont - copyright Chris Ceaser

Favourite restorations and reinstatements

We like Top 10 lists on this Blog – here’s a Top 5 instead. Our Building Conservation team pick their Top 5 projects from the last financial year.

Clair Shields – Planning Policy Officer/Building Conservation Officer

These Top 5 building conservation projects are some of our favourites and have been selected to give a snap-shot of some the work the National Park Authority has been involved in. Not all these projects involved direct grant funding but they all included our input in one way or another. The projects aren’t in any particular order and are featured for a variety of reasons such as size and scale, uniqueness, quirkiness, or because the works have been a labour of love carried out by the owner!

 Robin Hood’s Bay Window

Robiin Hood's Bay window BEFORE - copyright NYMNPAThe replacement of modern unsympathetic windows and reinstatement of old style vastly improves the appearance of a property. This can be a simple task to undertake when there are old photographs for reference, or the size and shape of the opening clearly indicates its former style. However in this case, it is obvious that the existing downstairs window was a relatively modern intervention and therefore in order to find a suitable style and arrangement to compliment rather than detract from the host property lots of sketches were drawn up to compare and consider. This resulting unequal sash adds to the diversity of the area’s architectural features.

Robiin Hood's Bay window AFTER - copyright NYMNPARobiin Hood's Bay window AFTER - copyright NYMNPA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staithes (1)

Last year there were several projects in Staithes which saw the reinstatement of more traditional style windows to properties located in the heart of this important Conservation Area.

This is Chapel Cottage – where modern windows were replaced with traditional vertical sliding sash windows and Yorkshire sliding sashes to the dormer.

Chapel Cottage BEFORE - copyright NYMNPAChapel Cottage AFTER - copyright NYMNPA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staithes (2)Staithes - historical reference material

Here, old photographs were used to evidence an older style of window. Consideration was given to the possibility of removing the render to the front, however the old photos shows that this was a former shop and therefore the stonework underneath was unlikely to be of good enough quality to expose. The two tone paint colour, (a typical feature of coastal villages) enhances the local distinctiveness.

 

Staithes building BEFORE - copyright NYMNPAStaithes building BEFORE - copyright NYMNPA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staithes building AFTER - copyright NYMNPA

Staithes building AFTER - copyright NYMNPA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staithes - historical reference material - 1960s photo

Goathland Waymarker Stones

Waymarker stones may seem relatively insignificant as listed structures compared with castles and cathedrals, but they were culturally important. Historically they were guide features for people traversing the moorland, defining the route to follow in a landscape which has very few points of reference. For this reason, waymarkers are still found across the moors. However where modern roads follow the same historic routes often waymarkers have been lost through damage or theft, which was the case along the Pickering to Goathland road. Of the seven recorded listed waymarkers, only one was still in place.

In order to maintain the evidence of this historic route, we worked with the Estate to reinstate six of the lost waymarkers. A local farmer was particularly keen to see them reinstated as in winter when the snow covers the moors they still define the line of the road which is as useful now as it was in the past.

New waymarker - copyright NYMNPA

Ionic Temple at Duncombe Park

In contrast to waymarkers and windows, due to the sheer scale of the work involved the Ionic Temple project was a milestone for the National Park Authority. The Temple had been on English Heritage’s ‘At Risk’ register since its inception in 1985. The repair of the Temple was a big project to be involved in, alongside many other funding bodies. See our previous blog post for more details.

Close up - repairs to Ionic Temple - copyright NYMNPAClose up - repairs to Ionic Temple - copyright NYMNPAClose up - Duncombe Park Ionic Temple - copyright NYMNPA

 

 

 

 

The companion Tuscan Temple, at the other end of the Rievaulx Terrace, is due to be repaired through Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship Scheme.

 

A Classical Restoration

Clair Shields – Planning Policy Officer/Building Conservation Officer

Ionice Temple, Duncomber Park - NYMNPA

Architectural drawings - Ionic Temple - Peter Gaze Pace ArchitectThe Ionic Temple at Duncombe Park is a Grade I Listed Building in a Grade I Registered Park and Garden. Dating from the early 1720s it is attributed to Sir John Vanbrugh – the celebrated and multi-talented English architect, best known for designing the neighbouring Castle Howard and also Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

The temple is classical in its construction – perfectly geometrically proportioned and ornately sculptured. It is named after the Ionic order – one of the three orders of classical architecture, the other two being the Doric and Corinthian. The term Ionic refers to the capitals on the tops of the columns, with their distinctive ram’s horn motif. Architectural drawings - Ionic Temple - Peter Gaze Pace ArchitectThis style of architecture was developed first by the Greeks, then imitated by the Romans, and then reimagined through neoclassicism in 18th century Europe and wherever else the European “Enlightenment” spread.

Constructed of sandstone, the temple forms an open rotunda with ashlar masonry under a leaded, domed roof; a stepped podium with nine ionic columns supports a plain architrave and frieze with a dentilled cornice.

Ionic Temple - close up on erosoin - NYMNPA

The Ionic Temple has been included in English Heritage’s Buildings at Risk Register since the Register’s inception back in 1985.

Significant deterioration of the temple’s stonework has been evident for many years and particles of stone regularly fall from the columns. There have been signs of structural movement causing stresses in the columns, exacerbated by the weathering of the column shafts. The capitals have been deteriorating and a number of volutes were missing.

Ionic Temple - close up on erosoin - NYMNPAThe causes of this erosion are thought to be three-fold:

The local sandstone used in this temple, and the nearby Tuscan Temple and Nelson Gates on the same estate, forms a hard crust which breaks away leaving particularly soft and friable stone below.

In order to achieve substantial pieces of masonry with which to build upon, masonry was laid with the beds running vertically Ionic Temple - close up on erosoin - NYMNPAinstead of horizontally. As such, the layers of soft sandstone are especially vulnerable to water ingress and are gradually de-laminating like layers of shale.

The location of the temple at the exposed northern end of the Terrace has exacerbated the rate of erosion with the temple particularly exposed to wind and rain over the years.

 

To address the deterioration before it becomes too late – the National Park Authority has assisted the Duncombe Park Estate to secure a funding package for the necessary repairs which will cost approximately £200,000. Donations have been forthcoming from English Heritage (£120,650), the Country Houses Foundation (£50,000), the CLEARY Fund (£3,000) and the Yorkshire Gardens Trust (£1,000). We’ve donated £10,000 from our Historic Buildings Grant pot.

EH logoCountry Houses Foundation logoThe Georgian Group (CLEARY FUND) logoYorkshire Gardens Trust logoNYMNPA logo

 

The repairs will involve stone repair as well as stone replacement and the replicating of the intricate carvings. Ebor Stone of York have been appointed as contractors and work is expected to be completed in spring.

Ionic Temple - repair work 2014/15 - NYMNPA

 

Ionic Temples - replacement stone carved features Ionic Temples - replacement stone carved features Ionic Temples - replacement stone carved features

This remedial work should help secure a longer term future for this small national ornament set in the North York Moors.

Understanding the past in the present

Graham Lee – Senior Archaeological Conservation Officer

Working in archaeology probably consists of a lot more desk work than most people imagine. There are site visits which are necessary from time to time in order to gain specific or detailed knowledge about a site – required for the provision of information or advice. Excavations are actually quite rare and generally undertaken by outside contractors since they are immensely time-consuming both in terms of the time on-site but more so in writing up the final report. Excavation also tends to destroy the features that are being investigated – so it tends to be an option of last resort.

So in terms of desk work one of the most important activities that we carry out is the maintenance and development of the archaeological index for the National Park area, on which we base most of our decisions and which we use to provide information and advice. Known as the Historic Environment Record (HER), this database contains summary information on all the archaeological knowledge that we hold. Presented graphically against a digital Ordnance Survey map background, this allows a very rapid assessment of the archaeological resource or potential of an area. Coupled with historic mapping and modern aerial photography, we have a very powerful tool to help us to understand the development and uses to which the North York Moors landscape has been put.

Below are a few examples to help demonstrate the range of information that exists within our HER.

Levisham Estate - boundary dyke

The first map (below) shows part of the Levisham Estate, which is owned and managed by the National Park Authority. The pink outline defines the area of the Scheduled Monument, the largest within the National Park, which has been designated (a process which confers legal protection) due to the archaeological importance of the range and survival of the archaeological sites it contains.

The National Park contains many moorland areas which have not been disturbed by recent agricultural activity and are consequently rich in prehistoric, and later, remains. The surviving sites on Levisham Moor illustrate the range of uses the land has been put to over thousands of years.

Areas on the map outlined in red or marked with the crossed-hammers icons represent records within the HER. Features plotted in black, with the exception of the mapped field boundaries, are earthworks recorded by the National Mapping Programme (NMP), undertaken for sections of the National Park area by Archaeological Research Services Ltd in partnership with English Heritage. The NMP pulls together existing aerial data and through analysis identifies features of interest. Activity over thousands of years is often clearer when viewed from the air rather than on the ground. On Levisham Moor particular attention has been drawn to the Bercary earthworks, a monastic sheep-farm dating from the 13th century, and the remains of a field system to their north-north-east which may be related. Away to the east of the central track there are a further series of enclosures and field systems – the enclosures which have been dated belong to the Romano-British period.

Levisham HER Blog

By adding our 2009 Geoperspectives aerial photographs as a backdrop (the most up to date aerial photos we currently have for the National Park), the way the archaeology fits within the landscape becomes much clearer.

Levisham HER Blog2

The third map (below) shows Rievaulx village and Abbey. As well as showing the data types mentioned above the map also includes designated Listed Buildings and designated Registered Parks and Gardens in blue, which indicate part of Rievaulx Terrace. The latter was laid out in c.1758 for Thomas Duncombe and linked to Duncombe Park by a picturesque carriage drive. The NMP plotted earthworks reveal evidence of the water management system around the mediaeval Abbey, as well as agricultural terraces, quarrying and even the faint outline of the monastery garden at the bottom centre of the image, just to the west of the pond.

Rievaulx HER Blog

Like I said, in the discipline of archaeology there is a lot of desk work to be done. The results – a better understanding of the impacts that people have left on the landscape over millennia and therefore a better understanding of the people themselves – are always going to be worthwhile.

Rievaulx Abbey by Jen Smith (NYMNPA)

The North York Moors HER is available to be viewed – but at the moment to see everything together, you’ll need to make an appointment and come along in person to the National Park Office because it’s not all accessible on-line. The information can also be supplied for an area on request, for a charge. However the national designations – Scheduled Monuments, Listed Buildings, Register of Parks and Gardens – are available to download from English Heritage.

Peculiarity of Character: part 2

 Clair Shields – Planning Officer (Building Conservation)

Following on from our previous post – here are few more of the sometimes weird and always wonderful listed ‘buildings’ found in the North York Moors.

Telephone Kiosks

untitledWhilst the traditional red telephone box is an iconic English feature a green one is even more unusual. This telephone box at Fangdale Beck is a classic K6 type, designed in 1935 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and made by Macfarlane of Glasgow. We think its green colour was the result of a competition for local school children who were given the opportunity to choose its colour.

There are also several listed red K6s in the North York Moors. Many K6 telephone boxes have been recently decommissioned and as a result some have been destroyed. In other areas local communities have adopted them turning them into village information points or lending libraries. A good example is at Oswaldkirk which has been restored to a high standard by local volunteers.

Collecting Box, Robin Hood’s BayDSCF0442

Standing in front of the Old Coastguard Station at the top of the slipway which was formerly used by the village’s lifeboat and fishing fleet, this curious cod structure is in fact an Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) collecting box. It was donated by the family of a local ship owner, Isaac Mills, in 1886. The cod was ‘fish-napped’ by local pranksters in 2006 and its brief absence galvanised local feeling towards the fishy curio. On its return the Parish Council successfully applied to English Heritage to have the structure listed. It is thought to be one of the DSCF0443oldest collecting boxes still in service for the RNLI.

A partnership scheme funded by the North York Moors National Park and English Heritage paid for the collecting box to be restored and the sign above it, which was missing, to be re-made based on historic photos of the feature.

Capture1

Ice Houses

Ice Houses are generally an 18th and 19th century feature and as their name suggests, they were purpose-made buildings used to store ice. They were therefore a feature which only the landed gentry would want or afford – the examples shown here are at Hackness Hall and Duncombe Park. Their main purpose was to store perishable foods and was a ‘must have’ feature when ice-creams and sorbets became fashionable in the 18th century. Ice Houses were used up until domestic refrigerators became available in the early 20th century.

Usually located close to lakes and fish ponds, the ice and snow which formed over winter would be collected and stored in the ice house, often insulated with straw or sawdust, where it would remain frozen during the summer months. In some cases ice was delivered from further afield and even imported from Scandinavia. Various types and designs of ice houses exist but they were commonly brick lined domed structures; some more elaborate than others.

Similarly there were also more mundane sounding Root Houses, built to provide dark spaces for the storage of root vegetables.

5 August 2009 073Ice%20House%20ceiling[1] 4335794[1]

 

 

 

 

 

Teaching Trees

Clair Shields – Small Scale Enhancements Scheme Co-ordinator

One of the final projects supported by the LEADER funded Small Scale Enhancements Scheme in the North York Moors has been the Teaching Trees project, run by the Royal Forestry Society. The project encourages teachers to bring children of all ages into managed woodlands, and where possible introduces schools into the woodlands in their own vicinity helping to broaden and consolidate regular classroom work by using woods as outdoor classrooms.  The first session was run at Duncombe Park near Helmsley, where younger children foraged for leaves and seeds, hunted for minibeasts and built bug huts while the older children looked into the management of the woodland and helped to decide which trees should be thinned in a particular part of the wood. As a National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Duncombe Park contains some of the best veteran and ancient trees in the National Park. Outside the formal parkland the woodlands are managed for a variety of benefits including timber, sport and landscape, as they have for hundreds of years, and therefore the site offered a great variety of interest for the Teaching Trees Project.

While the majority of the schools involved lie within the North York Moors National Park, an important element of the project was about bringing children from a more urban environment into their National Park to experience the special qualities the Park has to offer including some massive trees.

This is what Teaching Trees education officer Julia Cheetham said about it: “I have been working with a group of eleven and twelve year olds who live on a council estate and very rarely if ever visit a wood. Watching these children experience the different sounds and sights of a wood for the first time was truly magical. They couldn’t get over the true size of a tree and were amazed to find out how old they were.  I think the children taking part in this project are gaining a greater understanding of woodlands, how they are managed and, above all, why we need to look after them.”

Pam Sellar, a teacher at Egton Church of England Primary School in the National Park agreed: “Teaching Trees has had a much bigger impact on the children than I could ever have envisaged. It has made them think very carefully about trees and the impact on their lives. Every morning we have had to spend the first part of the day looking at samples of trees, leaves, fruits and seeds they have collected on their way to school.”

For more info on the Yorkshire based Teaching Trees project – click here.

Tackling invasives

Bill Shaw – Ecology and Conservation Land Management Adviser

In Britain, Himalayan balsam is a non-native invasive plant species. It is pretty and pink when it flowers, but it is a domineering plant that crowds out smaller native plants, and 1when it dies back in the winter it leaves sites with bare ground and no stabilising vegetation. This unstable bare ground along river banks where Himalayan balsam likes to grow is a particular problem because it leads to increased sedimentation in a river which detrimentally affects the river habitat.

Fortunately unlike other invasive plant species, Himalayan balsam is not too difficult to tackle and hopefully eradicate before it swamps a site. It can be pulled up in June/July, before it flowers and seeds. However it may take a few years of repeat pulling to actually get rid of the plant at a particular location.

For the sixth year in the row we’re tackling Himalayan balsam along the banks of the River Seph in the west of the National Park. We started at the top of the river catchment gradually edging down as well as going back up stream to repeat the control each year where necessary. The plan  is that we eventually eradicate the plant on this river.

It’s proving to be a resilient adversary but the amount of balsam now left on the Seph has been reduced enough for us to also move down onto the River Rye (which the Seph runs into). This season we’re commissioning control work, over a twelve week period, for a stretch of about five kilometres.

The vast majority of the control work will again be done by our three local contractors, who use a combination of strimming and hand pulling to remove this annual plant. Willing bands of National Park Volunteers will also tackle patches including in Duncombe Park National Nature Reserve. A survey conducted by our Volunteers in 2011 along the River Rye from the Seph confluence down to Helmsley has highlighted new areas where balsam is occurring so we know what we’re up against in our new drive against the plant.