YAC-king opportunities

David Mennear – Land of Iron Administration Assistant

Volunteers Wanted: Join Moors & Valleys YAC Today!

The Moors & Valleys Young Archaeologists’ Club (YAC) needs people to help deliver a range of exciting and informative archaeology-themed sessions to children across the North York Moors National Park and Teesside. The YAC is a national network of clubs across the UK ran by dedicated volunteers. The Moors & Valleys Club is of the most recent to join the network. Since February 2018, the Moors & Valleys YAC have been delivering monthly sessions at venues throughout the region aimed at entertaining and educating 8-16 year olds.

Moors & Valleys YAC logo


Originally set up as a part of the Land of Iron HLF Landscape Partnership Scheme, the Moors & Valleys YAC is currently based at The Moors National Park Centre in Danby – the group welcomes children to join from all across Teesside, Cleveland and North Yorkshire.

Tell me more about the Moors & Valleys sessions…

Children who have joined the Moors and Valleys YAC group have taken part in a variety of craft and educational activities, from visits to archaeological digs and museums to handling artefacts and hearing informative talks. We have even looked at animal and (plastic) human skeletons and learnt about how bones survive in the archaeological record! The session themes change each month and we want to focus on both local history and also topics from different time periods and from all around the world.

Moors & Valleys YAC visiting the Land of Iron Combs Wood excavation. Copyright NYMNPA.

In May we visited St. Peter’s church and graveyard in Brotton to investigate Victorian gravestones. We learnt about the occupations of past individuals, including miners and sailors, and learnt about the types of symbols used on gravestones and what they represented. In July we held an extra session to visit the archaeological excavation at Skelton, as part of an HLF project entitled Skelton Townscape Heritage project run by Tees Archaeology and local volunteers. The excavation was investigating the evidence for, and use of, medieval long-houses close to the site of the castle. We had a great time and learnt a lot about archaeology and its methods in the field.

So, what is the Moors & Valleys YAC looking for…

The sessions are run on the first Saturday of the month, from 11 am – 2 pm, in a number of different locations. So far we have held sessions in Danby, Middlesbrough, Skelton and Stockton on Tees. If this sounds like an interesting and invigorating way to spend one Saturday a month, read on.

We are looking for Leaders and Volunteers to join Moors and Valleys YAC in delivering entertaining and educating sessions. Leaders will take an active part in developing and delivering the session topics, helping to provide a hand with other YAC members. Volunteers will help by attending the sessions, and delivering support for the children in understanding the sessions by providing prompts and discussion points.

Moors & Valleys YAC - Teesside human skeleton session. Copyright NYMNPA.

We are also looking for a part-time Volunteer Administrator who would be able to assist in the office-based activities necessary for the Moors & Valleys YAC. The role will help provide new YAC members with the appropriate membership forms, update members on upcoming sessions, and help relay information between YAC Volunteers and Leaders. Ideally you will be interested in archaeology and history, with a keen interest in making heritage available and accessible for all.

Here at the North York Moors National Park we help provide the base of support for our YAC Volunteers. All YAC Volunteers are registered through the National Park’s volunteer system and we can offer travel expenses as appropriate.

Next step is to get in touch

To apply for the above volunteer positions, or to find out more information about the roles available, please have a look here or email volunteers@northyorkmoors.org.uk. Prior to taking up a role there will be an informal chat to outline and discuss the activities. Please note that a DBS check is required for all the roles above. The North York Moors National Park Authority can help with the application for this and its attendant costs.

At the start of life

Simon Hirst – River Esk Project Officer

Salmon in the Classroom May 2015 - NYMNPAAn important part of our work on the River Esk is engaging with local people who are vital in helping to secure a sustainable future for the salmon and trout, and the freshwater pearl mussel population who live in the river. For the past 7 years we’ve been rolling out the Salmon in the Classroom initiative to a different village school each year in the Esk Catchment. This year it’s been the turn of Goathland Primary School.

We supplied the hatchery tank and the Atlantic Salmon eggs in Salmon in the Classroom May 2015 - NYMNPAMarch and the children have been raising the fish since then through the initial stage of their life cycle (from egg to fry). At the same time Heather and trainee teachers Megan and Francesca from our Education Team have been telling the children the story of the creatures who live together in the river including the illusive pearl mussels whose larvae rely on the fish as hosts, and illustrating the value of the children’s local river environment. The children have had the rare chance to see the start of life for the fish in front of their eyes, and in return have produced inspired artwork.

Salmon in the Classroom May 2015 - NYMNPAA couple of weeks ago the children released the young fish – around 70 of them – into the Murk Esk at Beck Hole. The released fish will remain in the river for around two years – growing and developing until they are big enough to migrate out to sea. Then hopefully they’ll return to the Esk river network in about three years’ time to spawn and produce young of their own.




The fry waiting to be released - Salmon in the Classroom May 2015 - NYMNPAAs mentioned previously, the River Esk is the only river in Yorkshire with a freshwater pearl mussel population but numbers are in drastic decline. With the help of landowners and in partnership with the Yorkshire Esk Rivers Trust (YERT), we’re carrying out restoration work along the river to improve the river habitat for the benefit of the mussels and other river species. Pollution and sediment build up, decline in fish populations and habitat degradation are all recognised reasons for the decline. An improved habitat would allow the re-introduction of juvenile pearl mussels currently being raised through the captive breeding programme at the Freshwater Biological Association facility in Windermere, in order to boost the ageing population hanging on in the Esk.

Looking forward

Geoff Taylor – Kirby, Great Broughton & Ingleby Greenhow Local History Group; and member of the This Exploited Land Executive Group

“As a volunteer supporter of the This Exploited Land (TEL) project from its early days there are some really positive potentials for our Partnership to build on. Whilst the public often view the North York Moors as a fairly static and unchanging landscape our role is to interpret and preserve some of the features which made it an area of rapid and dynamic progress during a period when Britain led the world in the making of iron and steel.

It took some courage to seize upon industrial archaeology as the basis for a Heritage Lottery Fund bid but our success at first try has given us great heart and our two person team of Stephen Croft and Louise Cooke have already generated great progress toward the stage 2 submission of our proposals by late 2015; the interval is as frustrating as it is necessary!

Looking across Rosedale

The ‘Rosedale railway’ line is walked by thousands each year as part of the ‘Coast to Coast’ walk. A brief diversion toward the Incline above Ingleby Greenhow or onto the giant flat contour loop in the direction of the Rosedale mines throws a whole new insight into the landscape and its past; the stone kilns must have appeared in thousands of photographs as a feature or stunning backdrop and yet the inevitable process of erosion and decay will take them and the story they represent from future generations unless we act to conserve these and similar features as we intend to do through TEL.

Rosedale East Kilns

Just as important is the task of reconnecting some of our local communities with their past; each of the stations on the Esk Valley line has its own story to tell and the challenge for us is to encourage and support the local population to research and share that story whilst it is still accessible. We hope to deliver heritage trails for each of our communities which once created can only serve to provide pride and a real sense of relevance and purpose from a different period of time.

Grosmont - junction of Esk Valley Line and NYM Railway

So much of Teesside and the North East of England’s heritage is based upon production – solid and tangible items like girders, ships, bridges and bolts – much of that has gone and we owe it to the people whose families played their part in that story and who still live in the area to preserve at least some elements for the generations yet to come. As part of the process we have the opportunity also to add significantly to the National Park’s current offering in terms of biodiversity – for industrial/post-industrial Teesside the North York Moors is still a green lung, a place to step back from the pressure of 21st century Britain.

Rosedale Bank Top KilnsFor young people, if TEL can achieve its aims some of our ‘pearls’ can become open air classrooms where the relatively straightforward technology of mining and engineering from that period can be displayed in ways which can be readily understood and these first principles once digested can lead children on to move to more complex and challenging processes.

The passage of the steam trains to and from the mines across the high moorland landscape must have been incredibly dramatic in the 19th century, the track bed was unfenced so that it must have been possible to stand within a few feet of one of these awesome transports throughout the year. We hope to recreate a little of that drama using virtual reality as part of our project so that anyone equipped with an Internet link can witness for themselves this aspect of our truly remarkable story.

Warren Moor Mine site

My own local history group based in Broughton, Kirby and Ingleby Greenhow linked up in partnership with the Rosedale History Society back in 2009 to support the work of Malcolm Bisby who had studied the Rosedale railway in great detail and to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its inception. That work proved to be one of the building blocks for the TEL project and we continue to strongly back the excellent National Park staff TEL Executive Group Meeetingwho will see the project through to completion. As our bid gathers substance and the detailed costings for conservation and interpretation come to hand we shall be able to publicise more of how the task is to tackled but we know we want to deliver to our visitors a really rich experience and with the team we have I am confident we can.”



Cataloguing the countryside

Alex Cripps – Conservation Graduate Trainee

Having worked at the North York Moors National Park Authority for just over a year now P{hotoI’ve been lucky enough to get the opportunity to develop a variety of new skills. During my second year I’m really keen to increase my botanical skills and so I recently attended a Phase 1 Habitat Survey course at Plas Tan y Bwlch – the Snowdonia National Park’s Study Centre in North Wales. The course was led by Hilary Wallace, an expert in botanical surveys.

A Phase 1 Habitat Survey is a widely recognised survey type used to classify and map habitats over large areas of countryside, relatively easily and quickly. It’s a useful way to conceive a habitat inventory of an area.

The Phase 1 mapping technique has been used across the UK since the 1980s. Using a standardised method means that results are consistent and comparable across the country. The technique involves a trained surveyor mapping habitat according to vegetation onto an Ordnance Survey map at a scale of 1:10,000. Around 90 specified habitat types are used to classify all terrestrial and intertidal habitats, and each habitat type has its own specific colour and alphanumeric reference code. Interesting points of detail can also be added as target notes, for instance drawing attention to rare species found.

Grasses, sedges and rushes are key species to help classify particular habitat types, although they are sometimes not the easiest to identify! Having familiarised ourselves with some specimens in the classroom, we improved our id skills in the field by following through vegetation keys. Identifying these species allowed us to determine what habitats we were looking at – was it an acidic or neutral grassland? semi-improved or improved*? and what were the dominant species?

Out in the field we used the short alphanumeric reference codes on our maps, but back in the classroom we added the colour system, making it easy to see the distribution and extent of the different habitat types we had just mapped.

A Phase 1 Habitat Survey is designed to be a rapid survey covering between 1 to 6.5km per day. We were somewhat behind this initially, as it took us a whole day to map one farm holding. But with rain for most of the day and many different habitat types to learn, not to mention trying to identify a blade of grass through a hand lens in the wind and rain, I think we did quite well!

Pase 1

We have a Phase 1 Survey from the late 1980s which covers the whole of the North York Moors National Park (143,600 hectares). The maps were coloured by hand and the effort that went into it must have been huge. It is unlikely to be redone any time soon. So instead it is updated on a piecemeal basis.

Phase 1 maps are extremely useful for identifying areas of conservation importance, areas that may benefit from more detailed surveys and areas where to focus conservation work. I am currently working on our Habitat Connectivity programme which involves assessing priority areas to create better and bigger areas of good habitat and connecting these together to help wildlife move freely through the landscape. Our Phase 1 map provides the initial overview of habitats and an indication of where to concentrate my efforts, which I can then follow up on the ground.

All in all it was a fantastic course with a great mix of classroom based work and site visits to enjoy the beautiful Welsh countryside…even though it turned out to be a wee bit damp, but that’s what makes the countryside the way it is!

*improved in this context means land which has been heavily altered by grazing, drainage and/or the addition of fertilizer, herbicides, manure etc. and so only limited diversity remains.

129 Projects in 129 Pictures

Clair Shields – Planning Officer (Building Conservation) and Monument Management Scheme Volunteer Coordinator – previously LEADER Small Scale Enhancements Co-ordinator

Using LEADER money, the North York Moors Small Scale Enhancements Scheme (January 2010 – December 2013) was a relatively small funding stream to help communities carry out enhancement work and conserve assests in their local village and parish. Projects had to fit with one or more of these three LEADER themes:

  • Conservation & Heritage
  • Village Renewal & Development
  • Access to Basic Services

The concept behind the Small Scale Enhancements (SSE) Scheme was that all projects should be generated by the local community, because local people are best placed to determine what’s of value in their area. The National Park Authority bankrolled the projects until the money could be claimed back from the LEADER fund which meant that local communities didn’t have to miss out if they couldn’t find their own temporary funding.

A few key facts

  • 129 projects supported over 4 years
  • 74% of projects fell within the cultural heritage theme
  • 14% of projects fell within the village enhancement theme
  • 12% of projects fell within the access to basic services theme
  • £323,586 of funding provided to 90 communities
  • Additional £30,000 of funding generated through match funding
  • Average cost per project amounted to £2,734

Below are 129 (very small) pictures – each one illustrating one of the 129 small scale projects. Hopefully the pictures give you some impression of the array of enhancements realised through the North York Moors SSE.

HB900 and Vicar's Walk, Hutton Buscel - celebrating 900 years of the Church + tree work 'Heather Hopper' for Esk Moors Active - provision of lift on community bus Lastingham Village Railings - renewal of traditional stone posts and timber railings


Lythe Village Hall - outdoor seating equipment Wass Environment Day - weekend public event celebrating the local environment Old St Stephen's Chuch, Fylingdales - noticeboards, pamphlets, posts and website




Shandy Hall Gate, Coxwold - reinstatement of gates and rebuilding of drystone wall Egton Mortuary Chapel - provision of information board Gillamoor Village Enhancements - restoration of traditional name signs + tablet at Surprise View




Hartoft Horse Trough - repair of double horse troughs 'A Sign in the Right Direction' Project - refurbishment of 8 traditional highways signs Drovers' Road Play - creation of play based on local heritage




Thornton le Dale Village Projects - notice board, directional signs and restoration of stocks. Alms Houses photo by Peter Smith. Heritage Cycle Routes - creation of cycle route linking heritage and local villages in the south of the North York Moors Kilburn Village Institute - upgrading heating system. Photo © Gordon Hatto.




Coxwold Village Enhancements Art for Sustainability - art classes around sense of place Chop Yat Iron Forge Festival, Chop Gate - traditional events and demonstrations




Fylingthorpe Methodist Chapel - setting up luncheon club for elderly residents Ravenscar Barrows - geophysical survey of ancient barrow site Sinnington Local History Group - I.T. equipment for village archive




Fylingdales Local History Group's 'Archive Open Door Project' - archiving historical documents Rosedale History Society - display equipment
Rosedale Railway 150 - website and leaflet to celebrate 150 anniversary



Farndale Band Room - provision of new doors Lastingham War Memorial - restoration Old Byland Church - restoration of drystone walls and mediaeval tiles




Lealholm Church Pews - seat cushions Roxby Old Manor Site - consolidation of ruins Aislaby Name Signs - provision of traditional looking signage




Rosedale and Thorgill Name Plates - provision of traditional looking signage Abbeyfield Esk Moor, Castleton - projector and sound equipment for facilities for the elderly Ampleforth Water Pump - repair of street water pump





Appleton le Moors Church Displays - permanent display in Church Beggars Bridge, Glaisdale - interpretation panel Castleton Play Area - new access gate




Chop Gate History Project - celebrating the last 60 years of Bilsdale Commondale Village Hall - new boundary fencing and disabled access Goathland Village Improvements - restoration of heritage signage and old stone trough




Ha Ha Bridge, Thornton le Dale - restoration of listed bridge Hackness Pinfold - restoration Hackness, Suffield, Broxa Name Signs - traditional looking name signs




Hinderwell Cemetery - restoration of iron railings Hutton Buscel Gate Piers - restoration of listed pillars and reinstatement of gates Hutton le Hole War Memorial - renovation





Hutton le Hole Wildflower Area - creation of wild flower meadow behind Church Ingleby and Battersby Junction Name Signs - traditional looking new name signs Ingleby Cross and Arncliffe Name Signs - new village name signs




Jugger Howe Nature Trail - boardwalk materials for new nature trail Lastingham Beck Enhancement Lockton Village Improvements - restoration of village well and provision of tree seat




Lythe War Memorial - cleaning and re-etching NYM Honeybee Conservation Project - hives for nucleus colonies Osmotherley Pinfold - repair




Oswaldkirk Telephone Kiosk - restoration Peacock Row Cobbling, Robin Hood's Bay - pavement works Pinchinthorpe Hall - moat and garden restoration





Plum Tree House, Borrowby - restoration of historic trods River Esk Monitoring - training local anglers to monitor invertebrates Rosedale Church Conservation Area - creation of grassland conservation area in churchyard




Rosedale East Pond - restoration Seggymire Community Access - restoration of historic route along Old Monks Trod Sinnington Village Maypole - restoration of village maypole




Sneaton War Memorial - cleaning Spaunton Village Projects - retoration of listed Victoria cross and village pinfold St Hilda's Church, Chop Gate - notice board and seat




St Hilda's Old School, Hinderwell - new energy efficient lighting St John's, Fangdale Beck - restoration of war memorial and new gate Staithes Harbour Store - improvements





Tallest Man in the World Musical - creation of musical play telling local story by Osmotherley and Swainby Primary Schools Teaching Trees - coordination of woodland classess for local schools The Hulleys, Cloughton - topographic and geophysical surveys of prehistoric site




Thimbleby Sports Field - provision of a generator Thirlby Village Improvements - railings for Village Hall, traditional name sign, I.T equipment Underhill Flags, Robin Hood's Bay - repairs to section of historic stone flag footpath




Victorian Geology Experience - display materials and costumes Warren Moor Panel - on site interpretation of the 19th century Ironstone Mine Bilsdale 100th Anniversary Show - contribution to celebrations




Hawnby and Laskill Telephone Boxes - reuse of old red telephone boxes as information hubs Hall Fields Walk, Great Ayton - improved access into woods Battersby Junction - opening up section of historic trod





Goathland Trods - restoration of historic stone trodsBygones of Bilsdale - 3 day exhibition and event to record memories
Hutton le Hole Village Hall - provision of screen for presentations. Photo © Pauline Eccle.





Robin Hood's Bay Museum - promotional signage and display lightingHutton Buscel Churchyard Project - woodland and wildlife education

 Robin Hood's Bay Museum - improvements to the Museum to gain museum accreditation. Photo © Mike Kirby.




Hinderwell War Memorial - renovation Battersby Junction Recreation Ground - contaminated land survey to enable community use Danby History Tree - educational history plate in tree stump




Hawnby Church Path - footpath works for improved and safer access to Church Levishan Wall - rebuilding of prominent drystone wall in Conservation Area Newton on Rawcliffe Village Hall - timber windows




Lastingham Notice Boards - provision of 2 new village notice boards Danby Village Hall - improving energy efficiency. Photo from solarwall.co.uk. St Thomas', Glaisdale - churchyard improvements + information board. Photo from Familysearch.com.




Doorways Project - local youth scheme to involve young people in their community Bridge over the River Esk - erection of bridge to open up circular routes Fryup Cricket Club - new pavilion and improvements to facilities

Byland Abbey and Oldstead Village Improvements - restoration of traditional name signs Appleton le Moors Village Hall Display - provision of display equipment St Michael's, Cold Kirby - heating and lighting improvements. Photo from Familysearch.org.




West Ayton Wildflowers Project - creation of a wild flower meadow


Flithers and Swill, Staithes - production of song reflecting local oral history Handale Abbey Gate - new gate for listed walled garden. Picture of local legend by pupil from St Josephs School, Loftus.









Lealholm Village Interpretation - village information board Kildale Village Boards - information board and two new noticeboards Hawsker Village Interpretation - village information board




Fylingdales Football Team - purchase of starter kit for newly formed local team Rosedale Abbey Pond - restoration Gillamoor Cricket Club - provision of cricket nets for playing field


NYM Riding Routes - promotion of 14 circular horse riding routes through the National Park Gateways - website development for access promotion Chop Gate and Carlton School Wildlife Areas - creation







Sunnyside Trods, Fylingdales - restoration of historic trod Cosy Cottage Steps, Robin Hood's Bay - pavement works Laurel Cottage to Gallery Cottage, Robin Hood's Bay - pavement work





St John's, Pockley - restoration of old Victorian heating system Osmotherley Cobbles - restoration of cobbled area  Ride Yorkshire - creation and promotion of long distance horse ride routes

Ugglebarnby Village Improvements - renovation of traditional sign and trods Levisham Flag Pole - reinstatement of village flag pole
North Yorkshire and Cleveland Heritage Coast Forum Panels - six interpretation panels to help promote work of Forum



Staintondale and Ravenscar Local History Group - digitally recording their archive collections





Staithes Arts and Heritage Festival - equipment to display archivesIngleby Greenhow Name Signs - restoration




Newton on Rawcliffe Church Clock - restoration and repair Kildale Tomb Chests - repair of listed tombs in churchyard



Hawk and Owl Trust - interpretation for Fylingdales Moor

For more information see the full North York Moors SSE Review. Hopefully we will be able to access LEADER funding for the North York Moors and surrounding area again from 2015. In the meantime the National Park has its own Community Fund for small scale local projects.


In search of Juniper: part 1

Alasdair Fagan – Conservation Graduate Trainee

The intrinsic value of Common Juniper (Juniperus communis subsp. Communis) is significant in both cultural heritage and the natural environment.

Many people may have heard of Juniper due to its use as flavouring for gin (the word “gin” derives from an Old French word meaning “juniper”). In fact juniper has historically had a range of practical uses which includes use of its wood in crafts in mainland Europe, and as a key ingredient in a number of historical traditional herbal medicines. Juniper charcoal was also highly desirable as it provided a fast explosion quality to  resulting gunpowder, for instance at the ‘Low Wood Gunpowder Works’ (1798-1935) in the Leven Valley in Cumbria.

Common Juniper has the most extensive natural global distribution of any woody plant. Its range extends across the Northern Hemisphere and includes North America, Europe, Asia, and consequently is of little conservation concern at a global scale. However, in the United Kingdom juniper numbers have fallen drastically. There is a recognised lack of natural regeneration, which has raised concerns for the future sustainability of Juniper populations throughout England in particular.

Common Juniper  is therefore a priority species for conservation. It is listed as a species “of principal importance for the purpose of conserving biodiversity” in the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006) under Section 41 (England).

It is a coniferous shrub or tree which is both evergreen and perennial. It often lives to ages over and above 100 years during which time it often grows up to and including 4 metres in height but has been recorded at heights up to 10 metres. It can grow in a diversity of forms including a variety of upright bush profiles, low-growing mats and towering spires.

Characteristic of upland ecosystems (but can be found down to sea level), Juniper is typically found in moorland, heath and woodland (Pine and Birch) systems and can tolerate a variety of habitats including both acidic and alkaline soils. As one of only three conifers native to Britain (together with Yew and Scot’s Pine) you would be forgiven for expecting it to be widespread and ‘common’ as its name would suggest. Unfortunately Juniper has now become a relatively rare sight in the United Kingdom, and in particular in the North York Moors.

As a ‘dioecious’ plant (plants are either male or female, and not both as with many other plant species) both genders must be close enough to one another such that the wind-borne pollen of male plants may reach and pollinate a receptive female. If this is not the case for a population it has no chance of successfully reproducing and will eventually die out.


Juniper may not necessarily appear to be visually engaging to the viewer but it holds a considerable significant biological importance.

A characteristic native invertebrate fauna comprising 35 insects and 3 mites are supported by the plant, some of which have specialised habitat requirements and restricted distributions. These include both the Juniper Pug Moth and the Juniper Carpet Moth.

Juniper shoots and ‘berries’ (or modified cones) provide an important source of food for wild birds (such as thrushes, waxwing and fieldfares) and mammals (like voles). In addition, over 40 species of fungi, plus a range of epiphytic lichens and bryophytes, are known to be associated with the plant.

During my time here at the North York Moors National Park Authority I have been tasked with the surveying and monitoring the health and progress of existing and planted Juniper throughout the National Park, a priority species in our Local Biodiversity Action Plan. In my next post I’ll be letting you know how that’s going.

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.

Mediaeval world goes digital

Clair Shields – Planning Officer (Building Conservation)

Our historic environment, in the form of old buildings and archaeological sites, is a precious and irreplaceable resource which provides us with enjoyment, inspiration and instruction e.g. learning how our ancestors lived and worked.

Historic buildings form an important part of the National Park’s rural and cultural landscape and provide a rich store of information about the past. Unlocking this store calls upon skills and techniques from a range of historical and archaeological disciplines to gather, analyse and interpret the evidence surviving within a building’s fabric.

With assistance from English Heritage, we are venturing into the world of 3D laser scanning to capture the workings of one of the National Parks most important historic structures – a listed water-powered corn mill with mediaeval origins which still retains a near-complete set of early 18th century wooden machinery.

Regarded as being of national importance, the mill machinery is currently at risk of being lost due to damage from severe flooding some years ago which brought about the onset of extensive wood rot. Some consolidation work is taking place, but the long-term future of the building and the machinery is as yet undetermined because of its poor state, and therefore in the mean time undertaking this comprehensive digital recording of the mill machinery is crucial in order to properly document its existence.

The screenshots below highlight the coverage and quality of the data captured by laser-scanning which can be processed and presented in a variety of ways – including line drawings of plans/sections/elevations, ortho-rectified montages of elevation images and detailed 3D models of the mill workings. The processed data will form an important record of the machinery before further conservation work takes place, since the work will involve replacing original wooden components which are rotting away and are threatening the survival of the mill machinery as a whole. Hopefully what’s left of the machinery can be physically conserved for the future, but at least now we will have the early 18th century original machinery recorded for posterity.

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Building chainsaw skills, dry-stone walls and a career!

Gregor Stuart, one of our former Apprentices and now a Field Assistant, has blogged about his experiences on the Not Going To Uni Blog, have a read!

Learning about lime mortars

Clair Shields – LEADER Small Scale Enhancements Co-ordinator & Planning Officer (Building Conservation)

4A couple of weeks ago a team of us from the National Park Authority’s Planning and Conservation Departments attended an educational (and enjoyable) lime training event to better understand the use of traditional lime mortars in pointing and plastering work. The practical training was delivered by Nigel Copsey from the Earth Stone & Lime Company, at his headquarters in Thornton le Dale. Everyone got to try hands-on re-pointing work as well as having a go at both earth and lime plastering, using a large panel of timber laths, which was the type of construction used for interior partitions and ceilings from the eighteenth century into the twentieth century. The purpose of the day was to make us all better aware of the benefits of using lime over cement and to spread the word to residents and builders in order to try and preserve and improve the built heritage of the National Park.1

The reason for using lime mortars in preference to cement mortars is that cement is an impervious material which is almost always harder than the stone or brick that it surrounds. This means that moisture in the wall (from rain penetration, rising damp or faulty gutters) has to evaporate through the masonry rather than the harder mortar, and through freeze-thaw action this process erodes the surface of the masonry over time, sometimes leading to severe erosion and even a ‘laddering’ effect where the cement survives but the masonry has disappeared!

By contrast, lime mortars are breathable, permeable mortars which will generally be softer than the stone or brickwork. The lime wicks moisture from the masonry, allowing it to evaporate without harm to the masonry-surface. A lime mortar acts as a sacrificial material which protects the more valuable stone or brick – it’s a lot cheaper to re-point every century or two than to replace eroded masonry!2