We’re keen on owl pellets on this Blog. For more about owl pellets and what owls have been eating lately – have a look at this post by the Updale Natural History Recorder on the Our Rosedale Abbey Blog.
This gallery contains 55 photos.
This Exploited Land of Iron is our HLF Landscape Partnership Scheme focused on the ‘blazing, booming, enterprising’* ironstone industry in and around the North York Moors in the 19th century, and its surviving legacy. The Scheme was officially launched in … Continue reading
Elspeth Ingleby – Natural Heritage Officer, This Exploited Land of Iron
Wildlife can be wonderfully conspicuous – in the UK there are lots of places where you are assured a wealth of wildlife before your very eyes, be it throngs of guillemot on a sea cliff, ducks and geese scrambling for titbits at a local park, or even clouds of the infamous Scottish midge. However many other species can be much harder to discover, whether because of where they live, what they eat or their sensitivity to disturbance.
But with a little effort and some detective work, you can discover a whole new world of wildlife. Spring is a great time to look a little more closely and see what you can find.
Prints, tracks and signs
You can pick up guides to some of the more common prints and signs (the Field Studies Council produce several) and then with a little practice it is possible to find and follow the footsteps of your local wildlife seeing how animals are using the landscape which is their home. Things to look out for include:
- Bare ground, turned earth or puddle edges which are great for retaining foot prints of passing wildlife – head out a few hours after rain (or snow!) to see what has passed by in the recent past.
- Patches of white splattered on the ground, branches or tree trunks that are a dead giveaway for a regular perch or roost where the resident has lightened the load before taking flight.
- The bottom of fences and around the base of trees which can provide rich pickings of hair tufts which can identify who has been there.
- Holes in the ground that can indicate where a pheasant has scratched, or a badger has dug after worms.
Pellets and poo
You can tell a lot about wildlife from the physical remains they leave behind. Looking a little closer at droppings or the regurgitated pellets of raptors can yield a wealth of information, not only about the eater, but also about the eaten.
At our recent This Exploited Land of Iron launch weekend, we challenged young wildlife explorers to see what they could find within Barn Owl pellets. Within minutes we had identified remains of Field Vole, Common Shrew, Wood Mouse, Robin and Frog showing just what a range of food owls will eat. It’s also fun trying to see how many skulls you can find, or identifying the different bones of the victims’ anatomy!
Many of our native predators use scats (animal excrement) as sign posts advertising their presence and territory to others. Surveying some of our shyest mammals is often done almost entirely by poo alone. The distinctive ‘tic-tac’ Water Vole droppings can identify not only where a population is, but also size of inhabited area, number of population, whether breeding or not – where you could be walking every day and never actually see ear nor tail of a Water Vole.
Smell can be a great way to tell different species apart as a careful sniff can tell you a lot. For instance Otters will leave ‘Jasmine scented’ scats often containing fish bones and scales, on prominent rocks in a stream, whereas Foxes will leave grey, foul smelling scats with wisps of hair, bone and beetle shells in the middle of a path giving clues to their daily haunts and diet.
A slightly less ‘hands on’ approach is to wait for the wildlife to come to you. As technology progresses and costs fall, remote cameras are becoming much more accessible – whether you are hoping to learn about a particular species, or simply work out what is digging up your vegetable patch! Our Land of Iron Programme has recently invested in a number of cameras to help us find out more about the shy and elusive Ring Ouzel which breeds around the moorland edge, and is also known as the Mountain Blackbird. The local population in Rosedale has been vulnerable to nest predation in recent years and we are hoping to catch the culprits in the act by staking out key nest sites. We are also expecting these cameras to give us real insights into Ring Ouzel behaviour, informing how we can best support and bolster the population of these beautiful birds. The best bit? – we don’t have to spend the next three months sitting behind a bush to find out!
Animal tracking can be incredibly rewarding, and a great activity to do when you’re out and about – particularly with kids. You can get involved for yourself by joining This Exploited Land of Iron at the upcoming Rosedale History Society Festival on 22 and 23 April where we will be busy dissecting owl pellets, or taking part in one of the family friendly events at The Moors National Park Centre over the Easter holidays, or just heading out yourself for an explore! However when you’re exploring please remember that most of the North York Moors is privately owned and you’d need permission from the landowner to explore over private land.
As mentioned previously, in the 1850s a seam of iron rich ironstone was discovered in Rosedale. Also known as lodestone, magnetite had long been a valued mineral because of the amount of iron ore it contains, so much so that it is often magnetic.
The discovery in Rosedale led to the rapid development and expansion of the mining and calcining industry there and in the wider area. There were great expectations …
“Professor Phillips delighted and informed the company by his description of the ‘Ironstones of Cleveland’ … The Rosedale band at its richest points, yielded 50 per cent [ore] and in many places 42 per cent. The Rosedale stone was magnetic and contained phosphorous, it was not merely magnetic, but it had an inherent magnetic polarity … There must spring up over the Cleveland district, through the working of the iron ore, great towns, with a numerous and active population; and, as a result, the moorland would be brought under cultivation and this once dismal tract of 20 square miles would rejoice in all the material means that could promote human happiness and prosperity…”
From a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science at Leeds, as reported in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 2 October 1858.
However the actual magnetite seam was soon exhausted leaving the industry exploiting poorer ironstone and slowly declining into the 20th century. The magnetite proved to be rather a flash in the pan.
There are very few natural lakes in the North York Moors due to geology and climate, which makes Lake Gormire on the south western edge of the National Park even more remarkable. In the last Ice Age a hollow was formed by a meltwater channel between the edge of the moving Vale of York ice sheet and the edge of the North York Moors gritstone escarpment. The channel damned up and the lake left behind divided into two bodies of water – Gormire and the much smaller, Buttermere.
These are mesotrophic lakes – containing a narrow range of nutrients in medium concentrations. This type of lake chemistry is rare and becoming rarer as lakes are effected by artificially increased levels of nitrogen and phosphorus and so become eutrophic. Lake Gormire is surrounded mainly by semi natural woodland and fed by springs and so largely circumvents the risks of artificial diffuse pollution and nutrient enrichment.
Because of their chemistry Mesotrophic lakes can support higher levels of diversity of macrophytes (algae), aquatic plants, invertebrates and fish. The fen (‘mire’, ‘mere’) plants around Gormire/Buttermere reflect the acid soil, so there is Marsh cinquefoil Potentilla palustris, Common skullcap Scutellaria galericulata and Tufted loosestrife Lysimachia thyrsiflora, as well as Bog bean Menyanthes trifoliata and Water horsetail Equisetum fluviatile. Gormire is particularly popular with noisy water birds, mating toads and freshwater leeches, all exaggerating the primeval sense inside this Ice Age hollow.
Lake Gormire and the area around it is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. The cliff slope woodland above Lake Gormire is the Garbutt Wood Nature Reserve managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
The Milky Way is a galaxy of billions of stars and planets sometimes partly visible to the naked eye as a milky looking band of light in the night sky.
We’re in the middle of the Dark Skies Festival 2017 here in the North York Moors National Park. The dark skies over National Parks make it easier to see the lights of the galaxies around us. This February is particularly good for viewing Orion and also a very bright Venus.
“February 27 1920 The mysterious stars
…Later in the evening a half-moon shone in a filmy sky across which, from S.E. to N.W., ran a Noë-ship of thin white clouds. A soft mist hung in the far valleys, but the nearer moory slopes loomed clearer. In the pastures the furze bushes were startlingly like huge black beasts grazing on the rimmed herbage. No sounds broke the utter silence of the moonlit hills; the wind had almost died away, but as I stepped over the little rill from Thunderbush Farm [Commondale], I heard its faint, musical ripple.
The ever-mysterious stars flashed through the interspaces of the filmy clouds and circled silently above the dim earth. Sirius flashed due south whilst mighty Orion hung high above the moor edge, his glory somewhat dimmed by the moon. What would life have been without the stars?”
A Man of the Moors: Extracts of the Diaries and Letter of Frank Elgee.
We use the term mini-beasts for the tiny invertebrates that go without notice until they’re looked at under the microscope and a menagerie of marvel and dread is revealed.
Identifying and counting river invertebrates is a very useful way of assessing the health of a river at a particular spot. Certain species indicate good water quality and others, poor water quality; a change in species/numbers indicate a change in water quality e.g. a pollution incident. There is a national programme of riverfly monitoring led by the Riverfly Partnership. Results are recorded centrally and indications of a potential incidents are reported to the Environment Agency. The National Park run a number of local Riverfly Monitoring Workshops for volunteers – the next one is 1 March.
MOSCHATEL Adoxa Moschatellina
Moschatel is a perennial unobtrusive plant which likes the damp, shady conditions found along woodland edges and on shaded hedge banks. It flowers between March and May, producing five lime green flowers on top of a leafless stalk, four flowers face outwards and one flower faces upwards, forming a cubic which has led to the plant’s other common name – Townhall Clock. The plant grows along the ground through rhizomes with the flower stalks growing up through its leaves to only c. 15cm tall. It is a common plant but easy to miss – look out for it in early spring before it gets hidden by taller plants.
MOTTE AND BAILEY
Historic England suggest there are over 600 motte castles or motte-and-bailey castles in England. These were early medieval fortifications built by the Normans and made up of a large mound of earth/rubble (the ‘motte’) with a defensive palisade and tower on top, and an embanked enclosure with other buildings (the ‘bailey’) adjoining.
A motte and bailey castle could act as a fort when required as well as providing the residence for the local landowner/representative of the King and a centre for feudal power. They were often built on high ground to take advantage of the extra height to dominate the landscape and overlook access routes.
Soon after the beginning of Norman rule in England came the ‘harrying of the north’ – a military campaign to overcome and overwhelm the population in the north of the country and hammer home the idea that the Normans were here to stay. The new motte and bailey castles were a highly visible tool for holding that ground and reinforcing that message.
By the 13th century castle design had moved beyond the basic motte and bailey. Although the timber structures have largely gone, the earthworks are often still traceable in the landscape, and rubble mottes and the remnants of stone towers remain. Many are scheduled. Examples in the North York Moors include Hood Hill, Easby motte, and Foss Castle.
Moths are often considered the poor cousins of butterflies in the Lepidoptera family. The most obvious difference between butterflies and moths are that the former are active during the day whereas moths are mostly (but not all) nocturnal, feeding on the nectar of night blooming/night scented plants. Another difference is that when resting, butterflies usually close their wings whereas moths leave theirs open and this makes it easier to examine their intricate patterning and refined colouring. But as with most ecological questions – what is the difference between butterflies and moths? – there is no obvious answer and always an exception. Moths can be just as colourful, just as beguiling and just as in peril, as butterflies. For more on moth conservation see here.
Shandy Hall, Coxwold has become a location for moth study and reporting over the last few years. The gardens there provide a semi-natural/cultivated habitat for many species – over 400 different species have been recorded in the gardens to date.
Our Senior Archaeologist is taking phased retirement, so before he goes he has been asked to reflect on his time with the North York Moors National Park.
Graham Lee – Senior Archaeological Conservation Officer
I started work for the North York Moors National Park in April 1990, having previously worked in the archaeology section of North Yorkshire County Council since the summer of 1983. I had decided many years before that I loved the north of England and had no desire to return to my southern ‘roots’.
One of my first tasks with the National Park was the completion of a management survey of one of our large estates, encompassing moorland and large blocks of forestry. This quickly whetted my appetite for the excitement of making new archaeological discoveries – often very subtle earthworks, no more than a handful of centimetres in depth or relief – despite an exceptional tradition of previous high quality archaeological fieldwork in the region. Working solo in large blocks of conifers was a good test of dedication – crawling under the branches of dense stands of conifers searching for vague earthworks mapped in the 1890s – and the steadiness of nerve, when yet another wretched pheasant exploded out of the leafy vegetation where I was just about to step! In recent years the delights of discovery have been broadening thanks to new technology and techniques, especially LiDAR which provides an aerial view through tree and ground-cover vegetation of archaeological remains that were previously hidden or obscured.
If you have a passion for the past, the North York Moors have something for pretty much everyone – enigmatic Neolithic rock art; surviving prehistoric pitted boundaries and avenues; upstanding Bronze Age funerary monuments and field systems; Roman encampments; medieval castles and monasteries…
Human industry is also well represented – from the earliest iron industry through the search for alum into the full-blown “iron rush” of the mid 19th century, the exploitation of coal and jet, and the plentiful local rivers managed to provide motive power for a range of watermills. Research and conservation priorities relating to these local industries finally led to our new HLF Landscape Partnership Scheme, This Exploited Land of Iron. Some 15 or so years in gestation, it is very rewarding to see new generations captured by the excitement of the important remains of our 19th century ironstone industry and the associated development of early railways – although the original scheme for a canal link between Whitby and Pickering would have been a sight to behold and a major tourist attraction if it had ever been built.
Into the 20th century, remains survive here from both world wars – in the form of coastal defences, army camps as well as troop training and target practice areas. Finds are still occasionally made of 2nd World War unexploded ordnance in former training areas across the North York Moors, in particular after the wildfire on Fylingdales Moor in 2003 which affected two square kilometres of heather moorland.
Although an environmental disaster – the severity of the fire in reducing the shallow peat cover to ash, this event was an archaeological revelation. Virtually everywhere you looked, subtle archaeological remains became visible, including the drip gulleys around former prehistoric round houses, low stony prehistoric boundaries and cairns, large numbers of previously unrecorded examples of Neolithic rock art and occasional shallow trenches which resembled grave cuts with a subsiding infill. As numbers of the latter quickly increased their interpretation became clear – slit trenches from 2nd World War troop training. I remember my first visit to the site after the fire when the ground was reddened and blackened, covered in ash and still smouldering; few trees had survived and many had toppled after the peat holding their roots in place had been burnt away. Flashes of colour were very noticeable, such as an adder emerging from its underground refuge having survived the conflagration. A major project ensued, both to protect and restore the moorland habitat and to record and investigate the breath-taking remains of surviving archaeology.
There have always been new specialisms to get to grips with. A visit to the Scheduled Rosedale iron calcining kilns with the Park’s Conservation Director at the time revealed that a portion of one of the kilns’ firebrick linings had collapsed the previous winter. This led to a major conservation project to stabilise these huge monuments which ran for three years in the mid 1990s, a forerunner of This Exploited Land which will continue the efforts to conserve these monumental sites 20 years on.
It has been such a pleasure working with like-minded and dedicated professionals, both in my own National Park, but also with colleagues throughout the family of British National Parks, and Historic England and Natural England. We’ve shared experiences and ideas to the betterment of our discipline from research to management, and also shared the excitement of attempting to bring our subject, which we love, to life for anyone who cares to see and to get involved.
The National Park Authority is currently looking for a new Senior Archaeologist to lead on archaeology in the North York Moors. The closing date for applications is 26 January 2017.
I, J, K
INTAKE and INBYE
An intake is a parcel of land on the fringes of the moorland which has been “taken in” from the moorland and brought under cultivation i.e. farmed, usually by stock grazing. An intake is often separated and demarked from the moorland with drystone walling using the materials to hand. As a habitat these intakes are often a mix of acid grassland, wet rushy areas and remnant areas of heathland species such as bilberry. There are farms on the North York Moors that have the word intake in their name such as Riddings Intake in Westerdale where the farm holding is nearly all intake.
Inbye land is further down from the moorland, usually closer to the farmstead. Inbye is often the most productive land on an upland farm holding and is used for grass production (hay/haylage/silage) and sometimes arable. Inbye can also provide winter grazing as conditions on the higher more remote areas of the farm, the intakes or the moorland beyond, become too harsh for livestock.
Ironstone is a rock that contains minerals with an iron element. In the 19th century if the iron elements could be extracted the rock had a value. The ironstone in the Jurassic mud stones of the North York Moors and Cleveland Hills was close enough to the surface to make it relatively easy to mine, coal and limestone resources for processing were available nearby, the same entrepreneurs processing the iron were involved with the development of the railway network, and together this made exploitation worthwhile for a short lived period. The first ironstone mine in the area was Hays Mine near Grosmont which opened in 1837; by 1863, 78 of the 108 blast furnaces in the north east of England were using iron primarily from the North York Moors/Cleveland Hills. Most of the ironstone was of a low grade with a high phosphorous content – magnetite (a much purer iron ore) was discovered in Rosedale in the 1850s but it proved to be the exception and the seams were quickly worked out leaving lesser grade ironstone to maintain the industry here. The development of the Cleveland Practice in iron making in the 1860s meant that the problem of the phosphorous content became surmountable for a while and boosted the value of local ironstone. Because of the low grade it was economically advantageous to calcine the ironstone in blast furnaces close to mine sites rather than pay for conveying the unwanted dross as well, and so the resulting pig iron was then transported by railway to the developing town of Middlesbrough and its emergent steel industry.
The financial viability of the industry and the companies involved was somewhat helter-skelter. After the initial rush and a period of consolidation for the local industry, better quality iron ore imports and decline after World War 1 saw the last working ironstone mine in the North York Moors close in 1927.
The impacts of the ironstone industry on the North York Moors’ landscape and communities are a major focus of our This Exploited Land Scheme.
Jet is fossilised waterlogged wood which has been buried between sedimentary rock layers and compressed over millions of years. Buried in isolation and enriched by organic oils jet is formed instead of fractious coal. The wood was mainly from a type of monkey puzzle tree Araucariaceae which grew when the North York Moors were warmer than they are now; plant cellular structures can be seen in real jet.
Jet is only really used for one purpose – ornamentation. The best jet is always pure opaque black. Whitby Jet is a high quality hard jet formed in saline water and so easy to work. The town of Whitby was at the forefront of an upsurge in the popularity of jet jewellery – following the fashion for mourning set by Queen Victoria after the death of her husband Prince Albert in 1852. Jet had previously been collected out of the cliffs or from the sea shore but the heightened demand meant mines were opened across the north of the North York Moors to the west of Whitby; this line is thought to have been the edge of a salt water swamp some 180 million years ago. The enthusiasm for mourning became a social occupation – a widow was expected to wear mourning i.e. black for two years after the death of her husband, although many remained in black for the rest of their lives. Jet was the perfect accessory for the shrouds of mourning.
Whitby Museum has a fine collection of local jet jewellery.
John Bunting (1927 – 2002) was born in London and educated at Ampleforth College on the edge of the North York Moors. The area made a considerable impression on him and he returned to the College to teach art in 1955. He also taught at the York School of Art, and later became sculptor in residence at Ampleforth. Without doubt, his religious faith was central to his work.
In the 1950s John Bunting bought a small piece of land on the edge of the ridge above Byland Abbey and on it he created the War Memorial Chapel . He renovated a derelict farm building on the site himself with the help of a Mr Winspear of Oswaldkirk.
The whole chapel is a work of art. The outside and inside commemorate the dead, in particular four named alumni of Ampleforth College, and the peace the dead sacrificed themselves for. The recumbent stone soldier inside the Chapel wearing WWII commando boots connects the modern age with the past, echoing a tomb of a mediaeval Catholic knight.
The Chapel is also known as the Scotch Corner Chapel; it was round about here that in an earlier conflict the Scots defeated the English in battle.
The Chapel is occasionally open to the public.
There are two genera in the rush family common to the UK, luzula and juncus. Rushes can easily be confused with sedges, and even some grasses. As a rule of thumb, grass stems are usually cylindrical and hollow, sedges are triangular and solid whilst rushes are round and filled with pith – hence the common adage ‘sedges have edges and rushes are round’.
Soft rush Juncus effusus is one of the most widespread rushes in the North York Moors, and on the moorland Heath rush Juncus squarrosus is also commonly found. Other locally important rushes include Jointed rush Juncus articulatus, Blunt-flowered rush Juncus subnodulosus and Sharp-flowered rush Juncus acutiflorus.
Rushes are significant for a variety of animal species. Snipe often build their nests at the base of a clump of rushes near water, whilst meadow pipits feed on the seeds in winter. Lapwing, curlew and redshank also benefit from the damp pasture on farmland where rushes can be found. Rushes are an important food source for butterflies; the Large Heath butterfly feeds on Jointed rush.
Semi natural rush pasture is usually dominated by rushes. The UK priority habitat – purple moor grass and rush pasture – is found in the North York Moors, on or around moorland and in patches on damper ground around flushes or hollows on inbye land. Rush pasture can be managed with light to moderate grazing. The ideal level keeps the Juncus and Molinia caerulea (purple moor-grass) from becoming dominant and allows other species to flourish in these more vigorous swards. Occasional poaching caused by grazing stock can have the beneficial effect of creating varied soil surfaces and bare ground, which can be colonised by the smaller plants. However, as always, too heavy a grazing level will have a negative impact on the botanical interest. Draining rush pasture removes the vital element of water and will modify the habitat leading to the loss of specialist wetland plants.
JUNIPER (Juniperus communis)
Common Juniper is a coniferous shrub or tree which is both evergreen and perennial. It is also a dioecious plant – plants are either male or female, not both as with many other plant species. It often lives to 100 years and can grow up to 4 metres in height, though it has been recorded at heights of up to 10 metres. It grows in a diversity of forms including as an upright bush, as a low-growing mat or a towering spire. It is typically found on moorland/heathland/downland and in pine and birch woodland habitats. It is one of only three “native” conifers in the UK (alongside Yew and Scot’s Pine).
Thirty-five insects and three mites are specifically associated with Common Juniper, such as the Juniper carpet moth (Thera juniperata) and the Juniper pug moth (Eupithecia pusillata). Juniper can also provide an important food source for berry-eating birds such as thrushes, fieldfares and waxwing who help spread the seed that passes through them. Juniper berries have long been exploited by man too, for their flavour, fragrance and presumed medicinal properties.
Juniper is becoming increasingly rare. There are a small number of plants in the North York Moors. The population here is fragmented, and as Juniper is dioecious to regenerate both genders must be close enough to one another so that the wind-borne pollen of male plants may reach and
pollinate a receptive female. Otherwise a population has no chance of successfully reproducing and will eventually die out. Juniper seeds become less viable with age, and natural regeneration of Juniper is also vulnerable to moorland management and grazing. Between 1990 and 2012 over 1750 new Juniper plants propagated from local seeds and cuttings, were planted in the North York Moors through a volunteer initiative. The local Forestry Commission have also been planting Juniper on their holdings, for instance at Bumble Wood. The threat of the pathogen Phytophthora austrocedrae means any further propagation work will need to be self sufficient within the North York Moors.
A kiln is a structure capable of holding material at temperatures high enough to effect chemical change. Quicklime (or burnt lime) is used to improve soil structure and increase the fertility of acidic soils which are common in the North York Moors. It is also used to bind and render stonework. To abstract one tonne of quicklime from limestone you’d need a lime kiln, two tonnes of limestone, and half a tonne of coal (or similar) as a fuel source. Stack the limestone and fuel in alternate layers inside the kiln and heat to 1100°C. Leave for 4 to 5 days to cool. Be careful, because the end product is unstable.
There are records of lime kilns across the southern North York Moors dating back to the medieval period. Kilns were more common in the south because this is where the limestone is. Kiln structures ranged from single basic clamp lime kilns on farmland to lines of industrial heat-efficient kilns next to limestone quarry sites. Remains of a number of lime kiln structures can still be seen in the North York Moors landscape.
This poem was written in the early 1930s at the end of Rosedale’s industrial age, and is a rare primary source. The Rosedale Railway had just closed in 1929, the last working component in the area’s ironstone industry.
The rhyming couplets present the landscape and the character of the dale, at that particular point in time, referencing the industrial structures alongside natural features, local buildings and people. There is an impression of time and continuity – linking before industry and after – the dale is returning to ‘Quietude true and sincere’, the mines are already ‘old’, and the name Leeman (co-owner of the 19th century Rosedale and Ferryhill Iron Company) is falling out of use. But the shops are still open, left over from ‘Busier days’, and there is a proviso – ‘For the present’ – attached to the ‘engines and drivers have gone’, as if industry could yet return.
A. Stands for Avenue, many know well,
Which leads into Rosedale, of which I shall tell.
B. Stands for Busier days Rosedale has seen,
But her beauty’s the same as of yore I ween.
C. Stands for Chimney the storm beaten pile,
Which can easy be seen for any a mile.
D. Stands for Douker wood, way down below,
In the vale where the violets and bluebells grow.
E. Stands for Engine shed, left all alone,
For the present its engines and drivers have gone.
F. Florence Terrace, once a busy place,
To one, Florence Leeman its name we trace.
G. Stands for Grange farm, on first turn to right,
‘ere’ the beautiful avenue comes into sight.
H. Stands for its Hills, which tower so high,
When lads we thought that they reached to the sky.
I. Its Ivy clad church, to there now we’ll repair,
For the names of The Lads are recorded there.
J. Stands for our old friend Jonathon Robertshaw,
He lives at Burn’s cottage, Primrose Villas you know.
K. Reminds us, Knott cottage way up the hillside,
The pleasant home where Mat Peirson’s reside.
L. Stands for Leeman Grove built long years ago,
It has now got another name “School Row”.
M. Stands for Moorland, where when not wrapped in snow,
The Travellers Joy, and the white Heather grows.
N. Stands for Northdale, where if you search well,
You will find on its hillside the place called Job’s well.
O. Old Magnetic ore mines at Rosedale West,
For quality this was the very best.
P. Stands for Plane Trees an imposing spot,
You’ll find Robert Watson still there casts his lot.
Q. Stands for Quietude true and sincere,
If you love this life best you may find it here.
R. Readman’s boot shop your repairs here may send,
He has often had boots sent from Scotland to mend.
S. Stands for Spenceley and Stamper as well,
At whose store nearly everything they sell.
T. Stands for Thorgill, of this place we must tell,
You will find Charley Waller lives down in the dell.
U. Up to its crags we will now pass along,
Where the Rock pigeon nests and the fox has its young.
V. Verdant valley where the cattle graze,
And the streams trickle down through the leafy maze.
W. Wood End Villas, in the tall trees near by,
May often be heard the Wood Peckers cry.
X. Stands for Xmas, and don’t think it queer,
But here as else where it comes once a year.
Y. Stands for Yatts farm with Hartoft quite near,
The Peirson’s have lived here for many a year.
Z. Zig Zag climb to Bank Top you ascend,
Where the motorist oft fail on the hair-pin bend.
Relics of the industrial structures can still be found in Rosedale, as can the woodland and moorland, the trees, the buildings, and the family names. Although the Chimney has gone, Chimney Bank with its ‘Zig Zag climb’ remains.
The This Exploited Land Landscape Partnership Scheme (the trailblazing story of ironstone and railways in the North York Moors) will help understand and enhance the landscape and its legacy of 19th century ironstone exploitation, preserving it for future generations.
Louise Cooke – This Exploited Land Heritage Officer
We’ve had excellent news from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) – we’ve got the funding for This Exploited Land (TEL).
This Exploited Land: the trailblazing story of ironstone and railways in the North York Moors Landscape Partnership Scheme aims to understand, protect and enhance the landscape and its legacy of ironstone exploitation.
We will tell the story of ironstone mining and the associated railways in the North York Moors during the hundred years between 1830 and 1930. It is an exciting and little known story of discovery and industrialisation in a landscape which what is now designated as a National Park. For most visitors, and even for some residents, the extent of the ironstone industry in the 19th century is a surprise. The scale, the extent and the influence it came to have on the development of the North East of England as a powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution at the height of the Victorian Period is poorly understood and the story has never been properly told.
TEL will conserve, protect, record and present a range of important industrial archaeological sites within a distinctive landscape. It will strengthen natural habitats within that landscape: restoring ancient woodland, managing hay meadows and enhancing riparian corridors; and assist rare and threatened species such as ring ouzels and water voles.
- Historic Environment;
- Natural Environment;
- Interpretation, Access and Engagement;
as well as cross-cutting elements which include community grants, a volunteer programme, training and education. The breadth of the Programme hopefully provides something for everybody and is structured in such a way that over the next 5 years and beyond we hope more people can get involved and share our passion for the landscape and the stories that lie at its heart.
Which of the 46 individual projects to be delivered over the next 5 years am I currently most excited about?
After the very long period of project development, it is the very first one – the works to repair the landslip at Rosedale East and to unblock the railway culvert at Reeking Gill.
These are essential works to (1) enable access along the Rosedale Railway to be maintained (and in subsequent years of the project allow access for conservation works) and (2) to ensure the survival of the manmade embankments along the route of the Rosedale Railway – and to retain this important feature of the landscape intact.
Thanks very much to everyone involved so far who have got us to where we are today.
Stay posted – this Blog is going to be an important means of sharing stories and pictures as TEL picks up steam.
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.
2. Iron Lady
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We 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).
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.
We 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Louise Cooke – This Exploited Land Heritage Officer
One of the tasks that we undertook during the just completed Development Phase of the This Exploited Land (HLF Landscape Partnership) programme was to try and establish a better understanding of the landscape character of the programme area.
Understanding, analysing and describing the character types of the landscape includes some obvious ‘easy hits’ – wide open moorland, farmland, river corridors, enclosed wooded valleys. In each of these different landscapes in the This Exploited Land (TEL) area industrial archaeology has left a significant legacy.
For example, the industrial archaeology features are relatively straightforward to see in Rosedale. Alongside the well-known monumental kilns on both sides of the dale, it is possible to make out the flattened ‘terrace’ that marks out the line of the Rosedale Railway, and the ‘inclines’ that mark out the tramways bringing the ironstone from the mine entrances to the calcining kilns for processing. Whilst there are features that are unmapped (or which we are not quite sure how they actually ‘worked’) the industrial archaeology of Rosedale is easy to see in the landscape and so help to present the story of the dale’s industrial past.
But imagine that Rosedale was not an open moorland setting, but was rather in one of the enclosed wooded valleys. All that was easy enough to make out is suddenly very difficult to see and without seeing the features it is very hard to read the story of past industrial exploitation.
This is the case with the Murk Esk valley between Goathland and Grosmont, which today contains a mixture of broadleaved and conifer woodland, including Plantations on Ancient Woodland sites (PAWS) indicating there has been woodland on the site for a long time. But in addition, from c. 1840s – 1890s the valley was a scene of heavy industry including mineral extraction (ironstone and whinstone), calcining and ironworking (at Beck Hole and Grosmont), and associated domestic life. This includes ‘key’ sites such as Beck Hole Ironworks, Grosmont Ironworks, Combs Wood, Blue Ber Wood and Holme House mines. Much of this industrial past is now ‘lost’ or hidden beneath the trees and it is very difficult to isolate, access and interpret the significant remains that are within the areas of dense woodland.
I’ve walked the route from Goathland to Grosmont with my children several times and they like the trees, really enjoy the river, but they don’t ‘see’ this as a historic place – it doesn’t have ‘easy’ to see ruins or landscape features – rather all they see is the trees, and these are somehow ‘old’ and must have always been there. The natural environment has subsumed the historic environment. As such the significance and value of the Murk Esk valley and the vital importance it played in the development of the ironstone industries and railway technologies is very hard to understand.
LiDAR survey employs a laser based instrument which transmits high frequency laser pulses and records the reflected signal which can be used to generate very accurate topographic map data even beneath woodland canopy. LiDAR is one of many ‘remote sensing’ technologies that are used by archaeologists to survey sites from the air – a ‘teched-up’ development from conventional aerial photography.
LiDAR has been used with spectacular results for archaeological discoveries around the world such as Angkor Watt, Caracol and here in the UK in the New Forest National Park (amongst many others). As it enables a landscape-scale approach it is particularly suited to documenting archaeological landscapes and features in a number of other HLF Landscape Partnership Schemes such as TEL. Although much of England is already covered by LiDAR data held by the Environment Agency (who need to understand topography and land use, including creating flood models and assessing coastal change) – the currently available coverage in the Murk Esk valley wasn’t available in sufficient density to make this useful as a tool for identification of the archaeological features beneath trees.
High density LiDAR surveys enable us to ‘see’ beneath the trees and other vegetation where the laser beam has passed between the branches of the trees and been reflected from the ground beneath. So we commissioned our own survey of the Murk Esk valley to be undertaken in ‘leaf-off’ conditions – in the very short window between the leaves falling of the trees and vegetation and the new buds and growth forming – therefore increasing the possibility of the laser beam passing through the branches to the ground beneath. During the end weeks of winter I was spring-watching with increased nervousness in anticipation of the perfect combination of ‘timing’ and ‘weather’. Fortunately our survey was undertaken on the 9 March 2015.
We have now started to use the results to give us a much better understanding of the landscape character of the Murk Esk valley. The survey has demonstrated that the TEL landscape still contains significant unknowns, and there is a wealth of historic and natural heritage information that can be discovered, amalgamated and better understood. The verification of these results, mainly through ground truthing, will be a central element of the community archaeology and volunteer programs delivered through the TEL programme should HLF funding be secured for its Delivery Phase.
With our industrial past revealed by the falling leaves last winter, the scale of the ‘unknown’ is surprising particularly given the relatively recent past represented by the histories of early railways and iron making in the North York Moors. The past is still there to be discovered.