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Project Title: North Pennines Archaeology Historic Dilston 2008 Field School

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This year the field school will be focusing on excavating and recording the remains of the Jacobean Range at Dilston Castle, near Hexham, Northumberland. Dilston Castle and its associated group of historic buildings have a history stretching back about 800 years. The romantic and melancholy story of the 3rd Earl of Derwentwater, who was executed in 1716 for his part in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, still dominates the public perception of the site. There is a growing concern about the need for the conservation of the buildings and of the dramatic landscape setting of parklands, escarpment woodland and riverbanks.
The quality of the historic and natural assets of the site is demonstrated by the numerous statutory designations. Both the Castle and the Chapel were included in English Heritage's register of Buildings at Risk and much work is required to ensure the survival of these buildings for future generations.
During the summer of 2007, the Field School started work recording the initial arch of the Jacobean service range of Dilston Castle, as well as defining in plan the remains of any related buildings. The work is the first step in an ambitious conservation project aimed at opening these structures to public viewing and interpretation and safeguarding their long-term survival: a project which will continue in the 2008 Field School.

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

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

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

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Jacobean Range being uncovered at Dilston, Summer 2007

Some of the Summer 2007 Field School participants

Jacobean Range being uncovered at Dilston, Summer 2007


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