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Bainbridge Big Dig – the results

Bainbridge, 26 October, 2018

A 5,000 year old flint arrowhead, an almost complete Roman-era pot, and a bullet from a Lee Enfield British Army rifle were among the 12,000 ‘finds’ uncovered in Bainbridge last year during the ‘We Dig Community’ archaeology project.  

A handy 16-page booklet, ‘Test Pitting in Bainbridge – from Arrows to Bullets’, has been produced to highlight the project findings. It has been delivered to Bainbridge residents, members of the Young Archaeologists’ Club and the local schools which took part in the project.  A separate detailed archaeological report has been archived in the Historic Environment Record.

A total of 30 test pits measuring a metre square were dug by hand in and around the village between April and October 2017.   Pits were dug on the village green, in private gardens, the Quaker Field and the cemetery near to the site of the Roman fort of Virosidium.

The finds – which also included an iron sickle and a 200 year old bone domino – will be either archived in the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes, or returned to the landowner.  

Senior Historic Environment Officer at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Miles Johnson, said:  “The project has given us tantalising glimpses into the origins and development of Bainbridge.  The majority of finds were from the last 200 years and show the fascinating detail of people’s everyday lives.  Thimbles and scissors were found along with animal bones from the kitchen and fragments of old games and toys.  

“What we didn’t find was also important.   Given the presence of Virosidium on nearby Brough Hill, it was a surprise to discover only a few fragments of Roman pottery in the village.  It tells us that the area now occupied by the village was perhaps used as agricultural land in Roman times.  The evidence from the test pits also appears to suggest that there was very little human activity within the area of Bainbridge village between the end of the Roman occupation and the 11th century.  This strengthens the idea that the site of the Roman fort continued to be occupied as a settlement until the Norman conquest, and that the village of Bainbridge was a post-conquest creation.

“The success of the project can be measured by the way it connected people to the past. Residents did much of the digging, alongside children from Hawes, Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton primary schools, the Young Archaeologists’ Club and the Young Rangers. ”

The project was made possible with a grant of £7,287 from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund and a grant of £1,296 from the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (Roger Stott Fund).

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