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Community to dig Bainbridge village green

From left to right: Dales Volunteer involved with the dig, Howard Gibbs; YDNPA Senior Historic Environment Officer, Miles Johnson; a Bainbridge resident who has given permission for a pit in her garden, Barbara Gardner; Dales Volunteer, Jane Filby; YDNPA Community Heritage Officer Rebecca Cadbury-Simmons
From left to right:  Dales Volunteer involved with the dig, Howard Gibbs; YDNPA Senior Historic Environment Officer, Miles Johnson;  a Bainbridge resident who has given permission for a pit in her garden, Barbara Gardner; Dales Volunteer, Jane Filby; YDNPA Community Heritage Officer Rebecca Cadbury-Simmons

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Bainbridge, 10 April, 2017

The Lords Trustees of the Manor of Bainbridge have given permission for an archaeological dig on the village green this summer.

The Yorkshire Dales Young Archaeologists Club, local schools and community groups will be involved in the three-month long project, which could shed fresh light on the period of Roman occupation of Britain.

The Roman fort of Virosidium lies immediately to the east of Bainbridge and while that has been excavated, the village itself has not.

At least 25 test pits measuring a metre square will be dug by hand on the village green and in private gardens, starting on the 22nd of April.

The project is being managed by the Community Heritage Officer at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA), Rebecca Cadbury-Simmons, on behalf of the Yorkshire Dales Young Archaeologists Club.

Each test pit will be excavated by a team of six people to a maximum depth of 1.2 metres.  Earth will be sieved, photographs taken and finds recorded. Any pottery, metal objects and animal bone will be examined by specialists.

Volunteers are being actively recruited through Bainbridge Parish Council and the YDNPA volunteer network.  Primary school children from Bainbridge, Askrigg, West Burton and Hawes will be taking part in the project.

Bainbridge is one of the few definitively Roman sites within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The current hypothesis is that the Romans occupied this part of the Dales in order to mine lead for their plumbing systems.

Yorkshire Dales Young Archaeologists Club branch leader, Amanda Beckwith, said: “This project is extremely interesting archaeologically.  There is scope to learn an enormous amount about the life around the fort of Virosidium.”

“But we’re not just interested in the Roman period. It’s thought that the land was in use before the Romans arrived, and we know that Bainbridge was the administrative centre for the medieval hunting forest, the Forest of Wensleydale.

“This is a really exciting opportunity for the local community to work together to explore the archaeology in their back gardens and to discover shared history.”

The test pitting will come to an end on the 30th of July. Post-excavation analysis of finds will be carried out during August and September, and the results displayed at an open evening in the autumn. An archaeological report will be produced by the end of January 2018.

The project has received £9,000 from the YDNPA’s Sustainable Development Fund. The money will be spent on items such as coach travel for children to and from the site; a geophysical survey; public liability insurance; and information booklets which will be made freely available to the public.

Two similar digs have taken place within the National Park in recent years, one in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale, the other in Long Preston, both of which were very successful.

If you are interested in taking part in the Bainbridge dig, please contact Rebecca Cadbury-Simmons on 01969 652 353 or rebecca.cadbury-simmons@yorkshiredales.org.uk

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