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Dairy Days Dig – more details

Friday 17 August, 2018, by Karen Griffiths

Have you ever wondered what a stack stand is? Do you want to take part in an archaeological dig? This is your opportunity then…

The Community Heritage Officer will be leading a 2-week excavation this September as part of the Dairy Days project.

No experience is needed as training will be provided in excavation and recording.

If this sounds like something for you please contact Douglas Mitcham – or 01969 652353

Doug has sent us some more details about the excavation and the site we’ll be working on:

“Stack stands are poorly understood features of the Post-Medieval landscape, that were used to store hay stacks. They typically comprise a sub rectangular enclosure, formed by a ditch and bank. This excavation will take place in the Hawes area, and it aims to investigate the character, form and date of these little understood features. Training in archaeological excavation and recording will be given.

Floshes Hill stackstand, near Hawes

Stack stands have generally received relatively little attention in terms of previous research. But these features play an important role in understanding the history and development of the landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales, as well as in the development of dairying in Wensleydale. They have been thought to predate the appearance of field barns in the Dales (see White 1997: 77). But our understanding of their period of active use is very limited; none have any direct dating evidence associated with them, and few have been subject to any detailed investigation by excavation (see Fell 2011; YAG 2013 Report). There is some relative dating evidence however, that gives us at least a possible beginning and end to their active period of use, what archaeologists refer to as a terminus post quem (or TPQ, meaning ‘time after which’) and a terminus ante quem (or TAQ, meaning ‘time before which’). Stack stands have sometimes been observed to overlie areas of ridge and furrow ploughing, a type of Medieval cultivation. This provides us with a TPQ, in that they are likely to be of Post Medieval date, because they must have been constructed after such ploughing regimes went out of use. Other stack stands and associated field boundaries are directly overlain by later enclosure boundaries which form the basis of the current land divisions. Examples of this can be seen on Floshes Hill, near to Hawes. This suggests that the stack stands and their associated field systems had gone out of use by the late 18th to the mid 19th century, providing a time before which they must have been constructed and abandoned. It is not known if stack stands continued in use alongside the construction of field barns, or if they continued in used for the additional storage of hay. What this does demonstrate is that there is a clear need to conduct more detailed investigations of these features, if we are to understand how specifically they fit into the development of the dales landscape, and our understanding of the development of dairying.”

Fell, D. 2011. Bainbridge to Stalling Busk Pipeline, Yorkshire Dales National Park. Northern Archaeological Associates Archaeological Monitoring Report (NAA 1141). Barnard Castle: NAA. Report in YDNPA HER, SYD13542.

White, R. 1997. The Yorkshire Dales: Landscapes through Time. Swindon: English Heritage.

Yore Archaeology Group. 2013. Archaeological Evaluation of a Stack Stand at Semerdale Hall Farm, Countersett, North Yorkshire. Yore Archaeology Group. Report in YDNPA HER, SYD14830.

Picture of Karen Griffiths

Karen Griffiths

Interpretation Officer for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority


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