OA North’s latest community project is set in the Duddon Valley in the south-western corner of the Lake District. The project was initiated by the Duddon Valley Local History Group who had for many years been surveying the valley and had discovered a group of three medieval longhouses in the hills near Seathwaite Tarn. They, in collaboration with OA North and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, set about surveying and excavating the long houses as part of a major three-year project.
The initial stage was a detailed survey of the houses. This entailed considerable training in basic survey techniques for the members of the group, although a UAV was also used to model the overall longhouses and their environs. These surveys demonstrated that the houses had an extended development from simple shielings to developed farmsteads.
The excavation was superb. The physical remains of the longhouse were considerable, and the volunteers were fantastic; they were very capable, very sociable, and very enthusiastic. The structure of the longhouse was quickly revealed, and was found to have a cross-passage arrangement, and had three hearths of different dates and two cobble floors.
We despaired of being able to find uncontaminated and disturbed charcoal for dating, but fortunately, on the last day (inevitably) we got some good charcoal beneath the lower floor and the side wall and we are optimistic that we will be able to get at least one good date.
For more information about the project, click here to read the project blog.