OA North undertook a community survey of the Holwick, Upper Teesdale, County Durham as part of the Altogether Archaeology project, financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and Natural England. The project aimed to examine the development of a small part of the Upper Tees valley and incorporated the training of local volunteers in a broad range of techniques, that included bespoke aerial photography, LiDAR, documentary studies, identification surveys, and detailed surveys. They combined to tell a remarkable story of landscape development from the Mesolithic period through to the present. The survey recorded 291 sites from a study area of only 2.5sqkm, which gives a quite remarkable 116 sites per sqkm.
One of the most remarkable examples of continuity was in the northern part of the study area, where there was a Bronze Age round cairn in spatial association with a settlement, that had origins as an unenclosed house, and was then enclosed (possibly in the Iron Age, and then seemingly continued in use into the Roman period. The further continuity was represented by an early-medieval character house settlement, which reused the earlier field system. Elements of the Iron Age / Roman field system have been fossilised into the modern day field system, so that there may be continuity of use of elements of the site from the Bronze Age through to the present.
The present Holwick village has substantially contracted since its heyday in the medieval period, which is reflected in extensive medieval cultivation terraces across the survey area. Associated with the cultivated terraces are a number of well- preserved long house settlements which were located at the edge of the enclosed lands. They were evidently mixed farms, since the domestic long houses faced on to the enclosed cultivated lands but the adjacent stock byres had entrances facing out on to the open fell to enable upland grazing.