No blog posts for a while – Summer is not a good time for archaeological surveying as the ground vegetation not only covers features but is a real obstacle to safe surveying – brambles especially! However, perhaps now is a good time to catch up with some of the more exciting and unusual features recorded. From over 15 surveys, we have collected over 500 individual records with accompanying photos.
Arguably most importantly, over 60 pits of various kinds have been found, at least 30 of which are the remains of whitecoal kilns, originally stone lined and used to quickly drive off moisture from stacked cordwood. At the end of the sixteenth century the wood was owned by the Earl of Shrewsbury – who also owned many other woods and lead mills. A letter to him describes his mill in Totley as ‘the most commodious milne in Derbishire.’
However, other possible work sites have been found – a rectangular area that was perhaps a saw pit, 2 charcoal hearths and other features.
The several pairs of stone posts in the brook are as much a mystery as ever though the most popular theory is still that they were used to help dam the water for some reason – perhaps for sheep washing, perhaps to soak wood as lintels under the cordwood in the whitecoal kilns.
As much a mystery is the large worked stone beside the brook – similar to the stone with rock art on it in Ecclesall Woods.
Walls, gullies, drains, paths, field posts, boundary features have all been recorded as well as unusual flat areas. But a really exciting and very recent find was evidence of a possible Romano British field system near the top end of the wood. Thankyou Dr Paul Ardron!
Although there has been no digging for features and artefacts, several have been found including of course several old bottles and a cow skeleton! However, perhaps the most unexpected find was this:
It turns out to be the remains of an early 20th century motorised scooter, made in America. The plaything of one of the Milner sons in those long Edwardian summers before the First World War?
Our record-keeper-in-chief has also recorded that surveyors have:
– fallen in cow pats, streams and barbed wire fences
– eaten 400 sandwiches
– drunk 30 cups of tea & 20 cups of Earl Grey
– exercised dogs for over 50 hours