Monday, 28 April 2014

28 April 2014, Barnsley Pals Project, Day 12

We were rained off again on Saturday, so today was our last day on site. The weather held off and we had glorious sunshine all day long, hardly a cloud in the sky! It was perfect as we had twelve grids left to survey and would need all day if we were to finish on time!

Sue came along to help us and without her help it would have been a difficult task to get finished. Working hard we were all done by three o'clock!

However, the site keeps throwing up new items of interest, like this concrete plinth for one of the Armstrong Huts that would have populated the site when the Pals were there. This was found close to the tree line and indicates that there a lot more huts than we had first anticipated. Not only this, but we also noted that an area near the woods was also giving out readings like a concrete pad. There is a whole lot more to explore here!

Well, that's it, we are all finished for this project. The only thing that remains is to analyse the data, digitise the archive and create the final report. 

It has been Elmet's pleasure to work on the Silverwood Scout Camp site and this project would not have been possible without the gracious support and patience of Mr Paul Unsworth. Also a big thank you goes to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding the project in the first instance. Further thanks go to The Dad's Army of Silverwood Scout Camp for clearing away our spoil heaps!

We would also like to sincerely thank all those volunteers who gave up their precious time to take part in the project, namely; Sandra Andrews, Terence Andrews, Sue Ashton, Paul Bain, Anne Brown, Philip Brown, John Camm, Helen Coe, Syd Dyson, Andrew Edwards, Russell French, Isabelle Heyerdahl-King, Rebecca Hill,  Jan H., Chris Kolonko, Rebecca Newell, Geoffrey Northcliffe, Graham Perkins, Abbie Pettinger, Jo Pettinger, Glenis Ravenscroft, Mark Ravenscroft,  Duncan Simpson, Carole Sotheran, David Sotheran, Patrick Sykes, Sue Worthington, Dane Wright and Stephen Walker. Without you, this would not have been possible!

Friday, 25 April 2014

25 April 2014, Barnsley Pals Project, Day 11

The day began with a light drizzle, but it wasn't heavy enough to put us off initially, so Lauren and Concrete Chris continued recording the second concrete base. Here Chris takes measurements off the base line whilst Lauren draws the points on permatrace waterproof paper.

And the geophysics team continued to search for anomalies underground! They were running their grids over what could be very interesting areas this morning...

...The area in question is this patch of ground between the third base and the clump of tree in the centre of the picture. In the trees at the bottom are the remains of at least one more ablution base. The concrete can be seen just under the foliage. However, there are two flat areas immediately between the trees and the base we have uncovered. It is very likely that these two areas have further concrete bases under them and if that is the case they may be in very good condition!

Our hard work was short lived though, as just after lunch the heavens opened and it began pouring with rain again, too much for us to continue with the resistivity survey so we called a halt to the work. There are now only twelve grids remaining to survey, along with a small amount of recording left to do and we will be finished very soon!

And finally do remember that today is ANZAC day; 25th of April 1915 is the date of the first Australian landings on the Gallipoli peninsular. Remember those men, along with the British, Irish, French and Turks who also fought in that ill-fated campaign.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

24 April 2014, Barnsley Pals Project, Day 10

The rain fell heavily through the night but had cleared up this morning, thankfully! The sun shone all day which was a great help as we were finishing off the recording of the ablutions blocks. Here, Duncan and Graham work on the top block, whilst Lauren gets started on the second base.

By the end of the day two bases had been drawn, with the third one half way through. Duncan and Graham did very professional job on their drawing.

Lunch was also a feast of baking, when Jo and Sue both brought in some parkin and two lots of brownies! It was difficult to get back to work after the break!

Also today, 'Dad's Army' turned up on their dumper...

...and helped us to shift the spoil heaps that we had created!

We also had a site visit from Colonel Norton, formerly of the Yorks and Lancs Regiment. It was a pleasure to show him the area that his uncle trained in and to let him see a part of the regiment's history.

Well, we have two days to go, we are on track to finish on Saturday, the geophysics is almost finished and the recording of the features is also almost complete.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

23 April 2014, Barnsley Pals Project, Day 9

The sun was back today, which was a massive relief to everyone, especially Graham who has been camping on the site! We seized our chance and Graham and Concrete Chris cleaned off the last bits of the final ablution block base, which didn't take long at all.

The rest of the team concentrated on finishing off more geophysical survey grids, again, aided by the lovely weather!

When the cleaning of the third base was compete it was time to take photographs for the archive and you can really see some of the features cut into the structure.

For example, the row of post holes is really obvious and pretty much complete compared to the other bases that we cleaned:

There are still intriguing features though, like this little collection of features, which may have been for wooden steps leading into the ablution block. They appear to have been pressed into the concrete as it was setting.

Now the remaining task is to draw the features, each block will have to be drawn at a scale of 1:20, which will then be digitized back in the office and included in the final report. This will be the lasting archive of this site work and it as important as the actual archaeological digging.

However, there still are surprises, like these imprints in the concrete of corrugated iron sheets, most likely used as the structure's walls and held up with wooden beams, that created the post holes.

You can just make out on this one, two lines of iron sheeting. These were only spotted by the drawing team and demonstrates that some things can be missed first time around!

Then later in the afternoon, the Total Station Theodolite was brought out, now nicknamed the Doomsday Device, and was used in setting out more grids for the geophysical survey.

It didn't take long before a few more rows of flags were laid out ready to be surveyed!

And finally today we also had a visit from the Barnsley Chronicle's photographer, who told us he would make us famous! The feature should be in the next edition! 

The end date is getting closer now and things are picking up pace a little, but we should still be finished in time. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

22 April 2014, Barnsley Pals Project, Day 8

Unfortunately we have had too much of a good thing and the sun disappeared today, only to be replaced with rain!

It had stopped when we arrived at site at about half past nine, but then it started up again and didn't stop. The problem is that we were very close to finishing the last concrete base, but it was just too wet to clean up. Plus the wet ground would lead to some false resistivity readings, so we thought it was better to abandon site for the day!

We will be back tomorrow to see what happens with the weather and we all have our fingers crossed!

Monday, 21 April 2014

21 April 2014, Barnsley Pals Project, Day 7

The day began with a dull overcast weather situation, but many people still turned out to attend to the work on site. The geophysical survey continued and there were ten grids finished off today; a new site record! We are now well over thirty grids finished and once the data is downloaded there should be some interesting results, that will hopefully allow us to understand the layout of the original camp.

The final base was also cleaned today, the volunteers scraped off the moss and the last remains of any overgrowth, ready to take photographs.

This took the better part of the day but the concrete certainly looked better for it! This base will be photographed tomorrow, then we can begin the task of drawing the bases to scale.

David also brought his leaf blower just to clear off the bases, this is probably the first time in archaeology that a leaf blower has been used on site!

There are many other features on the site that are connected to the Barnsley Pals and their use of the land, for example, there is the concrete remains of the camp magazine, used for storing explosives and ammunition. This is overgrown and it may be useful in the future to have a look at this feature from an archaeological perspective as well. 

There is also this ravine in the woods, over which a wooden bridge was constructed, which allowed access to the camp from the Dodworth Road and saved the soldiers from walking a long route around the ravine. Again, there may still be remains of this bridge in the ground.

We are now over half way through the project, we are on time with the work that needs to be done and tomorrow we will start the planning of the bases whilst the geophysics continues. If you are interested in joining in or even just popping down to have a chat, please feel free!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

19 April 2014, Barnsley Pals Project, Day 6

The day began today with a grey overcast cloudy sky, but that didn't dampen people's spirits as we had a good turnout from the volunteers, inlcuding Becca, who had come all the way from Liverpool to join us! The clearing of the third ablutions block base continued, this is the last one we will look at, although there may be three others on the site. We don't have the time to look at the others during this investigation, but we are hoping we may get a chance in the future.

The geophysics team completed eight grids, even though they had to brave the death-defying survey of the Scout campfire! Although this is a modern feature, we still have to record the ground around it, just in case there are any underlying remains.

More features were revealed in the concrete of the third base, they appear to mirror the features in the first base we cleaned and this may give some clues as to the construction of these bases.

With the second base all cleaned and finally finished we recorded it with photography, then later next week it will be fully drawn and levelled, ready to go into the final report. You can see in the photo below that the base was built on top of a layer of rubble.

The sun did finally come out for the last hour of the day, let's just hope it remains like this for the next week. We have done the majority of the cleaning, so next week will be given over mostly to recording the features and it would be a shame to have to do this in the rain!

We are not on site tomorrow, but will be back on Monday, if you are interested in joining us, please feel free to call down, we still have a lot to do!

Friday, 18 April 2014

18 April 2014, Barnsley Pals Project, Day 5

The sunny weather came back today and it brought out a good team of volunteers! We had a chap called John who's great-grandfather had served in the Barnsley Pals and had actually trained at the camp, so it was nice to be able to introduce him to the areas his ancestor would have known for a few months one hundred years ago! The work on cleaning the ablution blocks continued with most of the volunteers working on the central base.

This is the base with the interesting feature at the end, we realised that the two blocks either side of this block are much smaller with different features identifiable in the concrete. It may mean that this central block is for a different purpose than that of the other two, maybe a large shower block, whilst the other two house sinks? It is still too early to make conclusions however and the team has been mulling over these questions whilst they work.

The blocks appear to sit at the end of the marks in the grass that show where the barracks huts would have sat. You can see one of the marks below, the faint outline of a rectangle can just be seen in the darker green grass. There are at least six of these marks, along with six ablution block bases, so perhaps each barrack hut was served by a single ablution block.

Eight more grids were covered in the geophysics survey, we have completed nearly half of the total grids so far, so we are well on target at the moment!

Then at lunch the team had a well earned picnic break!

Cleaning of the third hut base that we are looking at in this work continued as well, this one is more overgrown than the others, so will take a little longer to complete.

However, some more features were quickly seen in the concrete, like these post holes, possibly for internal frames and the like.

On the central base a small pipe was discovered, set into the concrete, maybe this was a structural pole or a water pipe. It is difficult to know precisely at this stage without taking up some of the base to see where the pipe runs.

Amongst the finds today was this seasonal offering...

With work on the top base completed, it was photographed (while the sun lasted!) and the following pictures clearly show the features that we have encountered!

This is the drain outlet, possibly running to a soak-away.

The internal row of postholes that may be for a frame.

The second base was almost finished by the end of the day as well, so there is only the large amount of foliage to remove on the third base before we can record them all in correct archaeological fashion.

Another great day in the sun and lots of work finished off. Today we also had a visit from a young boy who, since talking to us about the First World War and the work we are doing, has given up his dream of being a footballer and now wants to be an archaeologist!!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

17 April 2014, Barnsley Pals Project, Day 4

Day four brought a cold and bitter wind with it, also an ill Christine, who was soon packed off home to bed. With Christine off site there was no geophysics carried out, so the volunteers continued cleaning the ablution block bases. Here Sue, Andy and Russell work on getting the remaining grass off the concrete.

The second block base was also cleaned back by Duncan, Lauren and Alex, the steps you can see on the right hand side are modern insertions created by the Scouts. This base is a different build as it appears not to have the same amount of post holes as the one higher up.

It also has an intriguing feature at the end, found by Duncan. We initially thought it was a communal bath, but as more was revealed it became more enigmatic.

Unfortunately, a large part of the structure has broken away, so we may never know what it was or what its function was.

Then in the afternoon Anne and Philip joined us for more cleaning and this speeded the process up somewhat!

With most of the grass off the top base certain structures and features can now be clearly seen, the post holes for a possible frame are more obvious, as is the guttering system.

The gutter runs around the entire block, emptying out on the bottom left of the picture. We have yet to examine this area, but there may be a soak-away in this area to stop the ground getting swampy with all the excess water. The post holes on both sides of the structure can clearly be seen, as can the line of them down the centre of the base. There is still a little more cleaning to do on this feature, but it is almost finished!

There is still quite a lot more to do, but we will be back tomorrow morning to continue the work, if you want to join us or are just interested in popping along for a chat, please do!