Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Snow Fun!!!

I'm trying to find the some historical data on the worst snow/coldest weather for the region.  So far all I've managed to find is:

During the Winter of 1614 the Friars Bridge in Doncaster was destroyed by the resulting flood.  The bridge was rebuilt by Doncaster Corporation later that year.

The worst winter ever recorded was during the mini-ice age in 1683. bad Frosts and snow meant the ground was frozen up to a depth of 27 inches in Manchester. Ice flow after a quick thaw destroyed both Newark and Nottingham (Hethbeth?) bridges across the Trent.  The frost lasted for 13 weeks around Doncaster according to "The History and Antiquities of Doncaster and its Vicinity".  The next 16 years also have six of the worst winters on record following this.

The winter of 1739/1740 was the second worst winter on record another severe frost occurred commonly known as the "Hard Frost" or "Great Frost".

In 1795 between 24th December and 9th January there was a hard frost and heavy snowfall.  The snow and frost melted pretty quickly leading to flooding along the Trent Valley.

In 1838 the River Don was frozen for ten weeks, during this time ice-skating and a cricket match were played on the river in Heeley.

In 1860 the river Ouse froze over enabling horse and carts to cross.  The Trent at Gainsborough froze stopping sailing from the port. The occurred again in 1879

The worst modern blizzards in this area occured during 1933 when drifts of up to 14 feet were widespread through Derbyshire.

During January 1940 there was severe snow which was only surpassed by 1963.  Sheffield witnessed over 4 feet of snow.  Heavy snowdrifts occurred. Due to a ban on weather reporting during the war no-one was informed the sow was coming.  The Woodhead Route between Sheffield and Manchester became blocked on more than one occasion with teams of  soldiers having to dig steam trains out of the snowdrifts.

1947 is probably the longest winter in our lifetime.  Snow fell everyday in the UK between 22nd January and 17th March.  There was still snow on the hills in the Peak District until summer.  Nottingham experienced 320 hours of frost, 602 hours of temperatures below 0c and a staggering 38 days of snow on the ground.  At the end of this even there was widespread flooding.  During February there was a lack of visible sun for 22 days noted in Nottingham (79%). Many roads in the Peak District were cleared by German prisoners of war who were still interred nearly two years after the end of hostilities in Europe. 

The temperatures during the 1962/1963 winter, make it the coldest of the 20th century.  During 1963 the temperature fell to 4f and parts of the Rivers Derwent and Trent froze.  This was the first time the Trent had frozen since January 1895 when the river was frozen for ten days. The Trent also froze in 1855. The Humber froze over at Brough. After the thaw the Trent burst its banks at Gainsborough  leading to widespread flooding. Snow was on the ground in many parts of the country for 67 consecutive days. It was the coldest January since 1814.

There were two snow events in 2010 which brought the country to a standstill, the first happened in January when hard snow fell.  At the end of the November a Baltic blast brought over a foot of snow in less than 24 hours.  Snow fell pretty much every day between the 27th November and 3rd December.  The A57 at Todwick became a no-go area with scores of lorries stuck.  They were rescued by the rescue teams from Woodhead more used to mountain rescue.   Temperatures reached -17c in some areas of Yorkshire and daytime temperatures didn't fair much better.  Later the next week the M8 in Scotland became impassible under similar circumstances which resulted in the Transport Minister resigning.  Robin Hood airport was closed after a light commercial jet slid off the runway.

On December 16th an Arctic high brought further snow and once again temperatures were reduced into sub zero degrees for much of the next few days. By the 17th December the south of the country received a heavy covering of snow closing most airports.  On the night of the 17th there was light snow in our area but due to the temperatures being around -10c this instantly froze to the roads and pavements and mixed with a light frost.

I'll keep updating as I collate more data.  Last update: 18/12/10  10:10

Friday, 26 November 2010

Battle of Worksop 16 December 1460 (Latest Update)

It is the year of our lord, 1460, our country is in great strife and bloodshed is imminent. Our Queen has begun an uprising in the north against the pretender, Richard of York. He has himself risen an army and is marching north to meet us in battle” You can imagine the Lancastrian Lord of Worksop Manor, John Talbot thinking this little knowing that the area where he lived would become the first place where the Yorkist and Lancastrian forces would clash on their way to the Battle of Wakefield.

On the 16th December somewhere around Worksop, this little known chapter in the Wars of the Roses , quite how many men were involved and the exact location were unfortunately never recorded for future generations. There is only one contemporary account of the battle written by William of Worcester, a chronicler in his book 'Annales rerum Anglicarum'. If it hadn't been for this account, the battle would have disappeared into the mists of time:

The Duke of York, with the Earl of Salisbury and many thousand armed men, were going from London to York, in December 1460, when a portion of his men, the van, as is supposed, or perhaps the scouts… were cut off by the people of the Duke of Somerset, Edmund Beaufort at Worksop”

In October 1460 Richard Plantagenet, the 3rd Duke of York, had declared the Act of Accord which parliament passed on the 25th. This sealed him and his sons as the future Kings of England after Henry VI's death, which was unacceptable to Henrys wife, Margaret of Anjou as their son, Edward of Lancaster, would never be monarch. The Lancastrian sympathizers, under Queen Margaret, who had fled to Wales after Northampton, and aided by the Percy family grouped their army together at Hull before taking the city of York and moving onward to the royal fortress at Pontefract. The Lancastrians had had been pillaging Yorkist estates whenever possible to cause as much psychological insult as possible. Richard marched out of London on December 9th with Lord Salisbury and the Earl of Rutland and a supposed 6,000 strong force to muster an opposing army to destroy this uprising. Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and Edward, Earl of March who had been the deciding factor at Northampton, however remained in London.

South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire loyalties were split: Lancastrian forces controlled Sheffield and Worksop under the Talbot family Whilst Tuxford and Doncaster were controlled by Yorkist forces. It is unclear who was in control of Conisbrough castle as it had been forfeit during the time Richard was classed as a traitor and in Ireland. But why did the Yorkists come out of their safe zone and into enemy territory?

The first possible explanation is that Yorkist forces had come to raid the market which was held every Wednesday, coming into the town the day before would have been opportunistic for grabbing goods from farmers and labourers as they were coming into town. Food would be scarce at this time of year which is why warfare at this period was normally confined between Easter and September. Retford also held a market but this was held on a Saturday so most stock and goods would probably be still on their respective farms and harder to source. There were also markets at Blyth and Bawtry (Wednesday or Thursday).

The only other plausible explanation is revenge! The Lancastrian Talbot family owned Worksop Manor had done well under the Henry. Before his death at the Battle of Northampton on 10th July 1460, John Talbot, the 2nd Earl of Shrewsbury had been High Treasurer of England as well as High Steward of Ireland. He had married Elizabeth Butler who's family was also Lancastrian and had seven children. Elizabeth's brother James Butler had married Eleanor Beaufort which may explain why Edmund came to Worksop before going north. Richard hated the Beaufort family and blamed them for losing the Hundred Years war. He had successfully disposed of the 1st Earl of Somerset at the Battle of St. Albans in 1455. If he had heard one of the family were close and without huge forces behind them, he may have wished them to be killed on the spot.

Routes Taken
So how did both forces end up in Worksop? The only thing we can be sure of is where the armies set out from. The Lancastrian forces of Somerset had started off at Corfe Castle, in Dorset and marched north via Exeter where the cavalry split from the foot soldiers to reach the Queens forces faster. The Yorkists had come from London so more than likely had come up the Great North Road and were heading towards Doncaster. Although Conisbrough was one of Richards castles this extremely small so was not an option for a large army. William of Worcester noted they were heading for York, this would have not been possible however as Lancastrian forces had already stormed the city walls. Keith Dockray and Richard Knowles report on the 'Battle of Wakefield' describe widespread flooding at this time, this would make progress slow, cumbersome and miserable especially with the heavy armour and wagons which would have accompanied both forces.

Newark was the 'Key to the North' and during this times was in Yorkist hands so very friendly territory. The town also had a market on a Wednesday so it would have been likely that Richards army would have stayed here, this could also be a reason why a full scale battle didn't happen in Worksop – the main forces were here and the forces further north were trying to source food so when the main army came north they would not go hungry! The 'County Corporate' of Nottingham was also in favour of the Yorkist cause and became heavily fortified during this period. This could also give a good reason for the Lancastrian forces staying so north as to avoid confrontation without their superior numbers now centred around Pontefract.

So what route did the Yorkists take from London to Sandal Castle? History seems to be very quiet on this! I would have expected lots of details along the lines of “Richard of York came here and recruited xx soldiers” but no, nothing seems to be available which is strange especially as the south was mainly Yorkist territory. This may be because the 'Commission of Array', where the army was recruited on the way, was becoming replaced at this time by 'indentures' (a legal contract giving land/buildings for services). But official histories for the time note he went with a commission so there must have be some record at some point, maybe it was destroyed during the reformation or is in the back of a collection or museum undiscovered! Hunter noted in his 'History of Yorkshire' the Croyland Chronicle, written in 1486 in Lincolnshire, was badly damaged for the part before the Battle of Wakefield, were preceding events erased from history on purpose?

One thing seems to be certain the only large crossings over the Trent big enough for an army were at Nottingham and Newark. Newark's bridge had been replaced in 1457 after flooding on the Trent had washed the original away, the replacement was made out of oak with stone towers at each end and paid for by the church. Nottingham's bridge was maintained by public donations and was known as Heyghbeythbrugge or the Hethbeth bridge, this was large enough to have its own chapel and two wardens. There are quite a few records relating to this bridge from the period by the only mention of an army travelling over it occur in 1470.

Assuming Richard went from London via Newark and Doncaster to Sandal this would have been a trip of around 190 miles, we know he set off on December 9th and arrived on December 21st which averages out at roughly 16 miles per day. If the main force was at Newark on 16th December (120/7) this would average out at 17.14 miles per day which easily fits into the schedule. Newark onwards though takes considerably longer 70 miles in 5 days or 14 miles per day. This is probably due to entering a mainly Lancastrian area and having to send scouts out looking for the enemy. Would the army have marched on a Sunday? This day would have been an important religious day of rest and possibly the troops would have had to find several local churches to pray in.

It is possible that the return of Yorks body in July 1476 for burial at Fotheringhay retraced his route north? This funeral cortege stopped at Doncaster, Blyth, Tuxford and Newark in our area which seems the quite appropriate, all these townships were Yorkist strongholds and the Great North Road would have been the easiest route to take thousands of troops, cavalry, wagons and associated blacksmiths and personnel.

Where was the battle?
Assuming revenge was in order, the area around Worksop Manor would be a likely place. The Lancastrian troops may have been up at the original Manor Lodge which was next to the present building. A quick dash could have resulted in unprepared soldiers taking on a centralised and prepared marching camp of men ready to go north.

If they were looking to capture the market and the Lancastrian army was resting up in town, the area around the priory would have been ideal, the troops may have camped out on the common (now under Smith flour mill). The battle could have occurred right there, these factions were not scared of fighting next to holy ground in fact it seems to happen quite often, the battle of Northampton took place just north of Delapre Abbey and Tewkesbury was in the fields just south of their abbey. Of course all this is speculation, the fights location was not recorded so could have easily been on a road outside of town. The castle is an unlikely spot – it was out of use before the end of the Norman occupation and would have been pretty hard to defend.

No weapons have ever been found which could locate the area either, swords were still the mainstay of the army but muskets and canons had begun to be used. Rich people could afford plate armour and chainmail but normal troops had to do with whatever they could take from bodies of the enemy so anything left could have been taken at the time. The bodies would have probably been buried although depending on what side they were from could have resulted in being thrown in a pit rather than individual graves. Headstones weren't in use at this period and only rich people could afford effigies. Regardless of side someone would have been paid for the work of digging and this evidence could exist in pipe rolls.

Size of the fight!
The term 'Battle' may be a bit over exaggerated, my own personal theory is that scouts from the Yorkist army met stragglers from the Lancastrian army and the fight was over pretty quick. This could explain why Edmund Beaufort is mentioned and not his brother Henry who was the Earl of Somerset at this date. I would expect Henry would have stayed with the cavalry when leaving Exeter leaving his younger brother in charge of the foot soldiers. No major league players were killed either, which happened at every other battle over the next few months. Prisoners of the Earls, Lords and Royalty doesn't happen – they were killed on the spot or executed pretty soon after capture.

Missing Tomb
It is well known that the second Earl of Shrewsbury/seventh Baron Furnivall, John Talbot was killed at Battle of Northampton trying to stop the Yorkist forces capturing the king. His body would have eventually been returned to his family and should have been buried at Worksop Priory with his ancestors. His tomb has never been discovered unlike those of the rest of his family. Could this have been desecrated by the Yorkist forces or is it still lying somewhere in the priory grounds awaiting discovery? One thing is certain though the Talbots after this point decided to be buried at Sheffield Cathedral.

Other Important Figures:
Conisbrough: Vicar Richard Symmes (resigned Nov 1471)
Doncaster: Vicar Thomas Pesson(Pereson) (resigned Dec 1471)
Thoresby Hall: Henry Pierrepoint Lancastrian – knighted
Tuxford: Humphrey Bourchier (later Lord Bourchier of Cromwell)
Welbeck Abbey: Abbot John Greene
Worksop Manor: Elizabeth Butler (John Talbot's widow)
Worksop Priory: Prior Carolus de Flemyng/Vicar John Emsley or Walter Burne

MoD approves exhumation of Polish soldiers to solve mystery of General Sikorski's death

A very interesting story from The Telegraph:

The bodies of three Polish army officers buried in Britain are to be exhumed as part of an investigation into the mysterious death of Poland's wartime leader.

The officers died alongside General Wladyslaw Sikorski, then Poland's prime minister and military commander, when his RAF Liberator plunged into the sea shortly after taking off from Gibraltar in July 1943.
The Ministry of Defence have approved the removal of the bodies from the Polish military cemetery in Newark, Nottinghamshire, early next month. They will then transport the remains to Poland with full military honours for a post mortem.

Although a wartime British inquiry deemed the crash an accident, Sikorski's death has long been the subject of enduring and colourful conspiracy theories, which claim that the general died at the hands of Stalin's assassins, or even British agents working under the orders of Churchill.

B24 Liberator II/LB-30 AL523 took off from RAF North Front at 23:10 04/07/1943. The only photo of the plane I can find is of it upside down in the water with its undercarriage down! Oddly the second pilot is relatively unknown and Prchal had never flown with him before.

Five bodies were never found and the bodies were never positively identified in the Liberator II’s crash.  There are two earlier incidents in preceding months where it looks like General Sikorski’s planes had been sabotaged. The night before the crash a soviet plane had been parked next to the unguarded plane so one of the conspiracy theories is that the Russians planned to kidnap him. Another interesting fact is that the documents relating to the crash are still classified. Sikorski was exhumed in 2008 from Wawel Cathedral in Krakow but the investigators deemed his death as being consistent with a plane crash. It is worthy also to note that Sikorski himself was buried at Newark on 16 July 1943 until 1993 when his body was taken back to Poland.

1.General Władysław SikorskiPrime Minister and
Commander-in-Chief of Poland

2.Zofia Leśniowska Chief of the Polish Women's Auxiliary

3.Major General Tadeusz Klimecki Chief of the Polish General Staff

4.Colonel Andrzej MareckiChief of Operations Staff

5.Lieutenant Jozef PonikiewskiNaval A.D.C.

6.Adam Kulakowski Personal secretary to Sikorski

7.Colonel Victor Cazalet M.P., British Liason Officer

8.Brigadier J.P. Whitely M.P.

9.Mr. W.H. Lock(Never found, presumed dead)

10.Mr. Pinder Head of British Intelligence Service in the Middle East
(his position was never revealed to General Sikorski)

11.Bombardier Gralewski (Joined the party at Gibraltar)


1.1Lt Edward Maks Prchal Captain/1st Pilot

2.Squadron Leader W.S. Herring 2nd Pilot (never found)

3.Warrant Officer L. Zalsberg Navigator

4.Sergeant F. KellyFlight Engineer

5.Flight Sergeant C.B. Gerrie Radio Operator/Air Gunner

6.Flight Sergeant D. Hunder Radio Operator/Air Gunner
(never found)
Was Mr Pinder: PINDER, Harry, Warrant Telegraphist, HMS Nile, 4 July 1943, aircraft accident, killed

Computer Identifies Most Boring Day in History

So Sunday April 11th 1954 is, according to a computer program, the most boring day in history! A computer program called True Knowledge created by Mr Tunstall-Pedoe calculated that the only stories that day were a general election in Belgium where the CVP/PSC party won with 41.1% of the vote, a Turkish academic, Abdullah Atalar who’s field is electrical engineering, was born and Oldham Athletic, Birmingham and Notts. County footballer John “Jack” Shufflebotham died (April 11th isn’t actually given as his date of death so this may be incorrect).
Do you know any interesting facts for this date? If so please comment below.  We’d love to prove this date was far more interesting.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Beautiful Blyth (Village Auction 1929)

From the Worksop Guardian Friday, November 29, 1929 Page 3:

Not without reason has Blyth, near Worksop, been termed "Beautiful Blyth."  There are other villages in North Notts., and just over the South Yorkshire border, which are picturesque and unspoilt; but Blyth, with its spacious green shaded by noble trees, its houses with garden fronts joining up to the very road itself, has that indescribable charm which the storied past alone confers.

Stand where you will in Blyth, the old grey tower of the great Church is a visible reminder of the days that are no more.  Blyth is described as a village, and a village it is, one of the old-fashioned ones which are the glory of the English countryside; yet in days past it ranked as a town, and had its half-yearly fares for live-stock and other forms of merchandise.  Pens and stands were set out on the green, and likewise on the greensward near the Church, now neatly railed off, as shown on the photograph, and dealers  and itinerant vendors, with a whole company of musicians and other folk who thrived by ministering to the amusement or the folly of their fellows, foregathered at the fair.

In still older days, when the prior of Blyth was a person to be reckoned with-for he had the privilege of hanging those worthy in his judgement of condemnation on the gibbet - the fares of Blyth must have presented a brave and picturesque spectacle.  Strangers would make the fair the occasion of piety and pleasure. They would enter the church of the Benedictine brethren and kneel and pray, and would, perchance, be shown the treasures the monks had been able to amass for the glory of their convent.  Yet we may be quite wrong, inasmuch as the monks and the townspeople did not get on well together; and disputes were frequent and prolonged.

In still earlier days, many a gallant cavalcade of knights and squires, such as that which met the eyes of Gurth and Wamba in "Ivanhoe" must have passed through Blyth on the way to the tourney field at Styrrup.  Blyth was the nearest "town" to the tourney, and no doubt many a noble guest was entertained by the Prior in the Guest House of the monastery, and many a gallant soldier found hospitality at the "Angel", the foundations of which suggest that it was inn existence in the Middle Ages.  Tradition has it that a subterranean passage led from the "Angel" under the Priory and came out at some point near Styrrup.  There are others who cherish the belief that Roger de Busli, the first Norman Lord of Blyth, as he was of Worksop and Tickhill, had a castle here, but inasmuch as the valiant Roger had his place of strength at Tickhill, it is hardly likely he would build a castle near the monastery he founded at Blyth.

Much could be written concerning Blyth and the many notables associated with it.  The late Rev. John Raine wrote quite a large book on the subject, and though changes in the social life of England were beginning to manifest themselves in his time, the erudite vicar could never have contemplated the idea that the village as a whole would one day be offered for sale by auction.  This momentous change in the long history of Blyth has now come about, and on Thursday next the Blyth Hall Estate, comprising 3,216 acres, including the Hall, will be offered by Messrs. John D. Wood and Co., London, in conjunction with Messrs. Henry Spencer and Sons, Retford and Worksop.  This has come about by the death of the late owner, the first lord Barnby.  When he purchased the estate 40 years ago, Blyth did not present the neat and attractive apperance it does to-day.  Most of the houses were in a bad state of repair; farm buildings were in a similar condition; and the entire aspect of the village was one of neglect and decay.  How all this was changed is well-known, and the one regret the inhabitants have is that the present Lord Barnby has decided to sever his connection with the place.

The Sale catalogue comprises 130 lots, including the mansion, Wilto Lodge, Blyth; The Friary, Tickhill; four other residences, 15 mixed and dairying farms, two fully-licensed hotels, over 100 cottages, shops and business premises, and 250 acres of woodlands, etc.  The sale takes place next Thursday, at 11 a.m. The solicitors are Messrs. Holditch, Anstey and thompson, Southernhay. Exeter.

From the Worksop Guardian Friday, November 29, 1929 Page 9:
____________Sales by Auction________
__By Messrs.HY, SPENCER & SONS.__
MESSRS HENRY D. Wood & Co., and
(in conjunction), on 
in the
3,323 ACRES.
For Illustrated Particulars and Plans apply
6, Mount Street, London. W.1.;
20, The Square, Retford, and 12, Potter
Street, Worksop.
Southernhay, Exeter 

Medieval Room Found under Lincoln Castle/Loss of Historical Church Records

The recent excavations around Lincoln Castle have now revealed a medieval circular room under the current ground level.  The room was discovered during work to install a lift to enable visitors to gain access to the curtain wall more easily. Hopefully when the feature is completely excavated its use will become known.  This could also indicate that other previously unknown early structures could survive within the area.
A survey has recently been carried out after concerns over the loss of important historical documents from churches in the past several years.  The problem seemly arises when the building runs out of storage space for keeping the documents in and lack of staff training.  

We have noticed this locally when one of our members retrieved lots of historical Victorian documents from a local church in a skip.   

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Charles Dickens in Sheffield 1855/Sheffield Jungle 1910

An interesting story in today's Star over the find of an old newspaper revealing Charles Dickens visit to Sheffield in 1855 http://www.thestar.co.uk/headlines/1855-paper-tells-of-Dickens.6636841.jp . He appeared on 22nd December and read from his book "A Christmas Carol" at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers http://www.dickens-literature.com/Speeches:_Literary_and_Social/15.html

The BBC reported on a jungle which visited Sheffield in 1910!A multitude of exotic animals were displayed on the ex-slum site and its history is currently being researched by the University of Sheffield
The Jungle website is located at http://www.nfa.dept.shef.ac.uk/jungle/index.html

Trent Vale Archaeology Blog

As part of the Community Archaeology project on the river Trent the Trent Vale Landscape Partnership runs a blog with regular updates on their projects of this historic landscape which still has remains from prehistory to medieval and beyond.  Their latest blog covers the work done around Knaith the other weekend, the new mosaics at Gainsborough and recent work at Littleborough:

The latest instalment is available at: http://trentvale.wordpress.com/

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Archaeology in South Yorkshire: Number 13 Now Available

The latest edition of South Yorkshire Archaeology Service's "Archaeology in South Yorkshire" review covers the years 2005-2007 and gives brief details of hundreds of excavations and watching briefs from the area. There are a good selection of maps, diagrams and photographs to illustrate the areas extensive wealth of historical artefacts.  There are also several in depth reviews of sites such as Tickhill Friary, Brodsworth and Thorne Moors.

This book is well worth buying and is available from SYAS priced £12.50 ISBN 978-0-9557341-0-6
http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/planning-and-city-development/urban-design--conservation/archaeology/annual-review (although this edition isn't showing as of yet)

Probably further section of Roman road in Doncaster

Report from the Star on 15th November, this is probably the road called 'Via Militaris Antonines' on the 1849 maps of Doncaster:
A DONCASTER man has turned Time Team detective to unearth a possible Roman road – just a spear's throw away from where he plays golf.

Geoff Halstead was inspired to make a detailed search for the stretch of road dating from the Roman occupation of Doncaster – then known as Danum – after reading articles in a local history magazine.

The Bessacarr resident has been a long-standing
member of Doncaster Golf Club on Bawtry Road, and knew of a club legend that such a road ran across the site of the golf course at a spot known as Warren Wood.

Two of the club's holes used to be positioned near the wood but were abandoned when the course was redesigned after the M18 motorway cut through it in the 1970s.

Although there were no records of a Roman road crossing the golf course, Mr Halstead decided to have a closer look and found a substantial bank lined with trees that reminded him of the 'aggers' described in Geoff and June Bennetts' local history magazine, The Cantley and Bessacarr Journal.

With their help, and with images from Google Earth, Mr Halstead and the Bennetts were able to use a row of trees as a marker to show it was directly in line with a route stretching to an old Roman fort on the banks of the River Torne near Rossington.

Mr Halstead said: "Years and years ago I can remember Maurice Birkett, a former professional at the club, referring to a Roman road and he said a certain bank was the remains of it.

"It was only when I looked for it that I realised the agger was there across one of the old fairways.

"I thought Geoff and June had not mentioned this in their research so I mentioned it to them when I bumped into them at the local library.

"They were very interested and we researched it together. Although it had been known about before I am pleased it has been rediscovered and brought to the attention of the wider public, although there's not much to see of the road now."

Mr Bennett said they had previously established that part of Bawtry Road was part of the course of the main Roman Military Road to Doncaster.

"A Roman road usually consists of a raised bank with a ditch on either side. Once the road goes out of use and is no longer maintained, the ditches fill up with soil over the years.

"If Geoff Halstead's bank is actually the remains of a Roman agger then the trees have probably grown along the lines of the two ditches."

The Bennetts and Mr Halstead are hoping archaeologists who have been mapping the nearby Manor Farm site will also take a closer look at Warren Wood after project manager Paula Ware confirmed she also believed it was a Roman bank.


South Yorkshire Archaeology Day (Review)

Yesterdays SYAD was yet again a brilliant event.  The venue was again the Showroom Theatre but due to the event selling out after only a few weeks, the lectures may need to be moved to a larger venue for next year.  This is excellent news as the popularity shows that history and archaeology in our area is getting more popular.

The lectures this year were all good quality and were on a wide range of subects ranging from Iron Age settlements around the local area to the Victorian steel making core of Sheffield city.

Excavation of an Iron Age to Early Medieval landscape at Pastures Road, Mexborough by Alistair Webb.
This talk was on the 2005-7 excavations and field study on this soon to be redeveloped site.  The finds included Mesolithic flints, a beehive quern, round house, tracks and a field system with multi period use.  There was also evidence of an Anglo-Saxon burial although due to the acidity of the soil no skeleton was recovered, there may be more on-site and further work may find these.

O'er Hill and Down Dale by Adrian Chadwick.
This talk was a reinterpretation of past studies of field systems in the South Yorkshire area and grouping past reports together to help interpret a wider picture of what life was like in this area in the early part of the first millennium. He described the damage done at Sutton Common when half the site was bull-dozed by the farmer and how opportunities were missed on the excavation and what possibilities of future work could reveal. He also described how the brickwork field systems had been modified over many centuries and how the later Roman roads didn't respect the field boundaries.

The Medieval Archaeology of Low Fishergate, Doncaster by Jane McCormish.
This lecture centres on a multi-period reuse of a site which was originally to the immediate south of the river Don.  it focused on how industry on the site had changed over time with the silting up of the river as its path had slowly moved northwards.  The early industries seem to have been focused on ship building or repairs which slowly through time had transgressed through to an iron works which possibly burnt down and was replaced by leather works and a rubbish tip!    There was plenty of evidence of medieval boats which had been reused as a wall against the riverbank as well as evidence of the Don flooding on at least two occasions.

Investingating an Industrial Archaeological site at Nursery Street, Sheffield by Neil Dransfield.

With the current flood defence plan for the river Don to prevent another flooding of 2007 proportions several areas of previous land use are being removed to allow small flood plains for water catchment.  part of the old steelworks and public house on Nursery Street are to be removed and the land scalloped with the remains of the furnace to be reburied for future generations.

Excavations at Rotherham Minster by Deborah Moretti
With part of the minster grounds being re-landscaped for easier access excavations took place where 60 burials were discovered from the 19th century (42 adults/11 infants/7 children) Several of the bodies had been badly damaged by later grave cuts which had been placed in the same plots. Finds from the corner were a Henry II short cross penny, an area of cobbles and several worked flints.  Evidence of wooden graves and shroud burials were found as well as buttons marble bottle tops and clay pipes.

Work In Progress: Re-evaluating the Archaeology of Conisbrough Castle by Kevin Booth
With the current re-evaluation of Conisbrough Castle via the Lottery fund English Heritage had planned on using the past excavations on site to help draw up a plan for future works.  This has been severely hampered by the Ministry of Work's lack of care in the 1940's and 50's and failure to keep accurate records and lack of reports from most of the 25 excavations carried out by the MoW and other parties. Finds from the site were not recorded accurately as to show there location (a central part of a horse curry comb, metal rim from a purse and a mirror case).  EH have also looked at the design of the castle and its unusual layout which is only comparable with Orford, Suffolk. English Heritage are planning some excavations in the near future (possibly 2011)

The Bolsterstone Castle Project by Wendy Goodhind and Tim Cockrell
This was a fascinating update from the group who initially set out to find if there was a castle at Bolsterstone.  There task was hard with the only evidence being a pub name and an old map marking the site.  The group managed to get a grant and assistance from the University of Sheffield to start an excavation on the football field in 2006, they managed to locate a stone wall with steps which led to further work in 2007.  This located a bread oven but no castle.  In 2008/9 the group excavated a smithy and in 2010 field walked the land on Bank Farm locating metal and ceramics.  The groups future plans include a wide scale test pitting in the village in an attempt to locate earlier settlement.

Excavations at Monk Bretton Priory by Hugh Willmott and Pete Townend
The priory at Monk Bretton was heavily rebuilt during the 1920's removing parts of the old medieval house and further work during the 1950's by the MoW saw the 'cleaning' up of the site with no regard for its post monastic heritage.  Geophysics on the site located two areas of interest for locating a Tudor Manor comparable with Worksop or other contemporary sites. one of the results showed a building range which when excavated showed three phases of occupation which appears to have been used for some industrial process possibly relating to the priory and also a stone encased drainage ditch with two phases of use.  Lots of lead and copper alloy were recovered from smelting.  Tudor glass was also recovered from the site.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Sheffield Flood Talk Review

Monday’s meeting was a great success, Peter Machan’s talk on Sheffield’s 1864 flood was a magnificent performance given in full Victorian style. His talk started with him acting as the reporter who first got the story out in the papers the day after the dyke gave way. The talk showed the weaknesses of the design of the dam and how the crack developed before the structural integrity failed, recalled stories printed at the time of peoples mixed fortunes of either being swept away of miraculous escapes from the clutches of the wall of water and also the results of the inquiry which followed. The talk also has a visual show of photographs, drawings and illustrations to help bring to life this tragedy which drowned 238 people from several villages along the Loxley Valley and through the steel heartland of Sheffield’s industrial zone.

Two reminders for the rest of the week ahead:

Saturday 20th November Sheffield Archaeology Day at the Showroom in Sheffield
Monday 22nd November Committee meeting 19.30 at Oldcotes Village Hall

Friday, 12 November 2010

Roche Abbey/Mexborough/Next meeting/Spam

This weeks BBC History magazine e-mail contains a link for Roche Abbey: http://www.bbchistorymagazine.com/visit/roche-abbey-yorkshire?utm_source=Adestra&utm_medium=email&utm_term=&utm_content=&utm_campaign=History%2012%2F11%2F10  The way it describes the monks eviction seems quite polite!

Mexborough's now decommissioned fire station got a mention in yesterdays Yorkshire Post.  The story recounts how the stations plaque has been saved for posterity and donated to the Fire and Police Museum in Sheffield  http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/localnews/Slice-of-fire-service-history.6622896.jp

Don't forget next weeks meeting is on Monday at 19.30 and recounts the story of one of Sheffield's greatest tragedies when the Dale Dyke dam burst flooding thousands of acres of land and drowning many people and livestock 

Lastly, apologies for anyone who's received a spam e-mail from my personal e-mail address, seems some dodgy people have hacked my account! I've reported it so hopefully you won't receive any more.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Community Archaeology - Knaith & Collingham Riverside Surveys

Community Archaeology will be doing two surveys along the river Trent this month:

The first is around Knaith on the 15th November and the second around Collingham on 30th November.  

For further details get in touch with them via e-mail at community.archaeology@nottscc.gov.uk, phone 0115 977 2160 or via the website at http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/home/environment/heritage/archaeology/communityarchaeology.htm

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Remembrance Day

Don't forget it's Remembrance Day tomorrow and several events will be going off throughout the area.  Check your local paper/website for details.

I'll be at Aston on Sunday to remember my great granddad and his brother who both perished in World War I. My granddad was a miner and also a lookout on the top of the tower at Laughton-en-le-Morthen church reporting on Axis bomb locations if they failed to go off. 


Monday, 8 November 2010

Worksop Library Family History Group

Worksop Library's Family History Group, which meets in the new library 4 - 6pm on the last Thurs of every month, is attracting really good numbers of people, many of whom are complete beginners in family history needing guidance in how to get started/using the library's resources including Ancestry (free access from library computers).
The group is currently run by a couple of volunteers who are enjoying helping people with family history research but would be keen to welcome any new volunteers who are experienced in family history and would like to lend a hand in helping others.

It's entirely voluntary, and the library make clear to people that the volunteers cannot do someone's entire family tree for them (just as library staff can't), but will offer guidance and support so that people can learn how to trace their own family trees.

If you're an experienced family history researcher and are interested in helping out with the group, please call the library on 01909 535353 or e-mail helen.fox@nottscc.gov.uk:

Next group meetings:
Thursday 25th Nov 16.00-18.00
Thursday 16th Dec 16.00-18.00
(dates back to normal - last Thurs of month - in New Year)

A bumper chance to explain enigma of the lump From the Yorkshire Post

Many thanks to Terry (Regina Theresa) for finding this for us from the Yorkshire Post, I've e-mailed Community Archaeology for further details:
FOR centuries an inconspicuous bump in the ground has lain, unexplained, in the depths of Sherwood Forest.
But now, archaeologists from across the country are hoping to shed light on what could be one of the region's most mysterious – and most significant – ancient monuments.

Three years ago the Forestry Commission revealed that the Friends of Thynghowe group had found a Viking meeting place – known as a "Thing" – in the Birklands, near Worksop.

Such sites, of which there are only a handful in the British Isles, are thought to have been used in the Dark Ages as a landmark where people came together to resolve disputes.

Andrew Norman, from the Forestry Commission, which manages the Birklands, said: "What was once just a bump in the ground has now got lots of people excited up and down the country."

The earthen mound known as Thynghowe, which was first noticed on 19th century maps and then later identified through trawling the woodland landscape, has now been listed on English Heritage's National Monument Record.

New studies have also found the name Thynghowe in an ancient Sherwood Forest book dated to around the 1200s. However, more research is needed to understand the site's mysterious story.

As a result, Nottinghamshire County Council's community archaeology team is set to carry out a topographical survey of the hill in the New Year, after the Friends of Thynghowe made a successful bid for council funding.

At the same time, University College London plans to undertake a magnetometry survey, which can detect buried archaeology by registering anomalies in the earth's magnetic field.

The academics became involved after hearing about the Sherwood Forest site at a conference on Viking sites in Shetland and Orkney earlier this year, which was attended by representatives from the Friends of Thynghowe group.

Mr Norman added: "This is a major effort to unravel more of its secrets."

Thynghowe was discovered five years ago by husband and wife team Lynda Mallett and Stuart Reddish, along with their friend John Wood, who all live in the village of Rainworth.

Ms Mallett said: "My husband and myself own a woodland in Sherwood Forest. A 19th century document came into our hands which described a walk around Sherwood Forest, taking people around a very important boundary.

"We transcribed it and realised this went through our wood and all the way through Birklands as well. We asked the Forestry Commission if we could then go into Birklands and find anything mentioned in this 1816 document,

"One of the most significant places was a place called Hanger Hill, which is described as having two boundary stones and a stone on it. There were also apparently quite a lot of celebrations which took place there.

"When we did our research, having found this place in and amongst all of the trees, we realised Hanger Hill was also a place called Thynghowe, which is a Viking assembly site."

It is thought that Thynghowe may have marked the boundary between the Anglo Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Northumberland. However, it may date back much further, as "howe" is a term often used to indicate a prehistoric burial place.

Ms Mallett said Thynghowe could date back 4,000 years – which would make it one of the most important sites not only in the region, but in Britain. She said: "It's a highly, highly significant place in Sherwood Forest and a national rarity.

"There are other 'Things' in Britain, but most of them you can't find a written record of. In this case we've found a written record dating back to the 1200s.

"Also, most 'Things' you can't actually see, because they've been built over or they're on private property. With ours, you can actually stand on it and look around and see some of the landscape that was there way, way back in the past."

To shed light on Thynghowe's history, archaeologists are set to arrive in January and analyse mysterious ancient stones in the area, which could be part of the complex or even predate it.

Ms Mallet said: "We need to bring this to national attention and find out as much as we can about this site.

"The more we can find out about it, the more chance we have of making it a scheduled monument, which gives it the highest level protection that we can get.

"We want to make sure local people know all about it. If this site has 4,000 years of history, there certainly isn't another site in Sherwood Forest as significant as this – and everyone in the world has heard of Sherwood Forest.

"To have a site in Sherwood Forest that is of this age, and that is still here, is really quite amazing."

The Friends of Thynghowe website is located at http://www.thynghowe.org.uk/index.html

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Battle of Worksop Skull now at Wakefield

Great! now that the Battle of Worksop is coming up to its 550th anniversary and I'm trying to get as many people interested as possible, someone's decided it would be a great idea to send our skull to Wakefield for their exhibition!

I suppose the only good thing to come out of this is more people may become aware of the skirmish but what about the people around here? Do we deserve to just give up our history quite as easily?

Not only have we had the indignity a few years ago of loosing the museum in Worksop but we now have lost one of our only glimpses into our medieval past too (Although there is a debate on it's age but that's not the important issue)!

If you want to see the skull it's in Wakefield Castle.  Fellow Battle of Worksop fan Helen Cox has written a blog about her visit http://helencox-herstorywriting.co.uk/#/blognews/4539783941

Friday, 5 November 2010

Community History Workshops at Worksop Library

Wednesday 8th December
10.00 - 11.30 / 13.30 - 15.00

Come along and find out how to add your own photos, documents and memories of the local area to our new Community History Website Our Nottinghamshire.

Please bring along your old photos/documents (e.g. your memories) to scan (or ideally ready saved on a memory stick) and we'll show you how to add them to the website.  In connection with the BBC Turn Back Time programme, focusing on the old High Street, we are especially interested in gathering information/memories/photos of old shops in the local area (can be anywhere in Nottinghamshire)

Places on the workshops are free, but are limited to a maximum of 8 people per session and will be allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis.  Booking essential: to book your place please call the library on 01909 535353 or email helen.fox@nottscc.gov.uk

Community Archaeology - Nottinghamshire 2011

Update from Community over their 2011 projects:

 Much of our funding over the next few years will focus on the ‘Trent Vale’ area.  This includes riverside parishes and communities along the Trent, from Newark to Gainsborough.  For those of you who were able to attend the Time Travel Trent Vale event in the summer at Newark Castle, this was the official launch of the project. 

We will still be doing projects when they arise across the rest of the county, but this is where our focus will be for the next two years.  We have included here some background to the project, and some information on what will be happening as part of it.   We hope you find it interesting, and that you see something that you would like to get involved in.

We are still looking for project ideas and suggestions, both in Trent Vale and the rest of Nottinghamshire, so please send them in!

Trent Vale goes live!

The River Trent in the Trent Vale, once an integral part of life for those living on its banks, is now often hidden from view and difficult to visit.  Trentside communities have, in many places, become disconnected from this natural feature that has influenced where and how they and their ancestors lived.  Industry, agriculture and canalisation have all made their mark, and what we see as the river now is a very different picture to what people would have seen even a few hundred years ago.

Trent Vale focuses on the riverside communities of the Lower Trent Valley , between Newark and Gainsborough, in both Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire .  It has been awarded money from the Heritage Lottery Fund, to be spent on a wide range of projects and schemes over the next few years.

Projects include (amongst others):
  • Riverside Audit – to map and record archaeological features on the riverbank; including everything from ruined barges to clapper gates.  We are looking for volunteers for this project NOW!  So please let us know if you want to be involved.
  • Roman Roadsides and River Crossings – this is an extensive fieldwalking project that will be looking to shed light on Roman settlement in the Trent Vale.  There are a number of well-known sites in the area, but relatively little is known.  The fieldwalking will take place either side of Roman roads, and aims to provide a good body of evidence to help us to understand the pattern of settlement in the area.
  • Archaeology Clubs – We will be running a series of archaeology clubs for children, at locations across the Trent Vale area, during school holidays.  Children will get the opportunity to try all sorts of activities based on the archaeology and history of the river.
  • Workshops, talks and guided walks – It’s not just children that get to have fun with Trent Vale!  We will be putting on workshops, talks, and guided walks around the area for people of all ages to get stuck in to. 
  • Excavations – there are a number of excavation opportunities over the next few years.  Watch this space!
  • Graveyard Surveys - Some of you have already joined us on the 'Graveyard Shift', to record the information and condition of gravestones in various churchyards.  We intend to start looking at churchyards in the Trent Vale area, so there will be plenty more opportunities for you to come along and take part.  All welcome, from green beginners to hardened veterans.
How To Get Involved

If you are reading this you are already on our general email list, in which case you will receive regular news updates and information.  If you have an interest in any projects in particular, or have questions or suggestions, please get in touch.

Everyone is welcome to join in, and because the range of projects is so wide we should be able to find something for everyone, of all ages and abilities.  Join us for a day, a season, or longer!  No experience is necessary and training will be provided.

Trent Vale involves a lot of partner organisations, so by expressing an interest in our projects we can also link you up with projects run by our partners; such as conservation opportunities with the Wildlife Trust.

Check out the following website for more information.....
This is the best place to keep up to date with what's been happening in Trent Vale.

Many thanks for taking the time to read this rather epic mail. 
All the best

The Community Archaeologists

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

42, King Street, Thorne up for Georgian Award

A once dilapidated house in Thorne, near Doncaster, has been shortlisted for the Georgian Group Architectural Awards.  The ex-Merchants house is one of four nominated for the 'Restoration of a Georgian Building in an Urban Setting'award which will be announced today by Baroness Andrews.  http://www.georgiangroup.org.uk/docs/awards/index.php

The building was purchased in 2005 by the South Yorkshire Building Preservation Trust (Ltd) and restored from a boarded up wreck to what looks like a very beautiful building.

Hopefully this beautiful building will win the award as very few buildings from the 'north' have been nominated for an ward.


Nottinghamshire YMCA has launched ‘A Century of Youth’ – a new film project exploring the lives of young people in the East Midlands over the past 100 years.

Combining archive footage and new interviews, it will be led by 16 young people who need your help!

Anyone with footage which could help tell this exciting story is asked to get in touch with the project team. If you have old cans of film, VHS tapes or photographs that offer an insight into growing up in the East Midlands at any point over the last century, they want to hear from you.

Nottinghamshire YMCA is working with the Media Archive of Central England to safely view and transfer relevant archive footage into digital formats, so your footage is in safe hands. Footage can either be returned to you or can be placed into safe storage and preserved for future generations to enjoy.

The young people from across the East Midlands will be led by professional film makers, who will guide them through the process of planning, filming, editing, marketing and distributing their film creations.

Over 100 people of all ages and backgrounds will share their memories and experiences of their youth for the film, which will be screened in several cinemas across the region.

If you have a hidden treasure, please call Rebecca Lawson or Thomas Hall at Nottinghamshire YMCA’s Film and Video Department on 0115 855 3365 or email film@nottsymca.org

This project has been enabled by EM Media and the UK Film Council’s Digital Film Archive Fund supported by the National Lottery.

Comments from Rebecca Lawson, Film Production Manager:

“We’re really hoping to uncover some hidden film gems, and are looking forward to seeing what people have stored away in the attic.”

“Old films and even VHS tapes are at risk of being lost forever unless they are stored correctly and copies are made. I would really urge people to dig out any footage that might be of interest and give us a call so that we can preserve this precious footage for future generations

War Memorial Desecration

I heard on Hallam FM this morning that one of the plaques of Denaby Main's war memorial has been stolen. The plaque which covered one side of the memorial has been taken leaving a unsightly gap that will probably take thousands of pounds to replace. With Remembrance Day being only days away it would be impossible to fix in time. I'm guessing the local inhabitants are outraged by this mindless desecration and hopefully these ignorant people who have taken it will return it to the community.

So not only are our churches being ripped apart by these money grabbing scum but now our countries brave heroes who died for our freedom are no longer respected. I'm not sure which names have gone but a complete list of the names on the memorial is available at http://joseflocke.co.uk/heritage/memorial.htm

If you have any information relating to this burglary please phone the local Safer Neighbourhood Team on 01302 385178 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Flags, Robbers and Murder!!!

Nottinghamshire is going to get its own official county flag it was reported by the BBC today, three designs will be put forward for the public's approval at the end of the year by the council.

The council have also been slated by not publicising Robin Hood enough it emerged on the "This is Nottingham" website. Why this has been brought up is not clear especially after Robin Hood week which marked the release of the film. (To be honest,and this is my own personal opinion and nothing to do with the group but the council wastes way too much time on this fictional character and not enough on its real history)

A new book called ' Murders In and Around Derbyshire' by Scott Lomax has been released by True Crime (ISBN). The book contains 13 unsolved murders during the 20th century ranging from 1908 to 1982. This fascinating book for all mystery and history fans also carries the story of Samuel Fell-Wilson who was gunned down near Church Warsop in 1930. Further details are available at: http://sclomax.co.uk/unsolvedmurders.htm