The Swaledale Big Dig is a two-year community project organised by the Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Archaeology Group (SWAAG) to help dales folk search for clues to medieval and ancient history in their own back yards. It has received funding of £76,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and is supported by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. The project was launched in March 2014 by Dr Carenza Lewis, and will run to the end of 2015.
Activity will be confined to the beginning of the upper dale, in and around the neighbouring villages of Reeth, Fremington and Grinton, an area rich in archaeological remains extending back to the Bronze Age, and in permanent occupation since then. Archaeologists will work with residents who volunteer to have meter-square test pits dug on their own property. Residents will also be able to choose from a range of short courses being organised as part of the project’s commitment to stimulate wider interest and engagement in archaeology. Test pits will also be dug on public land, and local schools are getting involved. It is hoped that the project will provide enough snapshots broadly to create a better understanding of the ages and development of the settlement areas, and perhaps to answer some notable specific questions, such as why Reeth has such a large village green or market place.
SWAAG’s normal lively programme of activity continues undiminished alongside the Big Dig project. Next on the agenda is a two-week dig starting 22 September 2014 at a site to be announced mid-summer. See the web site for details – www.swaag.org.
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