Whirlow's Iron Age heritage shown in geophysics results. Photo: Archaeological Research Services

Whirlow Hall Farm is a working farm on the western edge of Sheffield. Every year over 10,000 children visit it from inner city areas to learn about various aspects of agriculture. But on 19th July archaeological excavations began, marking the culmination of a community-orientated survey project carried out through spring and summer by local volunteers led by Archaeological Research Services.

A comprehensive field walking survey turned up an assemblage of over 1,000 artefacts, including flint tools ranging from the Mesolithic to the Bronze Age, and even evidence for Late Medieval manuring.

Yet the geophysical survey has caught the most attention. The results clearly show a rectangular ditched enclosure with opposing entrances to the east and west. It is believed to be Iron Age in date, and will form the focus of the excavation.

Karl Taylor of Archaeological Research Services said, ‘This discovery pushes back farming at Whirlow by at least 2,000 years and will provide new information on the early history of Sheffield‘. As no farming settlements of this date have been found elsewhere within the city, this discovery could be highly significant.

Volunteers fieldwalking for signs of Whirlow Farm's past. Photo: Archaeological Research Services

The excavations begin during the Council for British Archaeology’s ‘Festival of British Archaeology’ and are certainly in the spirit of the event. Dorne Coggins, a volunteer said, ‘The project has given me a wonderful chance to experience a wide range of archaeological activities… and I can’t wait to take part in the excavation‘.

The project will allow the Whirlow Hall Farm Trust to branch out, using the findings to create a programme of walks, talks, and a heritage trail. Jessika Sheppy of Archaeological Research Services hopes that these activities ‘will enable visitors and school groups to appreciate the history and importance of the site for many years to come‘.

– Jonathan Hutchings

 

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