Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Further Misadventures of the Grange Farm Excavation…

Before we get on to the August 31st excavation, it’s worth including perhaps a quotation from George L. Bolton’s ‘Clayton in History (The Story of Clayton-le-Woods)’: “In 1697, during the period when the Molyneux family were lords of the manor, John Calderbank purchased the lease of “All that watercorne mill and one kill commonly called Clayton Mill and Kill” for £30 with an annual rent of eight shillings. The “kill” was the grain drying kiln which usually accompanied a corn mill.”
Yes, you’re right. That’s got nothing to do with Grange farm, the platform we’re supposed to be excavating or even north Lancashire to be honest. And the fact that Clayton happens to be Chris’s second name is purely coincidental. However, in one of our past articles about Grange Farm (or somewhere similar) we mentioned Keldbreckwell, which, all matters considered, was probably the well mentioned on old maps as standing just northwest of the Grange Farm platform.
You’ve forgotten which well we’re talking about, haven’t you? Fair enough, here’s a map that we’ve drawn up based on the 1840’s Ordnance Survey to jog your memory:


Leaving aside all of our previously suggested interpretations involving keeills and St. Kilda and stuff (and taking into account the linguistic gymnastics of the Over Wyre accent) the name might simply mean ‘the well belonging to the ‘kill’ or ‘grain drying kiln’ on the breck.’ Obviously we’re not going to gamble any of Wyre Archaeology’s coffers on that, but we reckon it was worth a mention anyway.
Right, back to the Grange Farm platform excavation journal then. On August 31st 2008 Chris Clayton, Dave Hampson, John Allen, Barbara Culshaw Philips and myself (please note, that’s five out of a society of thirty-odd members…the same five who’ve turned up every week for the past few months…I’m seriously starting to wonder whether there’s something the rest of them aren’t telling us…possibly a far more exciting excavation going down in Hambleton or something) extended the already previously extended Test Pit 004 to the east.


If you look closely at the photograph above you might be able to see that we’d put up both the gazebos that morning, and tied them together with rope to stop them blowing away. That’s because this summer appears to have been the wettest since Noah looked up at the sky and muttered: “It’s starting to drizzle…wish I’d brought me brolly.” The Grange Farm platform in particular has to be the most rained on plot of archaeological ground in Stalmine we reckon since Wyre Archaeology records began…two months ago.
Anyhow, regardless of the fact that, if it carries on like this, in a few months we’ll be conducting our excavations from a dinghy, we soon discovered our usual clay floor (complete with a smattering of flat-faced stones lying in it) this time with a couple of square postholes and another depression in the surface, similar to the one we found about a metre to the west.
No…I’m not putting the drawing of the original depression up again. If you can’t remember it, you’ll just have to search backwards through these postings. Instead, here’s the latest work of art (‘Impressions of Test Pit 004 Extension 002 in Black and White’ by B. Hughes of the Dadaist School of Scribble):



Whilst the rest of the team were tidying up the pit, John (formerly known as J.D. but for personal reasons now identified as John) was digging his way to the earth’s core through a rabbit burrow one and half metres to the east. Interestingly (well…interestingly to me at any rate) the ground around the burrow consisted of soil laid on sand, not a smudge of yellow clay in sight. So, presumably, the edge of our floor should lie somewhere between our extension to Test Pit 004 and John’s now-considerably-larger-than-once-it-was rabbit burrow entrance.


This is either good news or bad news depending on what we dig up in the next trench. If the edge of the clay floor turns out to be straight, containing postholes, cobbles, lime mortar and/or bricks, then we’ve definitely found the westerly extent of the watermill building.
On the other hand, if it isn’t straight but rather wobbly and all over the place, with no sign of an edge to it, or a wall or postholes etc…then we’ve been completely wasting our time for the last couple of months.
Place your bets now folks. Honest Hughes bookmakers -- Chances of having buggered up good and proper: 16 to 1 against.

10 comments:

RVB said...

That’s because this summer appears to have been the wettest since Noah looked up at the sky and muttered: “It’s starting to drizzle…wish I’d brought me brolly.”

How damn lucky you are you even have rain! Australia is drier than a vacuum-sealed bone.

On the other hand, if it isn’t straight but rather wobbly and all over the place, with no sign of an edge to it, or a wall or potholes etc…then we’ve been completely wasting our time for the last couple of months.

The best way to stabilise things is through totalitarianism, Brian.

Andrew said...

It is all about instinct isn't it? I'll put my money on your instinct. Btw, it is interesting to learn about something I have no interest in.

John said...

For the record, I remember the darn well, whose identity remains a well speculated mystery.

As for the rest, why do you always leave us in suspense? If perhaps 20 of those 30 WA members would get some trowels, you'd make a lot more progress I bet. Okay, 1 to prepare the tea, and 19 to trowel, but still...

My bets are on you. The post holes are a good indicator that there's more here than clay. if only the rabbits could talk!

Brian Hughes said...

"How damn lucky you are you even have rain!"

A case of the grass is always greener, Reuben...at least it would be if we could find it under all the water.

"The best way to stabilise things is through totalitarianism."

Especially tea-totalitarianism where a tyranical des-tea-pot banishes all the alcohol abusers to the marshes.

Brian Hughes said...

"...if only the rabbits could talk!"

If the rabbits round here are anything by which to judge, John, it'd all be filthy language.

Brian Hughes said...

Andrew,

Interestingly enough I find it interesting that you're finding it interesting to take an interest in something you'd otherwise have no interest in...as the banker said to the actress.

Jayne said...

But the big question remains....did you find our missing Prime Minister, Harold Holt?
Or even a sniff of Lord Lucan in that rabbit burrow?!

Brian Hughes said...

Jayne,

We find traces of Lord Lucan most places we excavate...usually in the form of cow pats.

Jayne said...

Ahhh, now the true origins of Mad Cow disease makes itself known.

Brian Hughes said...

No, the true origin of Mad Cow Disease is seeing how angry the woman over the road can get if we push her...