Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Upon our Return to Grange Farm in Stalmine, and the Misadventures that Happened Therein

With the Bodkin Hall excavation under our belts (where it added to the spare tyre created by the bacon butties and lemon cake) on Sunday the twelfth of October 2008 Chris Clayton, Carlo Ricco, Dave Hampson, John Davies-Allen and myself returned to the site of our previous disaster investigation, that being the manmade platform at Grange Farm, Stalmine, suspected habitat of the lesser-spotted Furness Abbey monastic millers during the 12th and 13th centuries.

Our first job was to reopen the corner of, and extend southwards and eastwards, Test Pit 004 Extension 002, backfilled and heavily manured by the Grange Farm bovines over the previous few weeks. The corner took some considerable time to locate, the bright yellow marker peg with its tail of pink string eventually being located beneath one particularly copious pat and now being used as a launch pad by a swarm of striped, flying, savage-looking insects that bore an uncanny resemblance to a family of chavs from Chatsworth Avenue on their annual day out.
Test Pit 004 Extension 003 was accordingly opened, and soon produced a couple of interesting pottery fragments. (Well…I say interesting. The average Coronation Street fan probably wouldn’t hold much chuck with them, but we’re not the average Coronation Street fan, and we’re assuming that the readers of this board aren’t either, so we’ll continue with their appraisal regardless.)

The first of these fragments can be seen in the scan on the left hand side of the composite image above. We suspect that it originally came from a Ballarmine Jug, similar to the one on the right. These chunky, somewhat character-filled, ‘works of art’ date circa the 16th and 17th centuries. Some of them were rather on the large size (which ours obviously was) measuring up to 20 inches or so (in old money) in height.
Of course, we could be wrong. We’re not pottery experts so don’t quote us on that. But you never know.

The other fragment (discovered lying on the surface of our suspected clay floor) is pictured below next to a similar (although not exactly the same) looking fragment that we dug up on Bourne Hill a couple of years ago.

The Bourne Hill fragment was independently dated by the boffins at Lancaster University to the 12th century and even though the new fragment is considerably coarser, there are enough similarities to suggest that this might have been kitchenware from roughly the same period.
We hope.

Because that would give us the correct date for our floor.

Moving on, we also uncovered a number of postholes in Test Pit 004 Extension 003, which we drew up on a scale diagram before adding in the previous scale diagrams of Test Pit 004 Extension 002 and Test Pit 004 itself. (We didn’t bother drawing up Test Pit 004 Extension 001 because there was bugger all in it. I probably should have drawn it up regardless, on reflection, but not to worry.)

The more observant amongst our reader…s will probably have noticed that the postholes aren’t forming any sort of recognisable pattern. Unless our mediaeval mill was trumpet shaped, extremely thin and/or resembled a waste disposal chute that ended in a point, then what we’re probably looking at here at the remains of posts holding up a raised wooden floor.
Or possibly rabbit burrows, made by extremely lethargic rabbits with conical heads.

One last photograph for now before calling it a day then:


Anonymous said...

"One last photograph for now before calling it a day then:"

Elephant Chains? Sounds very suspicious.

"Some of them were rather on the large size (which ours obviously was) measuring up to 20 inches or so (in old money) in height."

These weren't the jugs you were referring to on my blog were they?

Andrew said...

Thank goodness the smelly cheese is finished with and we back in the dirt.

Jayne said...

Feral Queen was just introduced to your blog and quite enjoyed it.
I, on the other hand, am still waiting for Stewart to pop up with his surveying gear to argue with John's geophys results :P

Bwca said...

the shape of the post arrangement would not be peculiar for a pier.
Is that a river through the trees?

and 'geofizz' dear Jayne - fess up you've been watching TeamTime.

Brian Hughes said...


I'm not allowed to mention jugs again over at your place. Cath seems to get upset by 'em. Good job I didn't do the Mrs Slocambe joke really.


It's the same cows that produce both though.


We don't need Stewart for geophys...we've got Danielle, and she does it all proper like and doesn't just make it up as she goes along.


The pier theory would explain all the charcoal we've been finding up there. I wonder if Joey Blower ever owned this corner of Stalmine...

Anonymous said...

Kath has no jurisdiction over my blog; say what you like (unless, of course, you're arguing that Tennant should replace Gordon Brown as PM).

Brian Hughes said...


I usually do say what I like (such as it is), but I wouldn't want to upset Cath. I'm sure if you stripped away the lack of irony, the militant feminism, and the judgemental chip on her shoulder (possibly a full potato in her case) that obscures her vision, she'd be a perfectly pleasant person. As soon as she settles down with a good old-fashioned bloke she'll be right as ninepence.

Anonymous said...

Mind your words...if you value your gonads. She has ears everywhere.

Brian Hughes said...

Not down there, she doesn't.

Anonymous said...

By the way, if you want to see a Robbert look-alike in action, go to and see the post about 'privatisation of Melbourne's public transport'. There's this bastard called Phillip Travers (a troll) who tries to inflict GBH on me. See the comments.

Maybe you can play Elephant Chains with 'em.

Brian Hughes said...


I've seen quite enough people like Robbert for one lifetime, thanks. He isn't big, he isn't clever, and I'm decided for the sake of the reputation of Wyre Archaeology to steer clear of any further websites that don't delete his bigotted rantings immediately.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough.

Brian Hughes said...

Ahem...that's the flu talking. In reality I'm plotting the little weasle's downfall...working on the assumption that he doesn't destroy himself first, of course.

John said...

I need to reread earlier posts, but are we assuming from the pottery fragment that the clay floor was created prior to 1200?

As for the post holes, maybe more excavation will reveal a more recognizable pattern. Extrapolation at this point may not be easy. Also, are you assuming that all the post holes belonged to posts that worked together?

To clarify, are all the post holes the same width, depth, and age, and even if so, perhaps some of the post holes supported a structure, while others supported equipment or furniture? I'm not sure if I'm making myself clear, here... anyhoo, don't give up yet. There's still a mystery here!

I'm glad you brought up the cow pats... us lay folk, apart from watching indiana Jones, have no idea of the struggles and challenges that face you brave archeologists. I tip my hat to you brave souls who risk life and limb and comfort in order to restore to us our rightful history.

Thank you all, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


"are we assuming from the pottery fragment that the clay floor was created prior to 1200?"

At the moment, we can't really assume anything because we haven't have the fragment analysed yet. The clay floor should, however, date to an earlier (although not by much...possibly a matter of ten minutes or so) period than the fragment does.

"To clarify, are all the post holes the same width, depth, and age..."

They appear to be. Further more, they appear to be the same age as the clay floor itself, because we haven't found evidence of them in the stratigraphy above it, if that makes any sense. But who knows? This is a devilishly tricky little site.

"I tip my hat to you brave souls who risk life and limb..."

You've tried those Marmite flavoured rice cakes as well then?

Anonymous said...

Your flu sounds too pacifist.

Brian Hughes said...

Reuben...don't be misled. It's more of a fifth columnist.

Anonymous said...

Oh...right you are.