Nidderdale excavations reveal secrets of Iron Age farming

New archaeological excavations have unearthed evidence of farming dating back to before the Romano-British period in Nidderdale.

The Our Farm Heritage team in action in Nidderdale. Picture by Rob Light.

Previously unrecorded features have been identified through field surveys using GPS technology at 15 farms and excavations at three sites, Blayshaw Gill, Knott’s Gill and Colt Plain.

The earliest ancient farming site was found to be around 2,000-years-old and evidence recovered from hearths and storage pits included different forms of wheat and barley, natural resources such as hazelnuts and the remains of coppiced wood.

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The discoveries were made through the Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership’s Our Farm Heritage project, an initiative funded by the Heritage Lottery.

Bob Barker, secretary of Iron-Age (Nidderdale), a local archaeology group that worked on the project with experts from Solstice Heritage, said: “The findings show there might be a continuity of farming at sites in Nidderdale that lasted for hundreds of years. It’s a very important discovery. It puts something concrete into that black hole of history – what happened in Nidderdale during the Roman period.”

Paved floors and walls of houses were excavated suggesting farmers then did not live a hovel existence, pieces of rock art were found carved nearby and two pieces of Romano-British pottery were unearthed.

Jim Brightman, a partner at Solstice Heritage LLP, said: “We hope that what we have learned will contribute to our understanding of similar sites across the Pennines and the North.”