Old water mill found on moors

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A WATER mill which is thought to date back more than 500 years has been found on the edge of a Yorkshire national park by amateur archaeologists.

The remains of the mill have been unearthed on Yearsley Moor, near Helmsley on the edge of the North York Moors National Park, and the discovery has been heralded as a “highly significant and important find” for the area. A large number of finds have been recovered including pottery, bone, corroded metal, an undated coin, glass and some puzzling stone objects.

The discovery comes after three years of research by Yearsley Moor Archaeological Project volunteers and North York Moors National Park Authority apprentices under the supervision of professional archaeologist Luigi Signorelli.

The team is being funded by the Lime and Ice Project, which has been awarded a grant of just under £500,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and will run until next year. They have found the remains of buildings in the undergrowth, with one containing a large millstone.

The outline of nearby ponds and watercourses that may have served the mill have also been discovered. The Lime and Ice Project’s officer, Jennifer Smith, said: “At first, we did not expect to do any excavating at all but we felt it was necessary to find out more. So the volunteers did a small area and came over what they believe to be a mill.”

There is no mention of a mill in archaeological records and no sign of one on the earliest Ordnance Survey maps produced in the 1850s.

But scant documentary evidence does show a mill was sold by William Wyldon of Yearsley to the Fairfaxes of Gilling in 1560.

In 1720, records also mention a mill, but its exact location was not disclosed.

The archaeologists has also investigated Bronze Age burial mounds, “bell pit” coal mines, ancient track ways and two ornamental temple sites.