Over the years, the CBA East Midlands group has enjoyed a wide range of archaeological trips, visits, conferences and
other activities. Some recent events include:
Council for British Archaeology — East Midlands Group: Archaeology for all
Charity No. 1082287
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Visit to Lawrence Field, Bole Hill Quarry & Millstone Edge, Derbyshire (April 2011)
Saturday 16th April was bright, with no sign of rain or wind. We duly assembled at the appointed car park (with a
short delay to feed cards, not coins, into the 21st-century ticket machine), before setting off down the deep hollow
way documented as ‘Milne Stone Gate’ (i.e. road) in 1714. After viewing a small quarry with a
dozen scattered millstones, we headed off to examine the spectacular stacks of stones, ready
for transport by a made trackway on the edge of Bole Hill Quarry. They became redundant when
synthetic stones and roller milling were introduced in the early 20th century, but were left in
place when the quarry was extended in 1902—10 to provide the stone for the dams on the
Derwent and Howden reservoirs.
Hathersage is documented as having 13 millstone makers in the township in 1590, each producing 12 pairs of stones a
year. The stone was also made into troughs and gateposts, as well as flat-edged discs for grindstones and crushing-
stones in the lead-working and other industries.
Looking carefully at some stones, it was evident that they were only partially made, like this
one in Lawrence Field: the central hole and uppermost surface had been dressed, but the sides
were only partially finished. It seems likely that its maker had only completed this upper side.
Below Mother Cap we searched for the scattered examples of mushroom shaped millstones
with one flat grinding surface and a domed top. They had been abandoned, propped for
dressing and not quite finished, perhaps because a flaw had developed. They are thought to
have been the earliest form of millstone made hereabouts, dying out in the 18th century when
finer imported stones where used for milling flour.
As the bracken had not yet emerged, we were able to examine the pair of boat-shaped
buildings on Lawrence Field, where excavations in 1959 produced flat querns and medieval
pottery. The buildings lie at the edge of a large enclosure, with parts of its line defined by
orthostats set on edge (left). Amongst the thick heather inside the enclosure, we were able to
trace some of the narrow banks and piles of stones that are interpreted as the clearance from
adjacent strips once used for agriculture.
Visit to Ellys Manor House, Great Ponton, Lincolnshire (July 2011)
An excellent and informative day was enjoyed by 30 CBA members and non-members. Clive Taylor and his wife own
Ellys Manor House and offered an extensive tour of the unusual ‘two up, two down’ manor, mostly dating from the
15th century. There were some beautiful medieval wall paintings which
are currently awaiting conservation, hence the tours of the private house
in order to raise funds. We also inspected the church with its oustanding
masonry, in particular its unique bespectacled gargoyle, said to reflect
one of the Ellys brothers who had poor eyesight.
The tour was linked into a historical and architectural background of the Northern Renaissance, bringing together
Flemish art with the stories of the wool merchants and their bling or
swagger. The building archaeologists were inundanted with questions from
the owners asking for interpretation of various features, including a star
within a triangle — the most enlightened among us suggested a
stonemason with a penchant for starfish!
If you missed this trip, appointments to view the house can be made by arrangement www.ellysmanorhouse.com.
Ellys Manor House, Dallygate, Great Ponton, Lincolnshire NG33 5DP.
Industrial Archaeology Day at Masson Mills, Derbyshire (March 2012)
The 2012 spring meeting and AGM was held in Matlock Bath at
Masson Mills, a cotton mill built in 1783 by Sir Richard Arkwright.
The mill now survives as a working textile museum, conference
centre and shopping village.
We started off with two lectures, the first by Professor Marilyn Palmer on the East Midlands’ place at the forefront of
the cotton industry, and the second by Dr Barrie Trinder on how census returns can help to illuminate the people who
lived and worked in the buildings we study. After lunch, Dr John Barnatt recounted his excavations of the ruined
engine houses of three Derbyshire lead mines, and how documentary research can help to explain what’s in the
The afternoon was rounded off by a rapid tour of the museum. Extensive work has been undertaken by the small
team of staff to bring the cotton industry to life for the museum’s visitors, and we were all left impressed by the
facts and figures involved.
Made with Xara Web Designer
Council for British Archaeology
The Past Beneath Your Feet: Archaeology and History in Leicestershire (Leicester, January 2013)
CBA East Midlands joined archaeologists and historians from Leicestershire and beyond for a day of events for all the
family. These included talks by well-known archaeologists, hands-on
activities, historical re-enactments, exhibits, and a chance to find
out what a range of local and national organisations get up to.
People were able to bring their own finds along to learn more about
them — and of course they were given the latest news about the
University's search for Richard III.
Food, Glorious Food: Great Ponton, Lincolnshire (March 2013)
More than 30 of us braved the snow to hear all about the history of food and people’s eating
habits. Daryl Garton explained how the earliest hunters used flint tools to skin hares,
Shirley Walsh introduced us to the delights of the Roman kitchen, and Mark Dawson
examined everyday dining habits in post-medieval Derbyshire.
Lunch was a key part of the event — we were able to sample Shirley’s apple cake and garlic
cheese, both made to Roman recipes.
Visit to Nassington Prebendal Manor and Tithe Barn Museum, Northamptonshire (June 2012)
In a joint event with CBA South Midlands, we visited the medieval Prebendal Manor with its stunning recreated
gardens at Nassington, Northamptonshire. The manor’s owner, Jane Baile, started the day by taking us on a tour of
the village, before providing us with lunch back at the museum.
We split into two groups in the afternoon for a tour of the house and the garden. Jane led us
round the house, which is Grade I listed and is the oldest surviving dwelling in the county. It
was great to hear about the house’s history from someone who knows it so intimately, having
restored much of it. The fascinating tour of the gardens was led by Mike Brown, their designer,
who also showed us round the 16th-century dovecot. To round off the day, we crossed over the
road to look round the Anglo-Saxon church that lies opposite, which boasts a collection of
medieval wall paintings among its many attractions.
Exploring the Church of St Mary
and All Saints with its medieval
Mike Brown explains the layout
of the recreated medieval