The Brodsworth Archaeology Project

Late prehistoric enclosure ditch at Marr under excavation

The Brodsworth Archaeology Project is a landscape archaeology project centred on the Brodsworth Estate in South Yorkshire. The focus of the Estate is Brodsworth Hall which is owned and run by English Heritage. However it is the Estate land and the surrounding area which is the focus of this Project, not the Hall. The area of the Estate, as well as the land belonging to other neighbouring estates, has not been extensively built on, nor has it been directly affected by significant amounts of quarrying or coal mining and so archaeological remains survive here and are accessible. Previous archaeological research has already shown that remains survive from prehistory to the present day. Consequently this is a landscape that provides us with a rare chance in South Yorkshire to investigate human activity over the last 3,000 years.

In particular the Project is focussing on some significant periods of change in the landscape´s development:

  1. The development of the late prehistoric/Romano-British settlement pattern of the area. This area is one of dispersed farmsteads in the Iron Age and this continues as dispersed settlement into the Roman Period even though the area is near to the Roman town of Danum (modern Doncaster). This is a settlement pattern almost completely without villas. We are investigating the development of this settlement pattern to further our understanding of the character of the Romano-British settlement and economy of the East Midlands and Yorkshire. This will throw light on the lack of villas and will offer an opportunity to look at the breakdown of this settlement pattern at the end of the Roman Period. In particular during 2008 we will be investigating a site which has produced high quality Romano-British material from fieldwalking. We will be covering this area with a geophysical survey and undertaking some sample excavation.

Recording historic architectural features at Brosdworth

  1. We are also looking at the origins of the medieval villages in this area. The details of the transition from the dispersed Romano-British settlement which appears to break down in the fifth century to the villages we know are established by the eleventh or twelfth centuries are almost completely unknown in this area. Fortunately we have a number of villages in the area which are either completely deserted or have moved or are reduced in population. The project is working within and around these villages to investigate their origins and development. We have begun with work on the villages of Brodsworth and Bilham and we are now expanding the a programme of work to tackle the deserted medieval villages of Wildthorpe and Scawsby and the ‘moved’ villages of Hickleton, Hooton Pagnell and Marr.
  2. The third major focus of the Project is to look at the transition to the formal, designed landscapes around Brodsworth, Cusworth, Hickleton, Hooton Pagnall and High Melton Halls in the Post-Medieval Period which involved the depopulation or the moving of many of the villages. Obviously this had a profound effect on the landscape of the area and the project will be investigating and documenting that change. In 2008 we will undertake further work on the parkland and gardens of Brodsworth and Hickleton Halls and will begin a preliminary programme of work around Cusworth Hall.

Archaeology welcomes workers of all ages

  1. South Yorkshire has also seen a profound change in its economic base and landscape in the last 30 years, moving from heavy industries to services. The rapid erasure of the visible remains of mining, quarrying and manufacturing in this area is shocking and we are involved in investigating and recording this move to a post-industrial landscape. We will continue work to record and investigate the evidence of historic quarrying in the area of Brodsworth, Hampole and Hooton Pagnell.

Visitors to the cemetery excavation at Brodsworth

This is a large project involving a wide range of techniques and bringing together a great diversity of participants. During the fieldschool you will have the opportunity to gain experience of techniques such as excavation, geophysical survey, fieldwalking and post-excavation processing. The project brings together people of all ages and backgrounds. Not only do university students from Britain and abroad take part, but also local school children and other members of the local community. We also have the help of many members of local archaeological societies and many other groups. We have had participants ranging from under 8 to over 80 in age and from many countries including Australia, Canada, Slovakia, Ireland, Denmark, Italy, Czech Republic, U.S.A., Germany, as well of course from all over the U.K.