Medieval Castles of West Yorkshire: an illustrated talk

Sandal Castle, West Yorkshire, UK

Date: July 25th 2018

Venue: Rothwell Community Hub, Marsh Street, Rothwell, Leeds, LS26 0AE

Start Time: 19.30

Cost: £4 (£2 for SLA members)

Castle Hill Almondbury (West Yorkshire UK)

It comes as a surprise to many that there are over a dozen medieval castles in West Yorkshire. These range from the small earthwork castle at Sowerby to the impressive royal castle at Pontefract. The earliest were created soon after the Norman Conquest of England. Many only lasted for a few decades but the magnificent keeps of Pontefract and Sandal were only finally demolished during the English Civil War. This fully illustrated talk looks at the history, form and function of West Yorkshires castles as well as examining their place in the landscape of the county.



Midsummer Meander: A history walk in the grounds of Temple Newsam

Date: 21st June 2018

Time: 19.00

Starting Point: The Stable Courtyard, Temple Newsam, Leeds

Cast: £3.00 (Concession available to members of South Leeds Archaeology)

Sphinx Gate Temple Newsam

Temple Newsam House is a prominent landmark in the Leeds City Landscape. This evening walk explores the history and archaeology of it’s extensive parkland. We will talk about the development of the house and grounds, the deserted medieval village of Colton and the prehistory of the area.

The walk is moderately easy, though there are a couple of stiles and some hills to negotiate. The pace will be easy and the whole walk should last no longer than two hours.

Visitor information about Temple Newsam can be found by going to  the Leeds City Council website.

Can a 17th century account of a witchcraft trial solves the mystery of Grim’s Ditch?

The mystery of Grim’s Ditch

The embankment f Grim’s Ditch as it runs along the eastern edge of Temple Newsam Estate.

Grim’s Ditch is a prehistoric earthwork which runs roughly north/south along the eastern end of the Temple Newsam Estate (Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK). On the early Ordnance Survey maps it seems to peter out just south of the village of Scholes near Barwick in Elmet. This would seem to make no sense it terms of either a boundary or defensive line. Therefore, people have theorized where it might go from there.  Some people argue that it might, for instance, turn west and follow the line of that part of the Cock Beck known as the Grim’s Dyke.  Others have argued that it might turn east and join up with Dark Lane at Barwick to lose itself in what used to be marshy ground around Potterton Beck. I’ve always argued that it went more or less due north, thus linking the Wharfe and the Aire. Two rivers and a connecting ditch would seem to me to make a very sturdy boundary indeed.


The Fairfax Demonologia

It was while reading the Demonologia by Edward Fairfax that I came across what might potentially be considered to be proof of my theory.  The Demonologia is an early 17th century work in which Fairfax describes how his children claim they were being bewitched by a number of local women. Fairfax seems to accept this claim without question and, when the affair came to trial at York, he was clearly surprised to find the case dismissed. The account of his journey from York to his home at Fewston (North Yorkshire, UK) is quite detailed. When the travellers get near to the village of Collingham he describes:


a bank, which is cast up there for a great space together, (the remains, as I take it, of the intrenchment of the rebels in that place encamped 12th Elizabeth)

 Willian Grainge who edited the work says that Fairfax is referring to the Rising of the North in 1569 but says of the rebels that we were not aware that they threw up any entrenchments here. Neither am I.


An ironic parallel

I’d suggest that what Fairfax saw (and misinterpreted) was not an Elizabethan entrenchment but the Northern termination of Grim’s Ditch where it ran into the River Wharfe. If so, there would be an irony in this since Thomas Fairfax, the civil war general and a relative of Edward’s, has given his name to a prehistoric earthwork on the St Ives Estate and Bingley.

Of course, it’s an issue not capable of poof. The Collingham earthwork, whatever it was, is long gone and, as far as I know, this is the only reference to it. But for what it’s worth, the idea that it was Grim’s Ditch seems right to me.


Introduction to Community Based Archaeology

Venue: Rothwell Community Hub, Marsh Street, Rothwell, Leeds, LS26 0AE

Dates: Every Tuesday, 17 April – 15 May

Time: 19.30 – 21.00

Cost: £60

Members of South Leeds Archaeology at work on a Community Archaeology Project

Have you ever wanted to try your hand at archaeology and not known where to start? If so, this 5-week course is for you. The aim is to take people with an interest in the subject through the basics of archaeology so that they can feel confident to volunteer for work on a Community Archaeology Project. Tuition will be given by Mike Turpin, Dave Weldrake and other members of South Leeds Archaeology.

Topics will include:

  • Finds are an important part of any excavation. These are fragments of clay tobacco pipes, probably from the 1800s. There’s little that can be said about the pieces of stem but it might be possible to date the bowls as some of them appear to have the manufacturer’s initials incorporated into the design.

    Researching a project: Archives, online resources, map regression

  • Carrying out recording fieldwork: Project design, excavation, field walking
  • Post-excavation: analysing the finds, writing reports

A full course outline is available on the South Leeds Archaeology website at

For further information or to book a place contact:

Mike Turpin


web page:

Rock Art: the problems of interpreting the unknowable.

Venue: Knowle Club, 17 Knowl Rd, Mirfield, WF14 8DQ

Date: 6th March 2018

Time: 8.00 – 9.30

This talk is being given to the Wheelwright Archaeological Society by Dave Weldrake.

Barmishaw Stone, Ilkley Moor

Rock Art is a subject which has been much studied in recent years. Yet no satisfactory answer has been found to the most obvious question: What were they used for? This talk considers the carved stones of Ilkley Moor and explains the problems which stand in the way of interpreting their significance.



Roman Castleford: An illustrated talk

Roman soldiers: Frieze by Harry Malkin

Date: 6th March 2018

Roman Castleford: An illustrated talk: 2.00

Venue: Castleford Library

Castleford was a major urban centre in Roman times. It developed from a small military installation guarding the crossing of the River Aire into a bustling industrial town. Over the years archaeologists have uncovered many fascinating objects which throw light on the lives of ordinary people in the past. Come along to the talk to find out more about Castleford’s rich archaeological heritage.



History of Pudsey and District

A new Monday morning Heritage course for the WEA

Pudsey Railway Heritage

Venue: Pudsey Wellbeing Centre, Robin Lane Pudsey, LS28 7BR

Dates: 15/01/18 – 26/03/2018

Time: 10.00 – 12.00

Cost: £70

This course explores the development of Pudsey and the surrounding area. Most of the sessions will be indoors but two guided walks/site visits are also envisaged (if weather permits).

Topics will include:

The region in Prehistoric and Roman times: prehistoric trackways, Roman roads, prehistoric monuments Roman settlement in the locality

Anglo-Saxon and Domesday Pudsey – place name evidence, the British Kingdome of Elmet, effects of the Norman Conquest

Medieval Pudsey– place name evidence, documentary sources, field systems, modern map evidence

Tudors and Stuarts – effects of the dissolution of the Monasteries, development of gentry classes, Tudor/Jacobean housing boom

Church and chapel; rise of non-conformity, Waterloo Churches, role of churches in social life

Transport networks- pack horse routes, turnpikes, railways

Victorian and early 20th century Pudsey – agriculture and industry, development of commuting

For further details or to enrol online follow this link  to the WEA website.