We finished working on the track bed on Saturday though the site has been left open for a couple of days so that local people can share our discoveries.
Over the weekend attention turned to the footprint of a building which is shown on the 1850s Ordnance Survey map of the area. It’s situated near to the junction of the main waggonway route with one of it’s may branch lines. Naturally the assumption was that the building was something to do with the waggonway but no one was precisely sure what. An archaeological investigation seemed in order.
I guess that the first thing to say is that the structure was bigger that most of us had thought it would be. There were traces of a few stones visible on the surface before we started and they gave the impression of a small hut but as it turned out the building was much bigger. There’s also more of it surviving below ground level than might be expected. I’d thought we’d only have to go down a few centimetres before we found a floor surface but this was not the case. There was at least half a metre of material to go through before anything which looked like a natural soil level was encountered.
Given these circumstances it was only possible to look at one corner of the building in detail. Recovering the whole of the floor plan will have to wait for another day. Two test pits were put down into the interior of the structure. This revealed a series of interleave layers of burnt material in which were found a large number of iron objects including bolts and what might be a section of rail from the waggonway. It seems therefore that the building might have been a smithy where people were engaged on making repairs to the waggonway but further work would be need to confirm this.
The site is now covered over again and all that remains to be done is to produce a report on the work of the past few days. After its completion it will be available as a pdf from this site – hopefully in a couple of weeks
Finally I would like to offer my thinks once again to the children of Silkstone Common School and Silkstone Primary and to the members of the Roggins Local History Group who all worked very hard over the four days. If these blogs have whetted your appetite for the history of the waggonway you can find out more by clicking on the link below.