April 2011 - An archaeological and historical study of the shell grotto in Widerness Back, Skipton. The Project is undertaken by the Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group under the direction of Susan Wrathmell, BA, MA, IHBC on behalf of the Friends of the Wilderness (a local voluntary body undertaking maintenance and restoration, supported by Skipton Town Council).
Tuesday, 12 April 2011
1. Monday 11th April 2011
The day dawned cloudy and threatening, but at least this was better conditions for getting a 'before' photo of the site, our 2 previous attempts were thwarted by bright sunlight casting 'orrible shadows across the feature.
Today Sue Wrathmell (site director) Ruth Spencer, Roger Pyrah and Alan Williams started the work of cleaning the feature. Sue and Roger painstakingly removing the moss from the shells embedded into the surface while Ruth and Alan cleaned the structural masonry to discover the extent of the construction. After an hour or so the threatened rain appeared, not heavy but still wet, making the walk to the spoil heap along the slippery beck side path rather exciting.
David Johnson visited the site in the late afternoon giving valuable advice on how to draw the structure (well, it is a bit kiln shaped!) and looking in detail at the surface render in which the shells are set – cement and the mortar between the stones – lime mortar: useful information to assist with the dating. Work finished around 17:30. a productive first day. Tomorrow it is hoped to discover whether the structure has a paved/cobbled floor and to draw plans and sections