Reports on 2009 Activities
The following reports give a flavour of what took place in 2009; see what you may have missed!
On Wednesday 23rd September, Dr Mary Carrick (who had previously given a spirited lecture on Meaux Abbey on the previous Friday) accompanied Members to Beverley Minster, where they were given a guided tour by one of the resident Guides; he was most informative, and his use of a torch was very helpful!
A look around the outside of The Friary - which is now a Youth Hostel - revealed a mixture of brick and stone plus more recent restorations.
Lunch for some at The Tea Cosy Cafe was very pleasant - especially as at this point it was a touch chilly...
The main event of the day was a visit the site of Meaux Abbey. We saw a lot of bumps and humps spread over a wide area; generally the hollows were walls, and the bumps were floors. We also saw the remains of the abbey mill; in more recent times this has been used as a farm house and farm outbuilding, and is now in a somewhat precarious state. This was where we disturbed a barn owl!
Members took a keen interest in mole hills and rabbit holes in which several fragments of tile were found.
It was a most enjoyable day and gave more meaning to the previous lecture; the plans were really useful, and Mary Carrick's tour was first-rate.
Susan Hall and Pat Donnor
The evening of Wednesday 15th July cleared bright and warm in time for our visit to Pickering Castle. Peter Bleach opened the Castle late for us and gave us a very clear exposition of its building and history.
The site was first used during the Harrying of the North - although it is possible that the earliest Castle was on Beacon Hill, eight hundred metres to the West - and remains in Royal hands, being part of the Duchy of Lancaster. It is a rare example of a motte with two semi-circular baileys and survived as a functioning Castle and the head of the Honour of Pickering until Hugh Cholmeley removed most of the timber and some of the stone to reinforce Scarborough during the Civil War. A brief siege by Parliamentary forces showed that Cholmeley was correct in his assessment that it would not be defensible but Tom Fairfax's similar assessment means that it was not slighted, so that much stonework survives still.
Visit to Hungate, York
Visits to Foulbridge Manor and Dalby Forest
The morning of 28th May 2009 saw 21 Members visit Foulbridge Manor; Mrs Jill Nutt gave us a warm welcome, and a detailed description of her family's restoration of the medieval hall. The trees from which the Knights Templar Hall at Foulbridge were built were felled in 1288, and it is thought that the Hall was built between 1288 and 1290.
Click on the pictures to enlarge them
The Hall, encased within two farmhouses, consists of eight timber posts supporting elements of the roof structure; joints in the posts show that there were aisles on either side. The stone-built west wall is probably partly original, and includes a large Tudor fireplace.
In the afternoon, 17 members proceeded to Dalby Forest, where they were met by Brian Walker who is the Wildlife and Conservation officer for the Forestry Commission. Various ditches and earthworks were located and described, together with the remains of 'rabbit types' - stone-lined pits where warreners would trap the animals, principally for their fur for the felt industry.
A wooden tunnel or 'muce' would cross the pit, and allow free access to a walled enclosure inside which rabbit food would have been supplied as bait. Once sufficient rabbits were regularly visiting the type, the wedge supporting the hinged floor of the muce would be removed, and visiting rabbits would fall into the pit!
Our grateful thanks go to Jill Nutt and Brian Walker for disseminating their expert knowledge to us!
On Easter Monday, 19 Members of the Society visited Green Sykes, Robsonís Spring and Ness Great Woods courtesy of the landlords and the Woodland Trust. Helmsley Castle had two deer parks: the western one adjacent to the castle, and the eastern deer park downstream on the Rye on the old south road. The modern road south runs a mile west of the woods. We were hoping to find evidence of medieval deer park management, especially the park pale, which would have consisted of an internal ditch and an associated high bank (curved on the outside and vertical on the inside so that deer could jump in, but not out).
There was disappointingly little to see as large machinery has been driven down the rides, and extensive ditches cut and culverts inserted within the woods and on their boundaries. The low banks could be ancient or relatively recent. The extra wide ride between Green Sykes and Robsonís Spring wood has been reduced by planting, and the ditch has a low mound on either side. See photo.
Click on the pictures to enlarge them
The curved (which is an indication of great age) eastern boundary of Green Sykes has a multi-species hedge (another indication of great age) on a low bank, but no ditch. There are old oaks in the adjoining field; these oaks could be the remains of tree pasture or former woodland. See photo.
Archaeology was difficult to discern but there was an abundance of ancient
oaks, flora and a heronry for the Members to view.
Rievaulx Great Gate
David Johnson's presentation on the Rievaulx Great Gate (minus the technical gremlins of Friday, 17th April, 2009!) can be seen here (it's 16Mb - so you may need to be patient...).
John Collier Collection
Thursday 26th March 2009 saw a meeting at the National Park Office at which a selection of John Collier images were displayed as prints, and as a slide-show. Approximately forty local residents attended, many of whom brought their own old Helmsley photographs for scanning, and adding to the collection.