Holcombe Moor Heritage Group

Local History on the edge of the West Pennine Moors

HMHG logo

The site of Bottoms "Mill" in 2014

After a successful 2013, where we were blessed with wonderful weather on almost every dig, and some great finds - we decided to do it all over again in 2014.


After all, it's not everyday you discover a Medieval iron working site. Plus there is a chance there could be something earlier near by. AND we still don't know what the "Mill" building was used for before it was cottages.


What will we find? What have we found? And what is the weather like? Findout all this and more in Neil's 2014 Dig Diary below.  

March 2014

Site was looking a bit the worse for wear after winter but by the end of Saturday was cleaned up and was looking amazing. A 5m site grid was surveyed in and marked out. We then started the process of recording

what had been excavated the year before and by the end of the weekend most of the planning had been completed and some sections had been done too.



This weekend the planning was completed and more section drawing was done. A 1m extension to the drain trench was opened and the top soil was removed. The excavated area was levelled in to our temporary bench mark sited on the footbridge to the south of the site.



Due to the possibility of having to move the spoil to

the south end of the site in order to open up further

excavation areas, it was decided to open up some test pits at the south. Test pit one was placed near the stream to test whether there was any archaeology at the extreme south east of the site. As suspected this revealed just an area of river washed gravel which had built up over the years. A few small finds came out of the test pit which had been washed down from the main site. This test pit was

recorded, located on the site plan and closed down.


Test pit two was put over the "garden" wall to test the quality of the structure and was then extended to expose the rest of the wall to the west. It was found that to the south of the wall that there may be a yard surface but as the trench was constantly filling with water due to the heavy rain that weekend, it was decided not to investigate further at this time.


Test pit three was placed over the stream bank to test whether archaeology was present. To our surprise a stone feature was found but due to the weather work was stopped and the dig cancelled.


These test pits have shown that there is indeed

archaeology to the south of the site and that moving the spoil down there at the moment is not an option,

therefore our main push for next month will be the main site to the North.



Thursday Dig

An excellent day during which the baulk was removed from the east side of the site over the hearth area. This consisted of removal of the turf and topsoil, then the removal of the demolition rubble down onto the flagged surface. Various small finds were made including two pot marbles, a lovely pot handle and a lovely carved bone handle from perhaps a knife, ( link to the Ashworth

Cutlers perhaps! ) The area was then recorded and the two flags that were in danger of going over into the stream were removed for safety.



Another excellent days digging despite early rain

hampering the recording process. The extension to the drain trench was cleaned up and the top soil removed. This revealed a rough stone surface which is an earlier layer to the flagged surface. Removal of the top soil and demolition rubble over the east wall and entrance to the eastern wing. Various small finds again. More recording took place recording the newly uncovered flagged floor and wall. Some section recording was started of the south facing wall in the eastern wing.



Lovely fine day so more recording done. Section drawing started on Saturday was completed as was the complete east wall plan. The big lift was started of the flags over the "hearth" area and trowelling commenced. Some small finds were revealed including clay pipe stems and a bowl. It was also decided to open a strip along the back wall of the buildings. This was placed to determine the width and construction of the wall in relation to the pond dam. Towards the end of the day a new feature started to lurk from the shadows which may have huge

implications as to the use of the building!!!!!!


If you want to know more,

join us for our 2015 digs!

March Clean after winter (640x427) dig 1 March The new drain running NS (640x478) March The uneven surface of the middle building (6 S dig 2 June Cleaning up the surface (640x478) June Bone Handle (640x478) June All ready for the big lift (640x478) dig 2014 3 dig 2014 6

A round up of 2014's Activity on site by Neil:


It has been a great year for the archaeology at Bottoms in Holcombe Valley.


We started off the year in March by cleaning the site of all the winter rubbish and surveying in a 5m grid over the site. This enabled us to locate everything accurately. Once the grid was surveyed in we started the recording of everything that had been excavated in 2013.


Excavations took place at the South end of the building to fully expose two drains, 1 running North South and 1 running East West. The demolition rubble that had been left on the East side of the site was also removed and revealed some lovely small finds including pot marbles, lots of sherds of pot and a carved bone handle to name but a few.


Recording was constantly carried out, recording what had been excavated and these drawings were put together to show the overall plan of the site as excavated.


Excavations also took place at the North of the building where the pond bank came down onto the rear of the building. A trench was put in to test the thickness of the rear wall and the construction techniques, only to reveal a large stone feature running north into the bank. The trench was extended and the stone feature grew and grew. Further work will be carried out this year on this feature in an attempt to understand its function and relationship to the building. One fantastic find during the excavation of this feature was a 1797 Cartwheel Penny, this being found in a sealed context has given us an earliest date for the alterations to the bank.


Work was started on the slag deposit just South of the front wall of the building. This was slow work due to a number of rough stone surfaces that had to be recorded and then removed. Underneath the final stone cobble surface we came onto the slag and loam itself. This was removed and we came down onto a sandy layer on which we found three sherds of Medieval Gritty Ware pottery.


Also seen in the sandy layer was a circular negative feature. Our hopes were raised when we found the feature, thinking we had our hearth that we were looking for, but when examined, was found to contain a mix of  late pottery as well as another sherd of medieval! Therefore we must assume the feature is a later intrusion through the layers for what reason we don’t know yet. There are some features in the sand layer that require further thought and investigation so this year we will possibly be extending the area in the search for more answers.


We have been visited by a number of professional archaeologists / specialists and they have all been very impressed by both the archaeology and by the way we are conducting the project and full credit for this must go to the team of diggers, recorders and historians who have spent a lot of time and energy making this years dig the success it has been.


I would just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the project for all their hard work and effort and they should all be very proud of what they have achieved.


And on a final note, the dig this year will be run weekly on a Thursday, as well as the monthly weekend dig.


So if anyone wants to get involved this year just let us know.

DSCF1018 (640x478) IMG_1061 IMG_0867 (640x575) DSCF1030 (640x478)