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CBA Community Archaeology trainee leads WWI project in Yorkshire Dales National Park

Open day held on Saturday 21st June 2014, at excavations in Giggleswick

The 'Training and Trenches' project

James Spry is currently nearing the end of a one-year CBA professional training placement in community archaeology, hosted by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA). In March of this year James was awarded £7,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund through the First World War Then and Now programme to deliver a community engagement project in the National Park. 

The project focuses on three First World War sites: the Castleberg Drill Hall in Settle; a rifle range at the foot of Attermire Scar; and a pair of suspected training trenches in the grounds of the Giggleswick School Estate. The project began by analysing historical sources to determine what record exists of the three sites under examination and the people who may have used them; it then moved to surveying the rifle range, drill hall and putative training trenches; and culminated in June with a targeted excavation of the earthworks at Giggleswick. 

Castleberg Drill Hall, Settle

Constructed in 1864, the Castleberg Drill Hall provides an example of the importance of military training amongst Dales communities in the years before the First World War. Drill halls were built throughout the country to aid the training of newly formed local Volunteer Forces, following an increased investment in local military training. Survey of the site, undertaken by members of the public and Dales Volunteers, has added to understanding of the construction and historic use of the building. Participants also learned new skills and were co-creators in this increased knowledge. 

Castleberg Drill Hall, Settle

The interior of Castleberg Drill Hall, Settle

Attermire Rifle Range

Documentary research has revealed that 30 volunteers were signed up in 1854 to form a new Volunteers Rifle Corps in Settle and the Attermire range was set up for shooting practice shortly after in 1860. The volunteers were transferred into the Territorial Army in 1908 and continued to use the range up until the First World War. It was subsequently used by the local Home Guard during the Second World War. Historical research has been undertaken at a number of locations as part of the project and James has been supported by a research assistant from the National Park's MOSAIC project, which aims to help people from black and minority ethnic groups.

Attermire Rifle Range

Attermire Rifle Range, Settle

Practice trenches, Giggleswick

A week-long excavation was carried out in partnership with the Ingleborough Archaeology Group on the putative practice trenches at Giggleswick. In total, either directly excavating or attending a site visit, around 250 people engaged with the excavation over the six days; this included Giggleswick Primary School students, Giggleswick Junior School students, the Yorkshire Dales Young Archaeologists' Club, the Yorkshire Dales Young Rangers, members of YDNPA staff, other CBA staff and trainees, staff from several local museums, and other members of the general public. This was supported by education activities on site delivered by re-enactors from the Leeds Royal Armouries.   

Members of the Yorkshire Dales branch of the Young Archaeologists' Club excavating at Giggleswick

Members of the Yorkshire Dales branch of the Young Archaeologists' Club excavating at Giggleswick


James will be sharing the results of the project as part of the Festival of Archaeology with a talk at Craven Museum and Gallery, Skipton, on 22nd July 2014. A full report is forthcoming.

For more information about the project contact:

Craven Museum and Gallery in Skipton event

Home Front Legacy

The CBA is working with English Heritage and partners across the UK to support local communities identify and map remains of the First World War. The Home Front Legacy project provides an online toolkit and guidance for recording the remains of surviving sites, structures and buildings.

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