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YORKSHIRE’S HIDDEN HERITAGE REVEALED

Beneath our feet and hidden away in nooks and crannies of Britain’s towns and cities,  there is still a treasure trove of ancient wonders to be found–we’ve learned that from important finds in recent years such as the Staffordshire Hoard, and, of course, King Richard III’s grave in Leicester. Even more recently there have been some interesting historical places, including medieval roads, hermitages, castles and town walls, re-discovered in Yorkshire and gaining new interest from the public. Some were/are hiding in clear site, with the local towns growing up and over them. Others  lay in the countryside, hidden away on estates or covered by foliage.

One site  of particular interest is Common Hall Lane in York, which runs alongside the 14th c Guildhall, a place Richard would have known well. Both the hall and the medieval lane were constructed over the site of the Roman road that runs through York.  In later times, the lane was closed off and now lies behind a locked wooden door which is on the water level. Being so near the river, it apparently  floods often. The Guildhall is undergoing restoration at present and it is hoped that when the work is complete, Common Hall Lane will be re-opened as well.

Another site that has received recent attention is the medieval Hermitage that lies under the old Pontefract General Infirmary.  A series of chambers run underground, containing  a 72 step staircase, the hermit’s bed, bench, and fireplace, a well supposedly filled with magical, curative water and  a macabre carved skeleton, representing death, who holds up a spear. At present, there is no general access to the cave…but there are occasional open days arranged by the custodians.

Scarborough Town Walls have also recently been added in to heritage walking tours of the area.  These walls were in fact raised on the orders of Richard in 1484, replacing older structures,. Only one section still remains–near a car park. A blue plaque commemorates Richard’s renewal of the town’s defences; the King also renovated the castle at the same time.

HIDDENHERITAGE–LINK TO LIST OF SITES

Guildhall,_YorkYork Guildhall–with the door to Common Hall Lane visible

WALL

Plaque to King Richard’s Wall in Scarborough

 

 

‘I saw something shining…’ Metal Detecting Finds..

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The Staffordshire Hoard.  One of the biggest hoard of Anglo Saxon artefacts every discovered.  See more of this hoard below..

A story has broken of four ‘metal detectorists’ who have been convicted of stealing a hoard of Anglo-Saxon coins and jewellery worth 3 million pounds, most of which is, tragically, still missing.  You can tell from the pictures of the stuff that has been recovered the quality of the still missing items, which now may never be recovered,  after probably being sold on the black market.

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A gold ring dating back to the reign of King Alfred the Great

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A crystal rock pendant chased in gold  dating back to the 5th century

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Gold arm bangle with a dragon or serpents head design dating from the 9th century..

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A gold coin from the reign of King Alfred the Great..

Just before this story broke I was intending to write a story about metal detectorists that have made some wonderful discoveries and have done the right thing handing them over,  also being paid quite handsome sums.  I list some of these discoveries below.    Although I have had to mention the fact that a small handful of people wielding metal detectors have behaved despicably, for which they will now being paying the price –  long prison sentences –  the majority of finds are declared most of which would have lain undiscovered if not for metal detectorists.  So I say as long as they behave honourable and do not disturb places of historical importance then long may they continue to find beautiful items of great historical interest.

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Medieval garnet and turquoise ring circa 1250-1450.  Found at Barnham Broom, Norfolk.

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The Escrick Ring.  900-1100 AD -Viking.  Only the second time a use of a sapphire has been recorded in England (1)  Found in 2009 and  now in the Yorkshire Museum.

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The famous Middleham Jewel.  Gold with a sapphire.  Dated between 1475 and 1499.  Discovered in 1985 near Middleham Castle.  Now at the York Museum.  

 

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A gold 15th century hat pin found inches below the surface of a newly ploughed Lincolnshire field.  

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Seventeen Medieval coins.  A Welsh find.

image.pngSword Pommel.  Bedale Hoard.  Late 9th to 10 Century.  One of 48 items.  Now in the Yorkshire Museum.

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Gold Brooch – two hands clasped together, note the decorative sleeves.  Only the size of a pound coin.  Found in a field in Cheshire.  Circa 1350.  Thought to be a betrothal gift.  

image.pngA fitting from hilt of a Seax (a large single bladed knife) – one of the items from the Staffordshire Hoard  discovered in 2009 in a field near Lichfield and the largest collection of Anglo Saxon Gold and silver to be ever discovered.image.png

A helmet from the Staffordshire Hoard and fit for a King..image.png

The helmet has been reconstructed as it was  badly damaged before it was buried.

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A mystery object from the Hoard that has left archaeologists  baffled.    Suggestions have been the lid of a container, an extension of a helmet, a saddle fitting?

And so its clear that metal detectorists are a valuable asset in recovering lost treasures frequently  alerting archaelogists to a site and further finds that would have remained undiscovered.  How many more finds are out there awaiting the intrepid metal detector to discover them?  Bring it on!

 

  1. Online article.  University of York.  The first earliest example of a sapphire being used in jewellery in England was 5th century Roman.

 

Music and Metal Detecting

Here is an interview by our own Ian Churchward (The Legendary Ten Seconds) about their new song: A song for a metal detectorist, covering  history and metal detecting …

{link to 27 March}

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