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Archaeologists return to Iron Age settlement near Tebay

Jan Hicks and Graham Hooley of Lunesdale Archaeology Society during last year’s visit to the dig by Orton CE School children.

Members of the Lunesdale Archaeology Society (LAS) and a team of volunteers and experts will be returning to an Iron Age settlement in the Lune Gorge at the end of May, searching for evidence of occupation that coincides with the nearby Roman fort.

LAS was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to investigate the pre-historic site at High Carlingill back in 2017 and spent two weeks digging on the site last year. The investigations have continued and are already revealing something of the lives of ordinary people but findings so far have also raised new questions.

“Last year, we found evidence of round buildings, including flagstone floors,” says Jan Hicks, one of the local LAS members involved in organising the dig. “We’re never going to find leather, wood or textiles on this site as the soil is very acidic but we’re hoping to add metal and maybe even ceramic finds to last year’s whetstones, quern stones, charcoal and walls.”

“Since last year’s dig, we’ve been able to date our findings and we now know that the site was occupied in 200 BC, long before the Romans arrived, and in 500 AD, after they’d left. What we now need to do is fill that time gap with more finds to see if there was continuous occupation between those dates or just a spasmodic settlement and to explore the connections with the Roman fort, less than a kilometre away.”

The site, which is on farm land in the Lune Gorge was discovered through aerial photography in the 1970s and first surveyed for the RCHME in the 1990s. LAS is working with Solstice Heritage on the 2019 dig and it will run from Monday 20 May to Tuesday 4 June, 7 days a week and whatever the weather!

“We have to limit visitors to pre-arranged groups,” says Jan, “but we’re keen to involve local people to help with the dig and we have space for more volunteers. There’s no minimum time commitment and no experience or qualifications required – members of LAS and the team from Solstice Heritage will direct the dig. If people would like to get involved then there’s lots of information about the site, last year’s dig, our blog and details of how to volunteer on our website at www.lunesdale.wordpress.com.”

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