Woods’ past investigated

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A CHANCE to explore South Yorkshire’s medieval past is being offered to amateur archaeologists thanks to a new project starting this week.

The event gives the public an opportunity to discover the history of the medieval working landscape now hidden within Cawthorne Woods, near Barnsley.

The two-week event is being organised by Woodland Outreach Learning Foundation, Heeley City Farm and the University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology.

It is known the site hides mining features, slag heaps and other evidence of iron smelting – the process used to turn iron ore into iron and steel for weapons, tools and other artefacts.

It is hoped that surveying the site with the help of the public will reveal greater insights into the area during medieval times and provide the community with a connection to their local heritage.

Dr Roger Doonan, from the Department of Archaeology, said: “Preserved there amongst some beautiful woodland are traces of a previous industrial landscape.

“It wouldn’t have been belching chimney stacks and satanic mills, but rather small groups of people working away at local ore deposits and bringing about the magical transformation of stone to metal.

Sally Rodgers from Heeley City Farm said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to investigate the historic woodland.

“Together with local volunteers we hope to make some new discoveries about how people were working here during the medieval period.”

Lindsey Bielby, from WOLF, added: “The surveying is really trying to link community with local history, so finding out what happened in Cawthorne Woods many centuries ago becomes a joint venture between professionals and the public.

“The public will learn survey and archaeology skills and the archaeologists will collect data and interpret the information.”

n To book call Lindsey Bielby on 07738156217 or email lindsey_bielby@talk21.co.uk