Unearthing history

2nd March 2017

Get Out More has worked alongside other volunteers to unearth the hidden history of local woodlands. The initiative is part of the ‘Celebrating Our Woodland Heritage’ project from Pennine Prospects, a mass archaeological survey of woodlands across the South Pennines region, which stretches from Blackburn to Ilkley.

This February Ruth McBain, Get Out More’s Forest School Manager, volunteered on the first of a 4 day survey of Middleton Woods in Ilkley. These woods, which were mentioned in the Domesday Book and were historically over 20 times their present size, would hopefully reveal some stories…

Chris Atkinson, archaeologist and Woodland Heritage Officer for Pennine Prospects, led the survey and introduced the group to the field survey techniques being used and the data to be collated. Armed with tape measures, GPS devices, cameras & survey sheets, the volunteers spent the day covering the north-eastern section of the woodland with interesting results.

Ruth, who regularly runs our holiday forest school sessions in Middleton Woods, in addition to walking her dog there, commented “I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about my local woodlands. It was fascinating to discover two charcoal platforms, used historically for the local production of charcoal and to know that they were using small (probably coppiced) oak and hazel trees for this. It’ll be interesting to share some of this knowledge at future forest school sessions, perhaps when we make charcoal in a tin.”

Volunteering on this community archaeology project forms part of Get Out More’s commitment to invest its profits into communities and woodlands in which the social enterprise works.  Chris Atkinson thanked the volunteers, saying, “The information produced will go a great way towards identifying patterns in woodland development and their uses over time.” To volunteer at future surveys, please contact Chris Atkinson on 07582 101691 or [email protected] or for information about the project visit: