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Coastal Alum Works Project 2017 – Stoupe Brow Update

Archaeological Research Services Ltd has completed the excavations at Stoupe Brow Alum Works to record the remains being subjected to active coastal erosion. The excavations were supported by Historic England and commissioned by the North York Moors National Park Authority as part of their Monument Management Scheme.

Having identified surviving wall foundations and successive phases of floor surfaces of the yard, the last week of the excavations focused on investigating the ‘reservoir’ and drains identified in the cliff-face. The trench on the eastern side of the ‘reservoir’ showed that it had waterproofed stonewalls and flag floor, and was probably used to hold alum liquer brought to the Alum Works from the nearby quarry. It was partially filled and reused as a pond at a later stage after the Alum Works went out of use.

The final trench to be opened located a drain that had previously been recorded in the cliff face. An earlier drain had been recut and a more substantial drain constructed with stone sides and capping. The drain runs towards the south-west corner of the yard, and could have been associated with a building in this part of the site.  

All the trenches have been backfilled and the site reinstated. Work will now start on preparing a report on the excavations which will also discuss how the results of the excavations, combined with the results of the previous fieldwork at Boulby, Kettleness and Saltwick in 2015, can be used as a model for future work on ‘at risk’ coastal erosion sites.

Coastal Alum Works Project 2017 – Stoupe Brow Final Week Update

By the start of our final week at Stoupe Brow Alum Works, the team from Archaeological Research Services Ltd has opened all four of the trenches that it was intended to open.

In our first two trenches we identified surviving wall foundations, successive phases of floor surfaces of the yard and a drain (possibly post-dating the Alum Works) running out to the cliff face. Our third trench has revealed more of the original yard surface with a feature cut through it, containing slag and assorted debris. Finally the fourth trench was opened last week at the southern end of the site, which exposed a small section of the Alum Works reservoir wall and base.

Following a meeting with representatives from Historic England and the North York Moors National Parks Authority, as well as local alum-working expert David Pybus, and follow-up consultation with Historic England’s Regional Inspector, it was decided to open a fifth trench to try and find one of the drains identified in the cliff-face which is thought to have been associated with the Alum Works. This week we aim to finish excavating all the trenches, as well as to backfill and reinstate the site as neatly as possible. 

Coastal Alum Works Project 2017 – Stoupe Brow Update

Following our programme of works in 2014, Archaeological Research Services Ltd have returned to the North York Moors National Park to carry out trenching at Stoupe Brow. This was one of the alum working sites we previously examined, along with those at Boulby, Saltwick Nab, Sandsend and Kettleness. The study aims to establish the condition of preservation of the alum works at Stoupe Brow which are classified as ‘Heritage at Risk’ due to coastal erosion. This work is supported by Historic England and commissioned by the North York Moors National Park Authority as part of their Monument Management Scheme.

The Stoupe Brow Alum Works was operational between 1752 and 1828, and is one of the most complete and best-preserved examples of an alum working site in the country. To assess the preservation and character of the archaeology at the site, Archaeological Research Services Ltd are excavating four trenches across the alum works. Our team have opened the first two trenches where the alum works is at most risk of eroding into the sea targeted to characterise the surviving archaeology over the site of the former yard surface. We are in the process of de-turfing a third trench over a circular feature nearby in order to establish what function it might have held.

We have found structural elements which are potentially walls and drains, in addition to yard surfaces in the first two trenches. Across the site our finds have consisted of clay pipe stems, pantile, metalwork from the iron fittings and fixtures, and late 18th and early 19th century pottery. So far our stand-out find has been a commemorative medallion for the coronation of Edward VII. Though it post-dates the working life of the site, it is nonetheless an unusual and interesting find. 

 

 

 

ARS Ltd wins award for the Best Heritage Services Provider for Sustainable Development 2017

 

 

ARS Ltd have won the UK Business Award for the Best Heritage Services Provider for Sustainable Development 2017. Well done to all at ARS Ltd for their hard work and contributions to community work, interpretation, publishing and partnership projects that deserve such recognition.

 

 

 

ARS still recruiting for site assistants

We are still recruiting for a variety of positions across various locations. For more information please see our Employment page.

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