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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.