Archaeology project has been short-listed for prestigious English Heritage Award and now needs your vote!

Posted: 29.08.14

The work of a dedicated team of volunteers has been recognised with the short-listing of the Carved Stone Investigation (CSI): Rombalds Moor Team for the annual English Heritage Awards. The Carved Stone Investigation is part of the Watershed Landscape project, managed by Pennine Prospects and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

There are 16 community groups and individuals short-listed in four groups for the Angel Awards, which were founded by Andrew Lloyd Webber to celebrate the efforts of individuals and local groups in saving their heritage. All nominees are invited to attend a star-studded, red carpet awards ceremony at the Palace Theatre in London on the evening of Monday, November 3, hosted by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The winners of each category will be announced as will the winner of the public vote. Members of the public can vote for their favourite project through the English Heritage Angel Awards website at http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/caring/angel-awards/vote2014/

Over three years the CSI team volunteers, following training in archaeological surveying and recording techniques, charted the condition of almost 500 prehistoric carved stones on Rombalds Moor, above Ilkley.

Although these carved stones are unique and of international importance and many are registered on the National Heritage List for England and English Heritage at Risk Register their location makes them vulnerable to the elements and human interaction. The team of volunteers has recorded the condition of these stones to act as a benchmark for future conservation work.

“The key to the success of the CSI project has undoubtedly been the dedication of the volunteers, many of whom put in a huge amount of time, effort, and tremendous enthusiasm,” explained Louise Brown, Pennine Prospect’s former community archaeologist.

“By recording the carved stones so extensively, we now have excellent consistent records of their current condition. This provides a crucial benchmark from which to study and understand issues of environmental damage better, in addition to monitoring damage. These volunteers, many of whom have never been involved in archaeology before, have delivered important results which will help to protect these internationally significant carved stones for future generations.”

Jo Pinfield, one of the stalwart volunteers, said the project had required a lot of commitment from the volunteers, taking time and effort to complete, but it had been a great achievement to record so many of the rocks.

“I walk my dog on the moors almost every day and I’ve always had an interest in archaeology but I had no idea we had carvings as old as Stonehenge here. Over the years I’ve walked past hundreds of them without even knowing it. By learning how to read the landscape I’ve had my eyes opened to the history that’s here, on our moor, not just the carved stones but also Bronze Age settlements and Victorian quarries,” Jo explained.

Jo and her fellow volunteers dedicated over 5,000 hours of their time, often on the moors in poor weather conditions, recording the carved stones. They felt a great sense of achievement when the data had been uploaded onto the database for everyone to access, safeguarding the stones for the future.

Andrew Lloyd Webber said: “The English Heritage Angel Awards are a highlight of my year. Meeting all the wonderful people on the shortlist, hearing the stories of their rescue projects and seeing the extraordinary range of beautiful and fascinating historic places that they have saved is extremely moving and humbling. They are both enriching their immediate communities and saving national treasures, for which present and future generations will thank them.”

Tammy Whitaker, English Heritage Planning Director for Yorkshire, commented: “The Angel Awards shine a light on the thousands of people who make up England’s heritage champions. The passion, perseverance and imagination of the volunteers who recorded and surveyed over 500 prehistoric rock carvings on the moors above Ilkley is an inspiration to us all. The dedication and determination of groups such as these ensures that together we can secure the future of sites highlighted on English Heritage’s At Risk register.”

The data generated has been archived with the West Yorkshire Historic Environment Record (HER) and uploaded on to the England’s Rock Art database http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/era/. Although the project itself has ended the work has not as volunteers continue their monitoring. A system has now been put in place for damage to be recorded and reported via a simple mobile friendly form.

To introduce more people to the stones a three mile walk has been devised, taking in eight of the stones. A leaflet detailing the route is available from the Tourist Information Centre, or the walk can be followed by using GPS tracking.
Inspired by English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk Register, there will be four Angel Awards for: the best rescue or repair of a place of worship; the best rescue of an industrial building or site; the best craftsmanship by a trainee or apprentice employed on a heritage rescue; and the best rescue of any other heritage site. The awards are funded by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and supported by the Daily Telegraph.

Funding for the Watershed Landscape project is provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the South Pennines LEADER programme (the Rural Development Programme for England), which is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union, and managed by Pennine Prospects. The project became a Europa Nostra Laureate in 2013 in recognition of its work to safeguard Europe’s cultural heritage.

Yorkshire Water United Utilities Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council National Farmers Union
South Pennines Association Lancashire County Council Pennine Heritage Kirklees Council Calderdale Council
Bradford District Council Northern Rail Natural England Environment Agency The National Trust