About the microburin header image | Teesside oasis

Liminal Land of Moors and Cliffs, Molten Iron, a Sea of Ships and Turbines

Dear microburins,

cropped-image_emc_banner_overlay2.jpgA few folks have asked about the header image on this blog. The background image is a regenerating birch-ringed wetland on the Eston Hills, an outlier of the North York Moors overlooking the Tees estuary. The views extend northwards over industrial Teesport and Middlesbrough, with the petro-chemical industries, controversial gas power plant (and domino cascades of infuriating pylons because subsurface cables were too expensive for the North) that creates supercell plumes of artificial steam clouds which reflect the orange flares—so that it never gets dark on Teesside. The haunting glow can be seen from even the most secret dales.

Wiki Commons | CC | Stephen McCullockTo the north-east are the now-rescued blast furnaces on the coast near Marske and South Gare, with the offshore wind turbines providing a cocktail stick backdrop. As a kid, and even today, driving past the furnaces when they’re fired up is like witnessing a man-made volcano—hell, fire, molten iron and limestone—with its own esoteric and brutal beauty even if many wish it wasn’t there. Teesside is a 19th-century man-made contrivance. You can smell and taste it too. Farther north, the vista takes in Hartlepool beyond the nuclear power plant, Seal Sands (RSPB) and offshore prehistoric forests, where Heiu’s monastery was established on the headland in the AD 640s before being handed over to St Hilda by Bishop Aidan in 649, target for German shells and Eston Moor_wetland_to N_2010-08Zeppelin raids in WWI. On a clear day the view extends towards Sunderland on the Wear past the post-industrial, post-Scargill-and-Thatcher, limestone coast riven deeply by streams through lush woodland and wild flowers (e.g. Castle Eden Dene, an SSSI and National Nature Reserve).

To the south, the view is dominated by Roseberry Topping and the northern escarpment of the North York Moors and buttresses of the mighty Cleveland Hills. This was a glaciated wilderness down to the River Esk some 12,000 years ago, dotted with ice-locked lakes. It’s only modern pumps that keep lake Seamer, near Stokesley, manageable today. When the pumps break, the wetland returns.

(c) Yorkshire PressThe Eston Hills are effectively a parchment narrative, a peat-covered moorland island, upon which over 10,000 years of human activity are scribed. The hills are undercut with many 19th-century ironstone mines (the last only closed in 1949), industrial heritage, and graffiti. The tops reach their highest point at Eston Nab, once a Napoleonic signal tower set within a Late Bronze Age hillfort. Collared-urn burial mounds with cup-and-ring rock art peek through the heather. Prehistoric lithics, mostly of flint, attest to activity from the Early Mesolithic (Deepcar type) around the 9th millennium BC, Late Mesolithic (narrow blade technology), Early Neolithic (pressure-flaked leaf arrows and later oblique projectile points) through to late Bronze Age (barbed and tanged arrows, and thumbnail scrapers). Iron Age and later activity migrated to the more fertile lands at lower altitude—a testament to a combination of climatic and man-made events that, ultimately, formed the moorland landscapes we know today.

Microlith_EMDC_TeesReturning to the header image, the ‘monolith’ is one of the Early Mesolithic microliths found close to where the wetland picture was taken. It’s a broad blade obliquely truncated type with leading-edge retouch. Similar microliths have been recovered from neighbouring fields (now in different museum collections). We also have similar hints on regional promontories and escarpments such as Highcliff Nab above Guisborough and Danby Beacon. These were the first post-glacial re-colonizers of our ice-ravaged landscape.

The Mesolithic deer and hunter image is, I think, from Los Caballos in southern Spain although I do seem to have misplaced the original image.

Spence

TEESSCAPES Teesside Archaeological Society eNews | Autumn 2013

The latest edition is out—packed with news and events! Two options are available:

» Read as an online e-magazine | NEW! Gorgeous format using ISSUU e-publishing
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  • TEESSCAPES Autumn 2013Society News | 2
  • TAS Lectures | 4
  • Special Feature | 7
    Skeletons in your cupboard?
  • Activities and Events | 10
  • News Roundup | 16
  • Site Notes | 22
  • Browser | 25
  • About TAS and how to join | 26

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Uncover the hidden heritage of North East England

Spence | Twitter @microburin

Losing your sole on Teesside

Dear microburins, a moment of summer light-heartedness here, with no news except the Wimbledon mens’ tennis final…

TeesI guess the first Paradox (versus Cilit® BANG™ and the dirt is gone) is that field-walking on Teesside is possible at all? Everybody imagines a vast industrial-petrochemical carbuncle, and one of Europe’s biggest sea ports, legacy iron and steel industries, the place where railways were invented, bridges built and replicated as far as Sydney Harbour, where ICI made their Dulux® paint. Them days. Two hundred years ago none of this existed except for a minor outlet of St. Hilda’s followers (a dominant abbess), a few lazy villages and a dashing of modest stately homes. St. Cuthbert’s pop-up body-in-a-coffin and the occasional Saxon princess (body-in-a-bed) did pass through, usually headed elsewhere “in haste” as my old prof still says.

Yet Teesside, for all of its sins, still sits amidst and between remarkable geological, topographic and archaeological heritage:

  • UpleathamTo the south, the North York Moors and devastatingly dramatic coastlines – rising from offshore Holocene forests visible at low tide, through dunes to Jurassic strata and today’s sweeping high moors
  • To the south-west, the escarpment of the Cleveland Hills and ancient post-glacial lakes, where glaciers rose up, dissolved
  • SummerTo the north across the Tees estuary with its seals and bird sanctuaries, Hartlepool headland, the Durham coast—recovered from mining effluent—and the limestone plateau intercut with wild places like the Castle Eden Dene gorge
  • To the west towards the Pennine massif, the mighty Tees basin and river valley, through waterfalls and the same whinstone volcanic dykes that mark the joining of England and Scotland, ironically, and extend to the Farne Islands off Northumberland

The archaeology here spans at least ten millennia, and always with a special north-east twist: the earliest, the strangest, the pioneering, the secular, divine and profane.

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So, after show-casing the part of England that I find most fascinating, a boiling pot of archaeological research potential, I simply want to share the demise of an archaeologist’s footwear while field-walking on Teesside. My boots, like my wellies, were 26 years old and I shall miss them. Donations for new digging boots would be most gratefully received: it’s my birthday in July and everything since then has been macro-wear, deposition, attrition and taphonomy.

Thanks to Bruce for some of the pics.

TEESSCAPES Teesside Archaeological Society eNews | Summer 2013

The latest edition is out—packed with news and events! Available directly as a PDF download.

  • NAA Excavations at Greatham CreekEditorial Review | Professor Mick Aston in memoriam
  • TAS Lectures | After the summer break, the next lecture is Tue 24 September 7.30pm | How to get to Stockton Library
  • Special Feature | Northern Archaeological Associates report on surprising prehistoric and Roman finds at Greatham Creek in the Tees Estuary
  • Activities & Events | Archaeology Festivals | Fieldwork opportunities | Local and regional conferences, day schools, lectures and exhibitions
  • Site Notes | The latest regional projects and finds | Pipeline Update | Wear Stories
  • News Roundup | Stories and press coverage for our region
  • Browser | The latest recommended Browsing, Listening and Reading items
  • About TAS | Who we are | How to join | eNews Archive

Remember | eNews is free – spread the word about TAS!

Love the rich, distinctive heritage of North East England

Spence | Twitter @microburin

What’s in the Pipeline? | The Mesolithic and the lithic in two major infrastructure projects

Two major infrastructure development proposals in north-east England involve onshore and offshore interventions with ongoing assessment of the archaeological impacts:

  1. York Potash Mineral Transport System | Sirius Minerals
    Whitby, Redcar & Cleveland, Teesside, North York Moors National Park
  2. Dogger Bank Wind Farms and Offshore/Onshore Cabling | Forewind consortium
    North Sea, Redcar & Cleveland, Teesside, East Yorkshire, Humberside

How will the Mesolithic fit into the archaeological and palaeo-environmental assessment protocols (desk-based and fieldwork), prospecting-sampling strategies, mitigation-preservation decisions and, if these projects happen, recovery-dissemination-curation? Geophysical prospecting and macro-sampling strategies, for example, are either developing practices for our period and the nature of its archaeological footprint, or are unlikely to be suitably granular for identifying Mesolithic/Neolithic past activity areas. So what happens when the bulldozers go in?

There are two significant development proposals in the Teesside and North/East Yorkshire areas at the consultation/investigation-assessment stages of the planning process. Both involve pipe trenches—one for the transportation of potash-in-solution from near Whitby to a processing plant on Teesside (Wilton) and the second to carry electrical cables from a proposed offshore wind farm on Dogger Bank, landing between Marske and Redcar and progressing to Lackenby (also Wilton). Both projects are required to consider risks to both the natural (ecological) and historical (archaeological and built) environment.

You might be interested to learn more and become involved in the consultations, as a local stakeholder or as an advocate for our heritage.

Major developments challenge us to get involved throughout the process and to balance the prospect of economic & social benefits—proposed and realised—with a conscience around our archaeological assets. While we care about conservation and preservation, we might also see major new discoveries. Can we help manage those through to something which adds perspective and value to an engaged and interested community?

I would only ask what that “community” looks like and why it cares.

1. The York Potash Mineral Transport System | A Sirius Minerals Project

There has already been considerable press coverage, and some accompanying controversy, about Sirius Mineral’s proposed new mine-head at Sneatonthorpe, a few kilometres south of Whitby. For example, listen to the BBC Radio 4 programme “Potash of Gold” (April 2013, audio). Unlike the rail-transported potash from the Boulby mine, Sirius propose a pipeline carrying two steel pipes up to 700mm in diameter buried at a minimum depth of 1.2m that will carry potash in solution under pressurised conditions. Having rejected rail, road and offshore pipelines, the proposed inland route, 44.5km in length, traverses the North York Moors National Park, following the A171 Whitby to Guisborough road for a significant portion, then towards Upleatham (with known Mesolithic presence) to a processing plant on the Wilton industrial complex south of the Tees.

Archaeological impact

The Summary of Proposals Document, which has been sent to communities along the route, reflects an assessment of archaeological impacts conducted by Cotswold Archaeology in 2012. The Sirius proposal document states, in the only reference to archaeology (page 7):

“A heritage assessment has been undertaken to highlight areas of potential archaeology. To date, there are no areas of significant findings that affect the mineral transport system route. Further monitoring* during construction operations is recommended.”

*by which they mean geophysical survey, watching briefs and selective excavation.
 
The archaeological assessment (unpublished) states “A number of undesignated assets are either crossed by the pipeline route, or have the potential to fall within the working width.” 71 out of 257 identified through HER or field survey are specifically called out, spanning the Late Neolithic-Bronze Age through to post-Medieval.

Many will be aware of the stream of unusual, often unique, sometimes nationally important discoveries in a region considered an archaeological ‘backwater’ in the not too distant past.

Consultation

“The pipeline proposal falls within the remit of the National Infrastructure Directorate at the Planning Inspectorate (formerly known as the Infrastructure Planning Commission). More information can be found at: http://infrastructure.planningportal.gov.uk. York Potash is already in advanced discussions with local landowners along the route that the pipeline will take from the mine to Teesside. There will be a separate consultation period specifically on the pipeline before any planning application is submitted.” (From the York Potash Project website, see below.)

Find out more

The Summary of Proposals Document (booklet) can be requested from Sirius Minerals on the York Potash Project website. More information about the entire project can also be found there and there is an invitation to submit comments and questions, although your editor had to wait some weeks for a reply. See also the North York Moors National Park Authority press release (Jan-2013) although the mine-head and pipeline proposals are separate projects.

2. Dogger Bank Wind Farms and Offshore/Onshore Cabling | A Forewind Project

Click to visit websiteForewind is a consortium comprising four international energy companies which joined forces to bid for the Dogger Bank Zone Development Agreement as part of The Crown Estate’s third licence round for UK offshore wind farms. The proposals comprise three elements:

  • An offshore element (the wind farms) located on the Dogger Bank in the North Sea, some 125 to 290km from the coast and covering 8,660 km² with a sea depth of 18 to 63m.
  • An offshore cabling element to bring power to the coast (landfall): (1) Fraisthorpe to the south of Flamborough Head; (2) Between Redcar and Marske near Teesside
  • Cable lines connecting landfall sites with the National Grid at two points: (1) Creyke Beck near Cottingham in East Yorkshire; (2) running to the industrial areas between Teesport and Lackenby (there are four ‘projects’ with two ‘connection points’).

Archaeological impact

There are extensive resources available on the Forewind website including a comprehensive Zonal Characterisation Document (ZCD) (v2 Dec-2011, 21Mb PDF) which includes a full analysis of geology, ecology, archaeology (including wrecks and aircraft) and many other aspects of the onshore and offshore catchments. It is well-structured with copious references and worth a read, irrespective of the proposals.

Dogger Bank, or Doggerland, is part of a post-glacial land-bridge between Britain and continental Europe, probably (with some evidence) intensively occupied and exploited by Mesolithic communities until the North Sea inundation around the seventh millennium BC. The ZCD is skeptical about the survival of offshore archaeological deposits (due to “scouring” during sea-level rise), but acknowledges the significant archaeological and palaeoenvironmental potential of the offshore wind farm zones.

According to the website, Archaeological field surveys and trial trenching along the proposed onshore pipeline routes will be conducted by URS (a US commercial company with UK presence) during May-June 2013.

Consultation

Consultation on Dogger Bank Teesside is being carried out in two formal phases.

Phase One (May-June 2012) | During this phase, “Forewind explained the site selection work done to date, including the process to narrow down the locations of the offshore wind farms, landfalls and converter stations.  Stakeholders were invited to provide comments on the proposals while local people were specifically asked for information on issues to be considered when choosing the precise locations for onshore and offshore elements of the project.” The Preliminary Environmental Information 1 documents and other consultation materials are available to download here and hard copies are available locally from the locations listed here.

The consultation period for these documents is now closed. However, comments may be given consideration if possible. They can be submitted by Email: info@forewind.co.uk | Freephone: 0800 975 5636 | Freepost RSLY-HKGK-HEBR, Forewind, Davidson House, Forbury Square, Reading RG1 3EU

Phase Two (anticipated to be 2013) | During this phase Forewind will ask the local community for comments on the detailed proposals for Dogger Bank Teesside.

Development schedule

Q2 2012 First stage of statutory consultation
2012 – 2013 Environmental surveys and reporting
Q3 2013 Second stage of statutory consultation
Q1 2014 Submit applications for development consent order(s)
Q2 2015 Application(s) determined
2015 – 2017 Pre-construction phase
2016 – 2021 Construction
2017 onwards Operation

Recent feedback and status

Forewind very kindly responded (and gave permission to quote) this statement (April 2013):

“We are working with Wessex Archaeology Coastal and Marine to assess the impact of the Dogger Bank wind farms to offshore archaeology. This comprises the archaeological assessment of both geotechnical and geophysical data aimed at an in depth analysis of the palaeo-landscape and palaeo-environment and the potential for prehistoric archaeology, as well as the assessment of maritime and aviation archaeology. In addition Forewind is working closely with The Crown Estate to record any finds under the ORPAD protocol (Offshore Renewables Protocol for Archaeological Discoveries) as a result of our extensive survey programme.

Onshore, the baseline archaeology assessment is being undertaken by the heritage team at URS www.ursglobal.com and is currently on-going.  We have consulted English Heritage and the archaeology advisor to Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council – Phil Abramson and his colleagues at NEAR, who will no doubt be known to TAS members.  The suitability for geophysical survey was discussed and agreed with Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.  Subsequently a programme of detailed magnetometry for the onshore cable routes has been carried out, and the interpretation plots are currently being processed.  The results are very clear and several areas of enclosure and trackways have been identified which are indicative of late prehistoric and Roman settlement-related activity.  In addition, the surveys have identified anomalies relating to First World War practice trenches at the landfall.  The fieldwork is being undertaken by Archaeology Services University of Durham and all reports will eventually be uploaded to OASIS and submitted to Tees Archaeology (for their records) and to the council.

We are planning to consult on a draft version of the environmental statement for Dogger Bank Teesside, which will cover both onshore and marine archaeology, in the autumn.  We will send you details of this consultation nearer the time and would appreciate any comments or feedback that Teesside Archaeological Society and the Council for British Archaeology Yorkshire may have.

If you are interested in seeing the level of detail our assessments go into, you could take a look at the draft Environmental Statement for our Dogger Bank Creyke Beck project.  This is on our website at http://www.forewind.co.uk/downloads/dogger-bank-creyke-beck-downloads/phase-two-consultation.html and we are inviting comments from any stakeholder.  The deadline for responses is 11 June 2013.”

Spence

TEESSCAPES Teesside Archaeological Society eNews | Apr 2013

The latest edition is out—packed with news and events!

  • TEESSCAPESEditorial Review
  • April Lecture Reminder | Tue 23 Apr 7.30pm Stockton Library : Dr Jim Innes (Durham) on the palaeoenvironments and landscapes of Fylingdales Moor, North York Moors
  • Activities & Events | Lectures, activities, events, fieldwork, training and more
  • Site Notes | The latest discoveries from the Tees area and NE England, Pipeline developments and consultations
  • Action Stations | Bamburgh Research Project crowd-funding campaign, English Heritage Angel Awards, Pevsner update for County Durham
  • Browser | This month’s recommended Browsing, Listening and Reading items
  • About TAS | How to Join | eNews Archive
  • Also available as a PDF download

Remember | eNews is free – spread the word about TAS!

Love the rich, distinctive heritage of North East England

Spence