Archaeologists Return to Site of Unusual National Park Settlement

NY Settlement Maddie

A group of both professional and volunteer archaeologists are currently investigating the site of an unusual late Neolithic/early Bronze Age settlement in the North York Moors National Park.

Located near Moorsholm in the very north of the National Park, the site was explored with a number of small trenches in April 2022. The uncovered finds have now attracted archaeologists back for one last look, with the hope of discovering more about the people who lived there up to 4,000 years ago.

Miles Johnson, Head of Historic Environment at the North York Moors National Park Authority, said: “The trenches last year were purposefully very targeted and small scale, so that the impact on both the archaeology and the surrounding environment was as small as possible. Despite this the finds were significant, including a range of stone tools, evidence of buildings, animal enclosures and a small amount of pottery. It’s quite rare to find settlement evidence from this period. The features that survive and get excavated tend to be monumental in nature, such as the barrows that stand out as large mounds in the landscape, but uncovering the everyday lives of ordinary people is important too.”

NY Settlement Keeping a record of events_credit DigVentures

“Real excavations”

The excavation is being carried out by DigVentures, a social enterprise company that brings together those who are interested in archaeology, with opportunities to get involved with real excavations. Last year more than 60 people joined the investigation, including existing National Park volunteers, local residents and students.

One such volunteer is 17-year-old Maddie, who is taking part with her parents.  This is Maddie’s first ever dig and her way of testing the waters to see if she’d like to pursue archaeology as a career.

Maddie’s mum Lucy said: “I’m so glad there is something like DigVentures out there as it means everyone has a chance to access archaeology, especially in places like the North East where I think something like archaeology can seem a little unattainable to young people like Maddie.”

When ask what her favourite moment had been so far, Maddie said: “Finding the burnt flint, as it was [my] first time and I didn’t expect to find anything”

The site first came to the attention of the National Park Authority when an aerial survey of the surrounding landscape, known as LiDAR mapping, saw evidence of prehistoric field systems and possible buildings.

The dig will take around two weeks, with work to identify and catalogue the finds continuing over the coming months. The knowledge generated will be added to the North York Moors Historic Environment Record, an index of all known heritage across the National Park.

To say up to date with settlement news and finds from the dig site, visit for live updates.

Images: DigVentures


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