Hawkswick Pipeline

Project Profile

Project Title :

Hawkswick Pipeline

Client :

Morrison Utility Services on behalf of Yorkshire Water Services Ltd

Type of Work :

Walkover survey, Desk-Based Assessment, Geophysical survey, Watching brief and Post-excavation analysis.

Project Gallery 

Medieval terraces photographed during the walkover survey   Hawkswick Pipeline  
The bale site was only partially disturbed by the development   Gravel quarry  


Hawkswick Pipeline: Littondale, Yorkshire Dales National Park

High Wind Bank lead smelting site

The discovery and dating of a previously unknown medieval smelting site (bale) in Littondale was an important addition to the limited, but growing, information relating to early lead smelting in the Yorkshire Dales. The site consisted of a low earthwork mound, discovered during archaeological monitoring work associated with the construction of a new potable water pipeline from Hawkswick village to Throstles Nest Barn. The mound was largely unaffected by the construction of the pipeline, but a handful of disturbed pieces of slag were retained and submitted for specialist analysis. Radiocarbon dates, recovered from charcoal within a fragment of the slag, suggested the site was in use during the medieval period.

Prior to the groundworks, a walkover survey, Desk-Based Assessment and geophysical survey were carried out in order to evaluate the potential impact of the development upon any significant archaeological remains within the area. Archaeological features recorded during monitoring of the groundworks included the heavily truncated remnants of ridge and furrow ploughing, gravel quarries, and the bale site.

The majority of previously identified early lead smelting sites in the Dales are located in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale (Murphy and Baldwin 2001; Smith and Murphy 2003; White 2005, 84; Smith 2011, 91), but recent work in the region, funded by the Northern Mine Research Society (NMRS), has demonstrated medieval smelting extended into Nidderdale (Greenhowe - Smith and Murphy 2010), Grassington, Bishopdale (Bishopdale Gravel - Smith 2006) and Kettlewell. However, the site recorded at the foot of High Wind Bank is the first such site to be identified in Littondale. Littondale is rich in medieval remains, Hawkswick first being recorded in the Domesday survey of AD 1086. Further medieval remains in the vicinity include field systems, enclosures, barns, cultivation remains, trackways and other possible settlement evidence.

It is likely that Hawkswick was the closest settlement to the High Wind Bank bale, and at least some of the surrounding fields would have been under cultivation during its period of use. Lines of lead mining shafts are known to exist on the northern slope of Littondale and Hawkswick Moor top, and it is possible that, given the medieval activity in the area, that some of these shafts could relate to medieval mining and may have been the source of the ore smelted at High Wind Bank.