The Landscape Research Centre has been actively involved in rescue archaeology at Cook’s Quarry, West Heslerton, North Yorkshire in the Vale of Pickering since a visit by the director in 1977. The original excavations at Cook’s Quarry were published in the Journal of the Royal Archaeological Institute in 1986 (Powlesland, D.J., Haughton, C.A. and Hanson, J.H. 1986 ‘Excavations at Heslerton, North Yorkshire 1978-82’, Archaeol. J. 143, 53-173). Since then with the exception of a gap in excavation during the late 1980s and early 1990s, when parts of the quarry were extended without any archaeological observation, excavations have continued to examine and record areas prior to sand extraction on an almost biannual basis.
The cumulative results of these excavations have confirmed the importance of the Cook’s Quarry site with reference to the Prehistory of the North of England including the excavation of possible major Late Mesolithic or Neolithic but as yet undated post settings (?5000-4000 BC), Beaker period (2500-1800 BC) domestic settlement areas, including the examination of what appears to have been a Beaker kiln, Late Bronze age settlement and cemetery (1100-800 BC). A relict stream channel which formerly ran across the site seems to have served as the focus for activity, perhaps followed as a route through the landscape from as early as 10,000 BC, with concentrations of activity such as flint working on the banks of the stream throughout the prehistoric period.
Three seasons of fieldwork remain, with stripping part of the area formerly used as the excavation camp-site recently completed. During the 1970s, 80s and 90s the excavation camp-site housed teams of up to 120 volunteers resident for many weeks. The excavation had a tremendous impact on the village in what was then a fairly isolated place in Britain. Each year a deep rubbish pit was cut into which the chemical toilets used in those days were emptied, at the end of the season there was always material left by departing team members, most of this was disposed off-site in a skip but some made its way into the cess pit.
You can imagine our excitement this week when, during the cleaning of the new area we discovered a remarkably well preserved, but somewhat worn pair of red Dr Martens, a long time preferred shoe for the itinerant archaeologist, shoes that were both comfortable and more importantly made little impression on the fragile sandy deposits on site. The section through the pit can be seen in the image above. Alternatively look at the 3Di model published on our Sketchfab site to see the Shoes and section in 3D. We hope that Dr Martens will be able to give us a precise date for these magnificent artifacts.
More to follow…..
The section with the shoes has been re-photographed, although still in difficult bright conditions, and remodelled at higher resolution. Follow the link below