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Author Gleadless, Sheffield - Mystery Excavations
pwhole

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Joined: 22/02/2011
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Gleadless, Sheffield - Mystery Excavations
Posted: 19/07/2020 14:07:32
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I've split this off from the 'Mining subsidence' topic as it probably deserved its own:

AR wrote:

White coal kilns (aka "Q" pits) don't need to be on the top of a scarp as they're for a relatively low-temperature process and don't want a strong draft but there do seem to few other explanations for this location

Well therein lies the problem, as there are several more obvious 'Q-pits' scattered around the forest in various locations, and they're not all in wind-blown spots like this one is, and are usually single and relatively small - maybe 2-3m diameter and a maximum of about 0.5m deep.

Yorkshireman wrote:

Just an idea: The line of oval depressions looks like a series of catchment ponds for a waterwheel at the bottom of the scarp - similar to many in the Harz mountains of Germany - the so-called Wasserregal. Are there any signs of leats going down the hillside?

This is a very interesting idea, and may possibly be an answer - no obvious leat right there, but there are countless drainage ditches nearby in the valley floor, not all of which seem to have been done by the council. A wheel could have been be sited in the flat ground at the base of the slope and it would make a good spot for a mill - it's very close to Blackstock Road recycling centre, if anyone knows the area. There was a 'Blyth Mill' less than a mile away on the Meers Brook in the mid-16th C.

I've found at least two possible in-line dams on the main tributary of the Meers Brook nearby, both of which are far too large to have been cut out by an old meander of the stream itself - the bank has clearly been excavated. Nearby those are a series of stepped rectangular or square pits on a gentle slope, each one connected to a higher one via a small gap that could have held a small board 'sluice' to let water run down the series. Again, I have no obvious explanation for these. However, my geologist friend also dug out some soil sample data from a BGS project from many years ago and found elevated levels of lead very close to this spot. Also elevated levels of calcium - my friend suggested the large line of pits may be connected with burning Peak District limestone for soil improvement. It's very close to the Norton-Hemsworth packhorse routes from Calver, etc.

To save me posting loads of images, here's two 'general' galleries of the area, which include shots of the features discussed. The old area of 'workings' with the high lead levels and the stepped pits are in this one - also shows a persistent leakage of water' from the stream bank that never, ever dries up. It all looks backfilled to me - photos 6-11. Also some interesting metal lumps further on:

https://pwhole.com/photo_galleries/private/CarrWood2/

The two large craters and two examples from the line of escarpment pits are in this gallery, though heavily overgrown at this time of year - photos 7,8 and 9 and then 14 and 15. A 'leat' would have to run down the steep slope adjacent to (or replacing) the wooden steps in photo 16. Any potential wheel would be in photo 17. Photo 18 could conceivably be a leat back to the stream.

https://pwhole.com/photo_galleries/private/LeesHallWoods1/

And I haven't even mentioned the stone-slabbed tunnel yet...

Thanks for the interest Wink
IP: 81.174.241.13 Edited: 19/07/2020 14:17:44 by pwhole
Yorkshireman

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Gleadless, Sheffield - Mystery Excavations
Posted: 19/07/2020 22:45:00
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Perhaps the name "Meers Brook" is a giveaway?

The term meer denoting a customary measure of land containing lead ore.

High levels of calcium (fluorite/fluorspar) and lead could indicate the processing of lead ore.
IP: 87.150.66.154 Edited: 19/07/2020 22:54:35 by Yorkshireman
alexECP

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Gleadless, Sheffield - Mystery Excavations
Posted: 19/07/2020 23:11:17
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I think the term "meer" here means boundary as this stream was boundary between Derbyshire & Yorkshire IP: 79.67.135.29
Jim MacPherson

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Gleadless, Sheffield - Mystery Excavations
Posted: 20/07/2020 09:25:44
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alexECP wrote:

I think the term "meer" here means boundary as this stream was boundary between Derbyshire & Yorkshire


I think it's even older than the development of the English shires, perhaps from the Anglo-Saxon kingdom boundaries between Mercia and Northumbria.

I also vaguely recall David Crossley mentioning bole hills in the Gleadless area but as that was some 40 years ago, I could just be making that up! Confused
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Gleadless, Sheffield - Mystery Excavations
Posted: 20/07/2020 09:35:51
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Yes. you are right.

BTW, here's an interesting study on the area:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/254219630_The_archaeology_of_woodland_landscapes_Issues_for_managers_based_on_the_case-study_of_Sheffield_England_and_four_thousand_years_of_human_impact
IP: 87.150.66.154
AR

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Gleadless, Sheffield - Mystery Excavations
Posted: 20/07/2020 11:08:10
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Yorkshireman wrote:

Perhaps the name "Meers Brook" is a giveaway?

The term meer denoting a customary measure of land containing lead ore.

High levels of calcium (fluorite/fluorspar) and lead could indicate the processing of lead ore.


I don't think it is the source of the name; there's no lead to be worked around here so the elevated levels will have come either from smelting or slag processing. Although the term "meer" is ancient, it's always been used as a measure of lead-bearing ground in a mining context, or as a pond in more general usage.

There are a number of bole smelting sites on the western margins of Sheffield, primarily Totley Moor but there's also an area of the city still called Bole Hill! It's entirely possible that there was some smelting done in the Gleadless area, given the plentiful supply of timber on the valley sides.

--

Follow the horses, Johnny my laddie, follow the horses canny lad-oh!
IP: 80.247.31.250
pwhole

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Gleadless, Sheffield - Mystery Excavations
Posted: 20/07/2020 11:52:59
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I've been using the NLS side-by-side viewer for most of this work and have found several more - all on steep west-facing escarpments in woodland. The site known in Sheffield as 'Bole Hills' is in Cobnar Wood overlooking Woodseats, and is part of Graves Park. The excavations and hillocks there are enormous, but I cannot find a single piece of research listed online. The quarry on the other side of the stream was used as an outdoor theatre up until the 1950s. The brickworks is now a Morrison's supermarket.

There are two more further west, one in Chancet Wood, which ironically I found whilst walking over to see Jim Rieuwerts, who lives not far away, and another in Parkbank Wood, further west still.

Below is a screen grab just showing all three, with the Cobnar Woods one at top right.

These are smaller features but follow a similar pattern. I think I'm going to contact South Yorkshire Archaeological Service about this, just in case some work has been done but it's never been put online.



(click image to open full size image in new window)
IP: 81.174.241.13 Edited: 20/07/2020 11:53:56 by pwhole
pwhole

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Gleadless, Sheffield - Mystery Excavations
Posted: 20/07/2020 12:02:25
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Realistically it makes perfect sense for all of these sites to be lead-smelting related, given their location. They could access them from Derbyshire essentially at one level along the SW-NE plateau, and thus didn't need to bring heavy loads downslope into town until converted to actual lead. Only when the water mills were developed was it worth bringing it down to river-level.

William Humphrey's mines in Calver were in a straight line from here, and so could have been bole-smelted and then water-smelted in succession as the tech developed. Interesting also that all the partners in Odin Mine, as it entered its heyday, were based up here, in nearby Hemsworth and Norton - Richard Bagshawe, Nicholas Stones, etc. Jim R calls them 'The Norton Mafia' Wink

Here's a gallery of photos showing the old quarry used as a theatre (1-9) and a couple around the excavations, though only 12 shows it to any extent. There's also a lump of slag (very light) found there (photo 19)

https://pwhole.com/photo_galleries/private/CobnarWoods/

I also just came across this record, via SYAS, which may be useful:

https://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archsearch/record.xhtml
IP: 81.174.241.13 Edited: 20/07/2020 12:18:54 by pwhole
AR

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Gleadless, Sheffield - Mystery Excavations
Posted: 20/07/2020 21:02:07
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So this area is known as Bole Hills too Phil? I was thinking of the one overlooking the Rivelin Valley by Crookes. Makes you think about just how much lead came out of the Peak for smelting before the late 16th century.

--

Follow the horses, Johnny my laddie, follow the horses canny lad-oh!
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pwhole

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Gleadless, Sheffield - Mystery Excavations
Posted: 20/07/2020 22:30:07
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Yep, just to the east of this is 'Bolehill Farm'. And just to the east of that, adjacent to the old Hemsworth road (now bypassed by a shallower-curved road just above it) are the remains of five 'chimney'-type structures, hidden in shrubbery. They're all about 1.5m in diameter, spaced about 3m apart and all only have half remaining - the front sides have been removed. However, they're clearly cylindrical in origin. They're mostly drystone with a little mortar in places.

However, if they were chimneys they weren't used very often, as there's no soot or scorch-marks anywhere. So maybe storage bins of some kind? But there's no buildings marked there on any maps I can find (online at least - maybe I need to go much further back).

The arrow shows where they are:



(click image to open full size image in new window)

Photos here: https://pwhole.com/photo_galleries/private/HemsworthChimneys/

I suspect the Walkley 'Bole Hills' remnants were long quarried away and/or buried under the park which currently occupies the site.
IP: 81.174.241.13 Edited: 20/07/2020 22:34:51 by pwhole
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Gleadless, Sheffield - Mystery Excavations
Posted: 28/07/2020 19:14:19
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About the half-cylindrical enclosures.

Small enclosures like these were erected to protect plants grown on hillsides against cold air rolling down into the valley.

In the past, and today, grapes were actually grown in the North of England. There is a modern vineyard as far north as Holmfirth, and old maps show what could be one on Jagger Lane in Thorncliff Green, (Naboth Vineyard, just over the road from Thorncliff Green Colliery - to the east of Kirkburton - although this name may be just a biblical interpretation of an historic land dispute)
IP: 87.150.66.154 Edited: 28/07/2020 19:15:30 by Yorkshireman
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Gleadless, Sheffield - Mystery Excavations
Posted: 28/07/2020 21:04:40
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Yorkshireman wrote:

About the half-cylindrical enclosures.

Small enclosures like these were erected to protect plants grown on hillsides against cold air rolling down into the valley.

In the past, and today, grapes were actually grown in the North of England. There is a modern vineyard as far north as Holmfirth, and old maps show what could be one on Jagger Lane in Thorncliff Green, (Naboth Vineyard, just over the road from Thorncliff Green Colliery - to the east of Kirkburton - although this name may be just a biblical interpretation of an historic land dispute)


Not sure about this older northerly extent, allegedly the Romans tried to grow vines in parts of the Lincolnshire Wolds, perhaps the terroir was sufficiently similar to the chalky stuff of northern France, quite when the climate began to cool after that is not so clearly understood, though definitely chilly by the 14thC. The Sitwell's of Renishaw Hall started a vineyard in the early 1970's but I don't think it was in any real respect commercial. Clearly things have moved north (Vale of Pickering may be the furthest so far) over the last few years.

Jim
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pwhole

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Gleadless, Sheffield - Mystery Excavations
Posted: 29/07/2020 00:04:00
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That's an interesting interpretation - several of them do have a tree growing in the centre. The prevailing wind would be downslope here, though they're well below the summit of the hill, and quite well protected already.

Before the new road was built (just behind the structures in the photos), the old road, now blocked off and 20m further downslope, was the only access through here - the structures would then be on a strip of woodland presumably owned by what seem to be almshouses. I just found this photo of the old road before it was replaced - the structures are therefore in the trees on the right. Pity they're not visible Sad

https://www.picturesheffield.com/frontend.php?action=zoomWindow&keywords=Ref_No_increment;EQUALS;s17113&prevUrl=
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