A bit about the project
The Rusland Valley has a diverse and extensive collection stock of forest and woodland. Some of this has been carefully worked and managed for centuries, proving an essential resource to the survival of many communities. Timber was obviously used in the construction of a range of structures, from houses to pit props. It has been cut for fuel - essential to survive in the long cold Cumbrian winters - and burnt to provide charcoal for metal working. In addition, pollarded and coppiced trees were carefully managed to supply fodder for animals, spars for thatching, staves for fences, shafts for arrows, and bark for tanning. Each species of tree was valued for its own particular properties, beech, for example, responded well to steam bending and was used to make furniture, while alder produced fine charcoal used in the production of gunpowder.
Many of these diverse uses have left archaeological traces behind, which can be spotted by the trained eye. In addition to the archaeology 'of' the woodland there are also many archaeological sites hidden 'in' woodland. These vary considerably in size and appearance, ranging from industrial sites and field systems, to single standing stones or building remains.
The Rusland Woodland Survey will provide volunteers with hand on training in the identification and recording all types of woodland archaeology. Working together with professional archaeologists from Northern Archaeological Associates (NAA), this is a wonderful opportunity to learn about this lesser known branch of archaeology (excuse the pun) and gain a real insight into the heritage of our woodland.
The project has been commissioned by the Lake District National Park Authority as part of ‘Rusland Horizons: working a Lakeland Landscape’, a three-year Heritage Lottery Funded Landscape Partnership Scheme.