Wolsty Castle and St Christian’s Chapel Geophysical surveys and excavations 2013

St Christian’s Chapel and Wolsty Castle geophysical surveys and excavations

In June and July 2013 we began archaeological fieldwork with local volunteers on 2 sites. We focused on the site of St Christian’s Chapel just north of Abbey Town and Wolsty Castle near Silloth.

The geophysical survey involved project volunteers setting up 20 metre grids over the site and then walking systematically with magnetometers over the area. These instruments take readings of the magnetic field above-ground in the hope of detecting slight changes caused by archaeological activity. We kept the survey grid in place to help us position the trenches once the results had been downloaded and target areas chosen. Trenches were carefully positioned and opened to evaluate any interesting anomalies found during survey and to see what the state of preservation was.

The site of St Christians’ chapel was targeted first. Situated on the outskirts of Abbeytown, the site is marked on maps as a chapel site. Though the geophysical survey results proved to be inconclusive, the decision was made to investigate the field further. A total of 24 trenches of various sizes were opened and a Medieval well was discovered which had been heavily truncated by later drainage and a  cattle trough. Associated with the well is what appears to be a beam slot and a few fragments of medieval pottery. Could this be the only indication of a chapel on the site? As there was not much else found, it was decided that the site was to be closed down. This enabled all the volunteers to concentrate on the Wolsty Castle site, which was turning in to a much more promising location. The gallery below shows some of the trenches at St Christian’s.

The site at Wolsty is situated about 7 miles from Abbeytown and only a couple of miles from Mawbray. Work at the Wolsty site started with Geophysics like the St Christian’s site. The results for this looked much more promising. Trenches were opened and extended to reveal the moat, foundations of walls, cobbled surfaces, remains of a bridge which would have gone over the moat and evidence of robbing once the buildings had fallen out of use.

During the excavations, a horse burial was found amongst the robbers activity, indicating that the horse died after the buildings were out of use. Later robbing of the site disturbed the remaining features, which was evident on the geophysics results as well as during the excavation. The gallery below shows some photos of the site.

Many thanks to all our volunteers who put in so much time and effort at both sites during what was, at times, an incredible heat wave!