Saturday, July 11, 2020

Festival of Archaeology: Chasing walls

For the Festival of Archaeology this week, we need your help! Find out how you can get involved in some practical archaeology and help us to better understand our local environment.

Victorian archaeologists are sometimes called wall chasers. This is a little rude and refers to how they were sometimes only interested in finding ruined buildings and less concerned with the artefacts that reveal what life was like in the past. For this project though, we are going to join them in their quest for wall hunting and see if we can map all the walls in Pontefract that are made from medieval stone.

What do we mean by medieval stone - isn’t all stone much older?

We are looking for walls that are made from stone that might have been taken from one of Pontefract’s medieval buildings. The most likely buildings that stones might have come from are the castle, St John’s Priory, St Richard’s Friary, or one of the three medieval hospitals on Micklegate. We should see a cluster of medieval stone walls around those sites, but do we? That’s where you come in.

We want you to go out with your mobile phones and help us map all the walls. You can send us the location of the walls using the app, What3words. The app is free to download and use, and splits the whole world up into one metre squares named with three normal words.

We want to know about any wall that looks old and has stones in it - it doesn’t have to be all stone (as long as the stone isn’t just on the top.) The stone needs to look weathered (rounded or flat, or dished.) Here are two examples. One is just stone and the other very worn stone that has been partially rendered and mixed with bricks. It could even be a dry stone wall - that’s a wall that isn’t fixed together with mortar.
A picture containing building, outdoor, person, road

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Example of a wall with mixed stone and brick, as well as a render repair

A person standing in front of a brick wall

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An example of a wall with infilled features - note the colour of the stone.

We're not asking you to be certain (we will check them later); we don’t want you to leave the footpath or other public area; and we don’t want photos of the wall (unless it’s on your land and we can’t see it ourselves to verify it later.)

We just want:

One set of What3words per wall 
Only walls in Pontefract 
Only walls that are visible from public land or on your own property

A screenshot of a video game

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This screen shot shows what the app looks like - you can have map view or aerial photography, and it can centre on your location. The location of our second example here is at 'mile.kicks.nobody'. It’s that simple!

You can send your locations in one at a time or as a list, either using Twitter, Facebook or as an email to:

With your help we will then hopefully be able to display the results in October when (fingers crossed) the Festival of Archaeology returns.

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