Military memories of the First World War are being brought to life in a special community archaeology project supported by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA).
Members of the local community are being invited to help uncover the history of three military training sites in the Settle area.
Among them are two suspected trenches within the private grounds of the Giggleswick School estate that may have been used to give soldiers a taste of what life would be like when they were shipped to battlefields in Europe.
The ‘Training and Trenches’ project has been awarded £7,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the main event – the excavation of the suspected training trenches – will take place from June 18 to 23. The work will involve members of the Ingleborough Archaeology Group as well as National Park Authority staff and members from other local community groups.
James Spry, the YDNPA’s Community Archaeology Training Placement Holder and Project Manager, said: “The project will involve documentary research, a survey of the Castleberg Drill Hall in Settle and a firing range at the base of Attermire Scar, and the excavation.
“The drill hall and the firing range were used by members of the Craven Territorials, later the 1/6th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment, the Village Guard and the Giggleswick School Officer Training Corps.
“The trenches may have even been dug by members of the school’s Officer Training Corps, either before or during the war. If the excavation and further research reveals this to be the case, it will be a poignant story as many of those schoolboy officers went on to fight and die in the war and are commemorated in the school’s chapel.
“The aim of the project is to look at the physical legacy of the First World War in Britain rather than in Europe, where the battles were fought. We also want to try to find out more about the beginnings of trench warfare.
“We are hoping that people will contact the National Park Authority perhaps with memories of family members who were involved in the three sites or with letters, records or photographs that can shed light on their history.
“In addition, on June 21 there will be an open day where members of the public can come and have a look at the excavation taking place and learn more about the legacy of the Great War in the Settle region. There will also an opportunity for local children to take part in Frist Wold War education activities as well as in the excavation itself.”
Graham Dalton, the National Park Authority’s Member Champion for Cultural Heritage, said: “The international background and consequences of war are found in history textbooks. Interest in how those events a century ago affected communities has grown, and this exercise of excavation and documentary analysis relating to a dales settlement will add to our knowledge.
“It is a collaborative effort involving professionals and amateurs in the research and we are looking forward learning the results.”
Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority – Header Image : Photo courtesy of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.