SWAAG’s summer 2017 dig at the Hagg, Fremington

SWAAG has been awarded a grant of ca. £9,500 for this year’s archaeological dig at the Hagg, Fremington in Swaledale.  The grant comes courtesy of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund.

The sum will cover all of the costs associated with the excavation and ensure a properly supervised and professional experience for everyone.   The excavation will run from the 5th to the 19th (inc) of July, and include two weekends.
Hagg dig
This will be a community event with the dig open to the public.  No experience is necessary, all training will be given.
 For more information, keep an eye on the SWAAG web site http://www.swaag.org





Brat’s Hill Neolithic stone circle

… at least I assume it is Neolithic.

In an atmospheric setting high above Boot in the Lake District is a group of at least three and maybe five stone circles with what seems to be several burial cairns and many   clearance cairns nearby. Not easy to get to as it involves a climb of nearly 1000 ft. We did this yesterday on a day trip to the nearby Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway and made the mistake of going straight up to the top via what appears to be an inclined plane from the mining days in the area – seriously steep near the top!

P1050546 Brats Hill stone circle Boot

Apparently there is a splendid 360 degree view of the Scafell range, Bowfell, Harter Fell, the Crinkles and the sea but it was a bit too misty yesterday. For more info see


Strangely my digital compass would not work within one of the circles; those of you of a certain age may remember Alfred Watkins’ Old Straight Track and how this morphed into Ley Lines in the hippie ’60s.  Maybe some truth in this?! For more on this topic see https://tinyurl.com/mnzye6r

Maiden Castle, Swaledale

Yesterday our local walking group went up to Maiden Castle.


The enclosure with surrounding ditch and bank – shame about flare in the lens from the sun ! Reeth in distance.

The enclosure at Maiden Castle is cut into the hillside, surrounded by a deep ditch and bank. It has traditionally been described as Iron Age and the nearby barrows as Early Bronze Age, though it is possible that the barrows at least could have earlier, Neolithic, origins.  The remains of wall‐footings for two roundhouses and at least one stone‐lined cist are visible within the enclosure.

Little archaeological investigation has been carried out with the exception of the detailed earthwork survey by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME) in 1996  and a geophysical survey by SWAAG in 2011. The report of SWAAG’s work may be downloaded from their website at

https://swaag.org/LEADER/reports.htm   (the 2nd report from bottom)

Was Alfred that Great?

New research suggests that Alfred the Great probably wasn’t that great …

The Last Kingdom – BBC’s historical drama set in the time of Alfred the Great’s war with the Vikings – has returned to our screens for a second series. While most attention will continue to focus on the fictional hero Uhtred, his story is played out against a political background where the main protagonist is the brooding and bookish mastermind Alfred the Great, vividly portrayed in the series by David Dawson.

But was Alfred the Great really that great? If we judge him on the basis of new findings in landscape archaeology that are radically changing our understanding of warfare in the Viking Age, it would seem not. It looks like Alfred was a good propagandist rather than a visionary military leader.

Alfred the Great

See the full paper  by Stuart Brookes, Senior Research Associate in Archaeology, UCL at: