Archaeological dig in rural Northumberland given the go ahead thanks to grant

Tarmac grant funding has helped give Holystone History and Archaeology Group the ability to dig again.

Friday, 1st October 2021, 10:30 am
Tarmac quarry manager Gareth Williams presents a £3,500 cheque to Jan Frazer, secretary of the Holystone History & Archaeology Group.

The group is planning to dig up further sections of the Roman road which once linked Dere Street in the west with the Devil’s Causeway in the east.

Covid had put paid to the team’s work since the last dig in 2018 when ten perfect sections of the road were uncovered to the west of Holystone.

The local group formed in 2005, as a result of the Northumberland National Park’s publication of its Holystone Village Atlas.

The atlas brought together all the known history of Holystone and then invited local residents to take the project forward to try and answer the remaining historical questions about the area.

These questions included the exact location of the Augustinian priory of nuns and the route of a Roman link road.

The group have subsequently undertaken geophysical surveys, a ground penetrating radar survey and three archaeological digs; finding the foundations of the priory and locating parts of the Roman road.

Tarmac, which operates the Harden Quarry close by at Biddlestone, has offered the group £3,500 to help the project happen next May.

The quarry produces the famous red felsite stone used in local roads and at various landmark heritage sites including the Mall in London. It has been a mainstay of the valley for decades and is closely involved with several community groups in the area. Its latest help has been much welcomed.

Jan Frazer, secretary of the Holystone History and Archaeology Group, said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive these funds from Tarmac Harden.

“Without this, the latest project would be a complete non-starter. Harden’s management have been very enthusiastic about our plan and we look forward to revealing more of our Roman road to them so they can see how well-built much earlier roads were in this region, even before our famous red stone was quarried.”

Gareth Williams, Tarmac’s Quarry Manager, added: “We are proud to have been able to support this group to help in their local archaeological work and to gain an even greater understanding of the history of our local area.

“We are so lucky to have such impressive archaeological sites and we look forward to seeing what they are able to uncover.”

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