Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership

The Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership Scheme aims to unlock and reveal the hidden heritage of the Westmorland Dales, enabling more people to connect with, enjoy and benefit from this inspirational landscape. Thanks to National Lottery players it has been supported by a grant from the Heritage Fund

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The project will involve volunteers digging up to thirty small 1mx1m test pits around the village to investigate what finds from the topsoil can tell us about the history of the village. There will be other ways to get involved if you can’t dig, such as helping with the finds washing and processing. If you are able to dig in your garden you should be fine to take part in the digging of a test pit.

Each test pit will be done by a small team of up to four people so you won’t be tackling one on your own. We are looking for volunteers both to dig the test pits, sieve the spoil for finds and to help with finds washing. The test pitting will be fully supervised and led by our appointed professional contractors, Eden Heritage Ltd.

Training will be provided and no prior archaeological experience is needed. The test pitting method is easy to learn and is designed for use by people with no prior archaeological experience. There will also be a dedicated half day training event prior to the main event weekends which will be an opportunity to learn all about the methods we will use. Attendance at this training is not compulsory for taking part but it will certainly be useful to attend if you can.

Finally we are also still looking for more locations to dig test pits in the village, either in gardens or other suitable locations where there is sufficient open ground, such as within fields that are close to the village or back onto the settlement.

The dates for the main project events in Ravenstonedale will be as follows:

Training event: 9th of April (morning) – upstairs room of Ravenstonedale Community and Heritage Centre

Main test pitting events (note – we will be using the upstairs room of the Ravenstonedale Community and Heritage Centre as a project base throughout the weekends):

  • Weekend 1 - 7th/8th May
  • Weekend 2 - 21st/22nd May
  • Weekend 3 - 18th/19th June
  • Weekend 4 - 9th/10th July

Please note – If volunteering for finds washing this will be available on the Sundays only, so the 8th & 22nd May, 19th June and 10th July. This is to ensure that there will be finds ready to process and wash.

If you would like to volunteer on the project please get in touch with me and let me know the following:

  1. Which days or weekends you would like to attend,
  2. if you are attending the training event:
    • whether you wish to dig as part of a test pitting team or assist with finds washing/processing.
    • If you are a volunteer, or an owner, please can you confirm you would be happy for the YDNPA to pass on your name and basic contact information to Eden Heritage Ltd. This info will only be used for the purpose of delivering this project and to ensure our contractor can contact an owner should the need arise on the day.

If you are interested in having a test pit in your garden or land (within or near to the village) please do get in touch with me using the contact details below if you have not done so already. Owners will be contacted to arrange the date of when they can expect a test pit on their land to be excavated and all the locations will be visited beforehand to define their exact locations.


If you have any concerns or questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I would like to extend my thanks to all the landowners who have so far given consent for test pits.

Contact Dr Douglas Mitcham, YDNPA’s Community Heritage Officer - [email protected]; 01969 652353