The first 7th century building to be positively identified in the Yorkshire Dales National Park has been discovered by an archaeology group who spent three weeks investigating a remote patch of land on the side of the Three Peaks.
© Courtesy Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
Radiocarbon tests have revealed that the two-room structure, unearthed to the west of Selside in Upper Ribblesdale, is one of the only Anglo-Saxon archaeological sites ever found in the north of England.
"We uncovered a small, rectangular, partly stone-built building with two rooms and in it we found 16 pieces of charcoal impressed into the compacted soil floor," said excavation supervisor Dr David Johnson.
"Two of these returned identical dates – between AD660 and 780, which puts the end of the site's use firmly within the Anglo-Saxon period. That makes this building the only firmly-dated, post-Roman archaeological site in Ribblesdale – which is of more than local significance.
"We also found small pieces of chert, a dark, rock-like flint that was knapped to make small tools.
"These are likely to date from the Early Neolithic period, possibly 6,000 years ago. It was probably pure chance that the pieces found their way into the building – they may have been trapped in turfs used for sealing the walls or roof of the building."
The relic is the latest to be found between the areas of Ribblehead and Horton, and organisers praised the amateur investigating team from the Ingleborough Archaeology Group.
"They have expanded our knowledge about the dawn of human inhabitation by the first Stone Age Dales people," said the National Park Authority's Roger Bingham.
"Their post-Roman and Anglo-Saxon discoveries have shed light on a generally unrecorded era and helped to illuminate a period once inaccurately called The Dark Ages."
- Find out more at the Group's illustrated blog.