line decor
line decor



Progress Report, December 2012

The final task in the current phase of the research on Nine Standards Rigg was to look in greater detail and depth at the main features on the ridge, with ground probing radar equipment (GPR). The objective here is to survey a selection of traverses, blocks and individual points to a depth of about 3.5m across the site. These are places where detailed fieldwork and airphoto analysis suggest the existence of several subsurface layers of different materials above the bedrock and superficial postglacial debris, including man-made features such as mounds, cavities, shafts, tunnels and possibly drains.
The earliest OS maps simply label the latter as quarries, presumably extracting flagstone and sandstone for domestic use and construction; but there is also evidence of an early hill-top enclosure with simple building structures, livestock pens, water management and perhaps mineral exploration, in addition to the enigmatic cairns themselves. Each of the 30 or so survey sites was selected to examine at depth several examples of two or more of the above features (see the diagram below).
GPR equipment that can probe to 3.5m is sophisticated and expensive; it is bulky, heavy, hard to manoeuvre on site, and it requires good surface contact. The radar signal degrades rapidly in wet surface and subsurface layers, severely reducing the depth of penetration. So conditions on this already difficult site have to be just right, and it has not been a great year for good weather. Since early September, the equipment has not been available for hire when the archaeologist was; and neither coincided with the odd spell of fine, dry weather (usually over a weekend!) When in desperation we finally booked both for an 7.30am start on 3 December at the rendezvous on Tailbrigg, we found the gritter lorry was stuck near Nateby; we got further but our vehicles were stopped by black ice on short but steep sections of the road over to Swaledale. And finally, a foot of snow on the fell tops made it unlikely that good survey results would be obtained. So we agreed, reluctantly, to cancel the attempt that day; but we remain convinced that this is the correct equipment and strategy for the job.
In Spring, perhaps from Hartley Fell, with a quad bike and trailer, extra hands and better weather, we shall be successful. The delay will also allow us to raise enough money to cover the extra inputs that will ensure success next time. The constant delays this year have been very frustrating for everybody, and while our knowledge of the site has improved greatly, the geophysics remains an essential component to understand the site.

For first report of work completed in the summer see: August 2012

We already have quite a few friends who are helping with the project but more needed - please see the friends page for more information about becoming a friend or helping with the project.

To see copies of the original documents mentioned on the History page, see the documents page.

To read an exploration of the linguistic background of Nine Standards, see the what's in a name page.

There are quite a few old maps which mention Nine Standards and these can be found on the mapspage.

Nine Standards is a wonderfully photogenic place from any angle and we have added photographs to many of the pages of this website.


    Copyright © Friends of Nine Standards, 2011