From Tombs to Towers

We get some interesting requests to carry out geophysical surveys and last week saw two good examples.

The first was in a local churchyard where someone had noticed a great disparity between the number of burials recorded and the number of graves evident. Of course, this is to be expected in any churchyard, where only a minority of parishioners could have afforded to erect a monument that would last (these graves dated from the early 1840s). In addition, we know that grave sites were re-used. Nevertheless, there were areas of this churchyard that appeared never to have been used at all and we were asked to investigate what lay beneath – maybe obvious signs of graves – maybe evidence of some earlier building structure. Unfortunately the results were inconclusive, with the large number of gravestone lying on the ground making it very difficult to get good readings.

The second took us much further afield – to Hoghton Tower, near Preston. This is a fortified manor house that originally dates from about the C12th, but the present building is C16th with a lot of renovation and addition carried out in the C19th. Before this the house had suffered some neglect. More interestingly, it had been subject to a siege by Parliamentary forces during the Civil War, as a result of which the old peel tower was destroyed.

A Castle Studies Trust grant is enabling an architectural survey in an attempt to better understand the Elizabethan structure of the building.

The University of Salford’s Centre for Applied Archaeology has been given the brief to carry out a dig, and we, in turn, have been asked to do some geophys in advance of that work. Here we had clear readings that should contribute to the ongoing project.

We just about got away with it weather-wise in what is turning out to be a pretty soggy summer for people working in the field!

Part of the building as it exists today.

John carrying out the resistivity survey.

A member of staff from Hoghton Tower tries her hand at some geophys.


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