What a day! To be quite frank, I’m on my knees. The site is high up in the hills in the only part of Britain that’s still in the grips of the summer’s rain. The drive to the point where we start climbing was very hairy, but made worse when we headed up into the cloud ceiling. Suddenly everything misted over and it was like the Time Team we did high up in the Yorkshire Dales, at the Risehill navvy camp.
We got out where the track ended and took off our boots to wade across the outfall of a high reservoir. But that was only the start. Then we climbed some more and eventually reached the site of the possible Tudor mine workings. The TV Director had altered things around, so we didn’t start with Tony’s usual opening of Day 1 PTC (piece to camera). Instead we did a brief strategy scene then got straight down to business, with Phil Harding in a trench across a potential miners’ hut. So far that hut is still looking early, but we’re also still looking for positive dating evidence. We then opened trenches across several working floors, where the miners and their families broke up the ore ready for smelting. Normally we use geofizz to find these suitable sites, but sadly the high mineral content of the surrounding rocks has defeated most of John Gator’s highly sophisticated equipment. But undaunted, he’s now working on a way to use older techniques in a more effective manner. Initial results look quite promising.
The rain lifted towards the end of the afternoon and we were able to move around more freely, which was a huge relief. With any luck tomorrow morning we won’t all be cocooned in layer after layer of Gor-Tex, which is wonderful stuff, but not something I’d choose to wear all day…
It was hard work and very exhausting, but also well worthwhile. I think we’re beginning to work out how these mines evolved – and some, I suspect, might even prove to pre-date Tudor times. But that’s for tomorrow. Now I’m off to the shower, then supper, then bed.