£26,000 Lottery Fund boost for history project

Hope and Castleton Historical Society members preparing for their big dig later in the year. Kay Harrison with the Saxon cross in Hope's churchyard.
Hope and Castleton Historical Society members preparing for their big dig later in the year. Kay Harrison with the Saxon cross in Hope's churchyard.

A PROJECT to discover more about the history of Castleton and Hope has been given a £26,000 boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Hope and Castleton Historical Societies have received the grant for a project aiming to discover where the common people lived in the villages during the Medieval period.

The two societies are working together between now and March 2013 and the project will try and find out about the ‘hidden history’ of Castleton and Hope villages between the Norman Conquest of 1066 and the Civil War in 1642.

Di Curtis of Hope Historical Society, said: “We are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund who have awarded the Society a grant to look into the medieval history of Hope and Castleton.

“This means we can undertake documentary research, dig archaeological test pits and survey the old routes between the two villages.”

The scheme has certainly captured the interest of locals with around 75 people volunteering to get involved during a packed public meeting about the project which was held in Castleton recently.

In addition, 30 residents have already offered their gardens as test pits.

And Angela Darlington of Castleton Historical Society, added: “The test pits will be dug in people’s gardens in both villages during the first two weeks in July.

“We are looking for finds such as old pots that can show where people lived during the medieval period. Each test pit will be a metre square. We hope to dig each one in a day.”

Finds from the test pits will be shown at an open day then some will be put on display in Castleton Museum. Pupils and students from Castleton and Hope primary schools and Hope Valley College will also join in a range of activities to learn about their medieval ancestors.

The project is managed by the two societies with the help of Bill Bevan and the archaeological assistance of the University of Sheffield.

Explaining the importance of the HLF support, HLF grants officer in the East Midlands, Greg Pickup, said: “We were delighted to support this exciting volunteer-led project.

“It will provide opportunities for the whole community to gain new skills whilst exploring a hidden part of the Hope Valley’s fascinating heritage.

“The project will uncover stories that have been buried for centuries, allowing people to discover how the lives of common people shaped the history of Hope and Castleton in Medieval times.”

The societies are looking for volunteers to help with the test pits, surveying the old routeways and doing research in the record offices.

If you would like to get involved in the archaeology or documentary research, or are happy to have a test pit dug in your garden, contact Di Curtis on 01433 620724, email dicathope@aol.com or Angela Darlington on 01433 620281 or email amstafford@hotmail.co.uk.