Castles & Manors
Part 1: Vinegarth – involved investigation and survey of the medieval manor building on previous excavations so that new community digs and engagement could be developed while answering key questions about the extent of the site. Interpretation was to be developed from the work and involvement of volunteers so that the outline of the old manor could be better interpreted and understood, history could be explored, and the site could be better managed and maintained. The work would also build on links to the Magna Carta and displaying previous finds.
Part 2: Strip fields – to build up coordinated interpretation of the medieval field system that still exists surrounding Epworth.
Part 3: Owston Castle – this project aimed to reveal the extent of the 11th Century Motte and Bailey, an Ancient Scheduled Monument (No. 30124) in the Isle of Axholme. This would include the clearance of the mound (trees and scrub); provision of an all abilities footpath with seating to provide public access and amenity; and the provision of interpretation boards on site. The site is also a Local Nature Reserve so the project looked to retain some existing features for wildlife and also provide nesting boxes for birds and bats.
Lead: North Lincolnshire Council
Supported by: Epworth Parish Council, Epworth Heritage Forum
The Castles and Manors project has highlighted an interesting and some-what unknown period in Epworth’s past. Following on from excavations in the 1970s, there was still little information about the manor, its location and function. Today dog-walkers use the site regularly and is meeting point for local residents visiting St Andrew’s Church. Thanks to the project, locals using the area have an increased appreciation of the site, taken more ownership, and have a better understanding of Epworth’s past.
Volunteers using techniques such as geophysics and excavation explored Vinegarth, the reputed home of the medieval Mowbray family. Volunteers and local residents attended regular updates, evening talks, open days, finds handling sessions and a wrap up of the results presentation event. Through these community engagements, residents have an increased knowledge of Epworth and perhaps what it looked like during the medieval period. The project findings will be recorded by the local Historic Environment Office and finds donated to the North Lincolnshire Museum Service. The project offered volunteers an opportunity to develop skills in archaeological excavation, geophysical surveying and finds processing. These skills have proved useful to other Landscape Partnership initiatives, progressing into education and supporting external local projects. A positive outcome of the project has been students who joined the excavation have referenced their project experiences in higher education applications and secured places at college and university.
Peeling back the layers of the scheduled Motte and Bailey Castle site has been a much-welcomed project. Prominent in the landscape, the motte and bailey castle overlooks the village of Owston Ferry with many residents previously not aware of it’s glorious and historic past. The new interpretation provided on-site has given visitors the opportunity learn more about the castle and the people who built it.
Cutting back overgrown brambles and nettles, the site has been transformed making the castle accessible and a much friendlier visitor destination. Since the work, local schools have been able to visit and have enjoyed Owston Ferry history themed activities on the mound.
“Occupied and educated children for a couple of hours.”
“It was my first ever walk to the top of the castle mound and to see the view. The children especially enjoyed the marbles and quoits.”
“I had a great time on the dig. The briefing material was good and I felt that I had enough guidance whilst also allowed to get on with it. The day was enhanced by finding some interesting items. I look forward to reading the report.”
“I enjoyed every minute, and would like to thank everyone for their patience in teaching the volunteers all the new techniques. So exciting to reveal our buried history.”
“Very enjoyable loved taking part and getting hands on in something like this.”
“First time at an archaeological dig, enjoyed learning about new skills and also finding buried items, very rewarding.”
“It had been a few years since I’d done any archaeology so I wasn’t sure if I would remember how to do anything. But everyone was so friendly and helpful that I hadn’t anything to worry about. I would definitely be interested in attending future digs.”
“This project has provided me with the confidence to seek out further archaeological fieldwork opportunities and to enrol with York Life Long Learning to undertake archaeological studies. With a view to completing an archaeological degree at some point in the near future. My family have lived in the Isle for many years, perhaps since 1600. This project has helped make some connection with these early family ties. Overall an excellent experience, very well organised. Many thanks to the archaeological team, who were very professional, knowledgeable and inspiring”