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Uncovering the past: Gawthorpe Hall Dig at Harewood

Student archaeologists on trail of Yorkshire gem’s hidden past

Gawthorpe Dig with York University Archaeology Department - gawthorpe old drawing

Archaeologists from the University of York are revealing intriguing traces — hidden for more than two centuries — of the forerunner of one of Yorkshire’s great country houses.

In the shadow of Harewood House, a team of undergraduate students is carrying out the painstaking task of unearthing the remnants of Harewood’s predecessor, Gawthorpe Hall, which was demolished in 1773.

After carrying out exploratory digs and geophysical surveys over the last two years, the student archaeologists are spending three weeks uncovering the layout of the Hall of which only two contemporary illustrations survive.

Education sessions will allow school groups to explore the excavation, get their hands dirty digging and talk to the archaeologists. Workshops, lectures and public tours of the dig as well as exhibits of finds will be a feature of Harewood’s Medieval Festival on 16th and 17th July. You’ll also find out more about Harewood All Saints’ Church (founded in 1116), the 12th century Castle and medieval village of ‘Harwood’ [then spelt without an ‘e’]. Visit our Medieval Festival event webpage for details.

Gawthorpe Dig 2011 - finds

The archaeologists have already discovered a wealth of artefacts including a coin dating from the early 15th century, an 18th century chamber pot, decorative glassware and wine bottle fragments, decorative pins and a thimble as well as a range of ceramics from the medieval period up to the 18th century, which will help us to tell the story of how the family lived, how the hall was decorated and much more besides. The students have also unearthed a flint arrowhead dating back to pre-history.

Dr Finch said: “As well as providing a much longer history of Harewood that stretches thousands of years back into prehistory, the archaeology will give us a unique insight into the impact the Caribbean sugar industry and slavery had, not just on the fortunes of the Lascelles family, but on English landscape and society as a whole over two hundred years ago.”

Gawthorpe Dig 2011

David Lascelles said: “So much of what we know of Harewood’s history focuses on Harewood House and who has lived there. The excavation being done by York University students is helping to fill some of the gaps of that earlier history and – we all hope – answer some of the questions about Gawthorpe. We’ll be re-creating medieval Harewood in a digital “fly-by” to be shown as part of our Medieval Festival event in July, revealing a landscape without Harewood House and before Capability Brown’s intervention.”

Dr Finch headed a team from the University of York which travelled to Barbados last month to investigate the old Lascelles plantations, some of which still operate as sugar plantations with historic houses and factory buildings still surviving. Artefacts discovered there will be added to those found at Gawthorpe to create a new teaching resource based in Barbados and Yorkshire.

Education Sessions for Schools

Bookable education sessions will allow school groups to explore the excavation, get their hands dirty digging and talk to the archaeologists. Contact our Learning department for details on 0113 218 1043 or email.

To read more about our upcoming Medieval Festival, visit our What’s On pages here.

University of York logo

For more information about the University of York’s Department of Archaeology visit their website here…

You can also visit the dig to see the archaeology in action. Click here to read more…

Keep up with the progress of the archaeology team on their blog or facebook
You can see finds from the Dig in the Terrace Gallery as part of our Summer exhibitions programme. Click here to read more…

This summer, explore Medieval Harewood with us…

Find out more on our Medieval Harewood webpages…

Conferences, Corporate Hospitality and Christmas

On Thursday the sales team went off to the Yorkshire Conference and Hospitality Show at Savilles near the Royal Armouries. It was the first time in a ages that we’ve been to a corporate exhibition. Our new stand, which had been put together at a rapid rate of knots by the amazing Beck Marriott, was a roaring success. We attracted 15% of the total visitors to the show on the day.

Among the many attractions to our stand were the delicious mulled wine and mince pies, prepared by our fantastic hospitality team. Yes it was a bit early for mince pies but there was method in this madness. We were launching our Christmas party options and working on developing awareness of Harewood as a Christmas party venue.

Here is a short video of the stand. It was videoed using a mobile phone so the quality is fairly low.

On Friday we hosted 20 Conference buyers, from Conference Leeds, to lunch and a show around. A great bunch they were too. Fortunately the sun shone as we showed them our new Pavilion which will hold over a 1000 theatre style when it has been completed. Maggie Mash and Sue Sharpe provided us with an excellent tour of the State Floor and highlighted that the House has always been used for business as well as pleasure.

To end the lunch we asked for a volunteer. We didn’t say what they were volunteering for. But Rachel was very overexcited when we told her it was to feed our penguins.

This is just the start of Harewood’s drive to be the best conference venue in Leeds.

Harewood House new website goes live

Our new website goes live today. What a relief it has been – three months in the planning and eight months in the building! During this time we’ve been writing, sourcing images and working with colleagues on how it should look, feel and work.

We’ve worked hard to make more of the information about Harewood easier to find. Information is, mostly, now only three clicks from the home page. There are loads more images available for people to look at and get a feel of what Harewood is like before they visit.

We’re also integrating social networking sites directly into the website, with both Flickr and our Blog built directly into the website. This provides a direct feedback route for our customers to tell us what they think and also to put their photos up so the world can see them.

I could blather on about all the technical stuff about search engine optimisation and clever things that our agency, BrandNew, have done with the site, but I won’t. I’ll finish with telling you about My Harewood.

My Harewood is our new section whereby Harewood Cardholders and other visitors can tell us what they would like receive in their email newsletters. By choosing your interests in the preferences section, visitors can filter the events, exhibitions and news they see on their My Harewood home page. This automatically updates as new events, news or exhibitions are added.

We’ve also put some ‘not quite accurate’ information into the Did you know section and will be announcing a competition about this shortly. Come back for more later!

Artist in residence on the 36 Bus

Simon Warner is our artist in residence on the Number 36 Bus between Leeds and Harewood during our exhibition ‘Town and Country’ until 20th September. The residency is in partnership with bus operator Transdev Blazefield and Project Space Leeds (PSL), a contemporary art space in Leeds’ city centre. Follow the progress of Simon’s residency and add your own stories and contributions. Simon’s developing work in text, photography and film can also be viewed in the ‘Waiting Room’ at PSL throughout the partner exhibition there. Look out for announcements on the Blog too about other guided walks Simon will be conducting using scheduled bus services.

Did you know that if you come on the bus to Harewood you can get in for half price on presentation of a valid bus ticket?

Turner, Harewood and Leeds

The Yorkshire Evening Post has done a lovely write up on our new exhibition and Professor David Hill’s new book.