Broadcast 5 March 2006
Wessex Archaeology was commissioned by Videotext Communications Ltd to carry out recording and post-excavation analysis on an archaeological evaluation by Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’ at Brimham Hall Farm, Hartwith, near Harrogate, North Yorkshire (NGR 422150 462950).
The site is believed to be that of a medieval grange, one of the 25 granges that formed part of the extensive Fountains Abbey estate. The aims of the project were to confirm that this was the site of a grange, and to understand its development over the last 500 years.
Previous excavations on this site were undertaken by Colin Platt and D. Wild in the 1960s. A small number of evaluation trenches in the vicinity of the farm revealed the presence of well-constructed stone walls; the archive for this fieldwork was subsequently lost, and the current project aimed to revisit the trenches and expand them.
Nine trenches were opened, in the immediate vicinity of the modern farm buildings of Brimham Hall Farm. Two were positioned over the location of Platt’s 1960s investigations and two were subsequently opened adjacent to these to determine the extent of the buildings revealed. Two trenches were subsequently opened over other possible structures where walls had been exposed by cattle trampling, and three more to investigate geophysical anomalies.
The excavation revealed structural elements that relate to a large building of relatively high status, with a complex sequence of construction, building expansion and abandonment and destruction. The earliest in situ building evidence could be dated to the late 14th century, but it was clear that parts of this building had reused earlier structures on the site. Thus while no direct evidence for 12th-13th century occupation of the site could be identified, which might be in keeping with a grange construction date, indirect evidence may indicate the presence of a grange building in the vicinity. This includes the reuse of tiles, and the presence of elaborate stonework incorporated into the field walls and outhouses of Brimham Hall Farm. Several of the stones bear Latin inscriptions and are very similar to the ecclesiastical masonry from the late 15th/early 16th century tower of Fountains Abbey, erected by Abbot Marmaduke Huby.