Activity 1 – Boroughgate archaeology


The site cabin has been delivered. We even had a four-legged health & safety inspector monitoring the activity! The first morning’s survey work took place in bitterly cold conditions. But what a change 24 hours made!

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The medieval borough of Skelton

Creating a medieval borough was a way to try to establish a town. The intention was that people would earn money from crafts and commercial activity, rather than work the land. This would generate cash in the form of taxes for the lord of the borough (de Brus).

sth-img-006-activity-1The borough of Skelton was established at the gates of the castle with the intention of providing a range of services for the castle inhabitants. At least sixteen properties were all laid out along the west side of a routeway that led away from the castle up to Skelton Green.

In 1301 a merchant, fuller, weaver, potter, tanner, baker, smith, butcher, carpenter and three carriers lived in the borough. Later records include an innkeeper and goldbeater.

This attempt to found a borough at Skelton was ultimately unsuccessful, and the site was slowly abandoned. The area reverted to farmland and now shows the ridge and furrow of medieval ploughing. However, the earthwork remains of houses and property boundaries can still be clearly seen. The Skelton Townscape Heritage project will be working with Tees Archaeology and volunteers better to understand how these earlier inhabitants of Skelton lived.

Geophysical survey

A geophysical survey of the area was carried out in November 2016 by a team from the Archaeological Services unit at Durham University. Two techniques were used: geomagnetic and electrical resistance. The images below show some of the activities that were undertaken during the survey work. A copy of the report produced from the survey work is available for inspection in the Project Office.

Earthwork survey

As part of the Skelton Townscape Heritage Project, Tees Archaeology is leading a project with local people and volunteers to investigate and record the medieval earthworks at Boroughgate, Skelton.

We will be carrying out survey work during May to create a full record of the earthworks. We will then use this survey, Aerial Photographs and the results of a Geophysical Survey to interpret the earthworks and to select locations for excavations in 2018.

You will be shown how to carry out survey work, no previous experience is expected and you will be working as part of a team.

If you would like to participate in this activity, please download and complete the volunteer application form, then return it as explained on the form.