Earthwork and geophysical survey confirmed the existence of what appeared to be complex layers of roadways, enclosures and field boundaries in the field near Hassop to the north of Bakewell, and with the assistance of a substantial cast of volunteers, students and schoolchildren an excavation was begun to attempt to untangle the complex archaeology of the site, and perhaps even locate evidence that a cross had once stood here.
Through the wettest July on record the volunteers braved inclement conditions to uncover a series of intercutting roadways forming a ‘Y’-shaped junction. This junction appears on cartographic records dating from the early 17th century onwards, as part of the road system connecting Bakewell to Hassop and branching off to the west towards Ashford.
The remnants of the ‘Y’-shaped junction consisted of metalled surfaces flanked by large kerbstones. A series of wheel ruts, aligned parallel with the kerbstones, were visible in the surface of the road running towards Ashford. The earliest identifiable roads consisted of holloways which were dug out and landscaped in order to provide a regular surface and a standard width for wagons and carts. These were subsequently improved with later and often wider re-surfacing.
Remnants of a wall bounding the western branch was also identified which might have been constructed when the roads were turnpiked in the mid-18th century. Earlier phases of construction amongst the roads were identified as the roads were re-laid and repaired well into the 19th century. Despite the survival of the ancient roads, no clear evidence of the location of a possible cross shaft was recognised. However, a possible structure composed of large stones over smaller limestone rubble was identified adjacent to the junction.
A small number of residual flint artefacts of the later Mesolithic period were retrieved from the excavation as well as other miscellaneous artefacts, including a substantial assemblage of pottery sherds. Additional finds included clay pipe, glass and metal objects ranging from the 17th century onwards, as well as animal bones. Of particular interest was the presence of Roman as well as medieval ceramics, suggesting a presence in this locale extending much further back in time than originally thought and no doubt attesting to the strategic importance of this natural routeway.
Click here to see a video of the excavations made by local volunteer Frank Parker.