Ilkley Moor can be an inhospitable place in January and February but this year the opening months of the year have been very different from the last two years. The fieldwork team lost only two of their nine scheduled working days but more than made up for it when on 23 February a record 17 panels were recorded in a single day despite it being cold and the cloud base almost at head height. True, Libby and Jo had to gently scrape frozen snow off a couple of panels one day and on another frozen grouse droppings clung to the panels like superglue making photography challenging – but it has been a good month.
The last two working days were spent clearing up odds and ends, recording the last few panels in the third of the allocated sectors and mapping the archaeology of the Stead Crag cairnfield to get it done before the grouse nesting season. The unusually mild weather has confused the grouse. By early February they were already showing pre-nesting behaviour but a short spell off colder weather put a stop to that. The recording team didn’t stop though and on the morning of 1 March clocked up their 180th panel.
On that beautiful and sunny day, recorders were sent out for just a morning’s work with the intention that most of the team would meet for lunch at the Cow and Calf at one. Richard and Tony M were allocated to the two Hawksworth Shaw panels. They found them soon enough but also found themselves in the Hawksworth Moor cairnfield. With masses of archaeology to map, they left site at half past four. A tired and very hungry Tony texted, “Fascinating archaeology BTW”. What dedication!
Louise Brown, newly appointed Community Archaeologist replacing Gavin Edwards, met part of the team up at Lanshaw and came over to meet the team at the Cow and Calf – a big welcome to her. Richard is working on a new simpler 3-D imaging technique to help us catch up on the photogrammetry backlog. March sees moving to the other side of the moor to record Rivock and Rough Holden if Peter doesn’t grab the days for priority photogrammetry in the grouse breeding areas.
No-one expected the project to have covered so much work by the end of February and the Watershed Landscapes team are hugely appreciative of the commitment shown by team members.