Spectacular ruins and exciting excavations!
Altogether Archaeology volunteers spent a total of three weeks, under the expert guidance of Tom Addyman, uncovering buried structures associated with the spectacular ruins of Muggleswick Grange. This work formed module 2 of the Altogether Archaeology pilot project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage.
A medieval estate
Muggleswick is recorded in 1183 as a grange belonging to the Prior of Durham (the head monk at what is now Durham Cathedral). It was the headquarters of an extensive agricultural estate extending over some 1200 acres that provided large quantities of meat, hides and timber to the monks at Durham. The spectacular surviving ruins are thought to be of a chapel dating from the later 13th century. Further remains survive within the ground, and the houses of the present-day village incorporate much masonry plundered from medieval buildings.
The AA excavations
The excavations were designed to tie in with the conservation and interpretation of the site (part of the AONB Partnership’s Living North Pennines project). The findings show that substantial buried remains survive in addition to the visible ruins. Of particular interest is a buried range about 40 metres long and 10 metres wide, with 1.5 metre thick walls of high quality masonry incorporating substantial buttresses, surviving several courses deep partly buried beneath farm buildings. This is earlier in date than the visible ruins which were built onto it; it was probably built between 1200 and 1250 by masons based at the Durham monastery. Finds included fragments of decorated window glass and medieval pottery. The excavations also demonstrate that other buildings lie buried in the vicinity, though in the time available we were unable to investigate these in detail.
The results demonstrate that the visible ruins at Muggleswick are only a small part of what survives of the medieval grange. Buried remains, the present-day historic buildings, and the wider parkland at Muggleswick, all offer huge potential for further investigation, all linked to the economy of the Durham monastery in medieval times.
A comprehensive report covering the detailed architectural recording and conservation of the Muggleswick ruins, as well as the Altogether Archaeology investigations, will be available to download here shortly.
For further information about this project, or any other aspect of the Altogether Archaeology project, please contact the Project Manager, Paul Frodsham: firstname.lastname@example.org