Post Medieval

By Caron Newman and Richard Newman

Previous Research Priorities and Progress

In this overview, post-medieval archaeology relates to the largely below-ground remains of the period 1540 to 1900. It does not cover standing buildings (other where such recording formed an integrated part of scheme with excavation and/or other forms of archaeological investigation), or the archaeology of the 20th century. Post-medieval archaeology will undoubtedly have been defined differently in other research frameworks (see Miller 2020 for instance where standing buildings are included, and the period coverage is 1540 to 1750). Not only is post-medieval archaeology somewhat fluid in its definition, but it can be difficult to justify its undertaking with some archaeologists, planners and developers, given it investigates the material culture of a supposedly well-documented and seemingly familiar past. Yet it is that very familiarity that can make it so engaging for the general public, so it should not surprise that much of the most interesting post-medieval archaeological research undertaken in the past two decades has been by community groups.

An excellent justification of the value of post-medieval archaeology is given by Alan Telford on the Allen Archaeology web pages (Telford nd), where, in his justification, two sites are used as examples, both from the North-East region, an engineering works in Gateshead and Spencer’s steelworks in Newburn. Telford points out how archaeology can shed light on aspects of well documented sites that would otherwise remain hidden. It is no surprise that the two North-East region post-medieval sites highlighted are both industrial complexes, as those are the type of sites that characterise post-medieval archaeological research in the North-East.

Upstanding, especially industrial remains continue to form the bulk of the site-based research work undertaken on post-medieval archaeology in the North-East. Such sites are widespread and numerous. Yet such sites form only one aspect of post-medieval archaeology. Much of the material culture of the later 16th and 17th centuries is unrelated to industrial archaeology, is not upstanding and is not readily accessible. A limiting factor is that with more permanent construction methods, post-medieval buildings last much longer and ground levels stabilise, so that in urban areas especially, there is no longer the accumulation of deep stratified sequences which can make archaeology such a valuable resource. Excavation of post-medieval contexts in urban centres often tends not to be rewarding, the results difficult to untangle and relating to evidence more readily understood from historical sources. Where archaeological evidence is well preserved, it has the potential to put flesh on historic maps for towns and villages where buildings have been demolished.

As stated in the 2006 North East Regional Research Framework (NERRF), “the sheer bulk of surviving relevant material makes characterising the post-medieval period and assessing its archaeological and historic environment resource a challenge” (Petts and Gerard 2006, 177). It is unsurprising then that each regional post-medieval research framework thus tends to focus on aspects that are most pertinent to the distinctive nature of the archaeological work predominant in their local region and in the North-East this was overwhelmingly industrial. Again, as stated in the 2006 research agenda, “the greatest change during the post-medieval period was the rise and massive expansion of industrial production in the region”. This view led the 2006 agenda to be framed around the concept that “it is important to explore both the technological side of the industrial revolution in the North-East and the wider social impact of the explosive growth of the region’s industrial economy” (Petts and Gerard 2006, 183). Consequently, not only did the backward-looking 2006 assessment have a primarily industrial focus, constrained as it was by reflecting work that had been undertaken, but also the forward-gazing agenda was similarly focused. The 2006 agenda thus explored meticulously the gaps in past research and the themes for future research in relation to technological developments and the wider evolution of an industrialised society. In contrast the 2006 agenda under-represented research areas such as religion and society, health and welfare, the maritime economy and globalisation and change in the countryside. Whilst all these themes are interlinked with the rise of an industrial society they should not always be seen primarily through the filter of industrialisation. Given that the 2006 post-medieval research agenda was largely viewed from the perspective of an industrialising society, the primary research themes against which progress will be assessed in the current reassessment are as follows:

  • The development of the coal industry up to the early 19th century, especially technological developments and the growth of early industrial communities.
  • Better understanding of the ‘Brownian’ designed landscapes.
  • The social and landscape impact of the 18th and 19th century lead mining industry in the North Pennines.
  • Increasing understanding of the lifeways of the inhabitants of the North Pennine dales through investigation of material culture and households.
  • Recognition of identities, was there a shared ‘Border’ identity across the Anglo-Scottish border recognisable through material culture, did regional identity incorporate elements of a wider North Sea shared culture, was there a growth in class identification and what was the nature of smaller sub-group self-identifications?

The 2006 research agenda emphasised the important role that community based archaeological projects could play in progressing archaeological research (Petts and Gerard 2006, ) and that recognition has proved to be accurate. As with later medieval archaeology, the North-East has benefitted from the existence in its region of the Altogether Archaeology project, which has advanced the understanding of post-medieval life in the North Pennine dales especially. The continued focus on community archaeology by Tees Archaeology has helped advance post-medieval research objectives, as has work in Coquetdale, Northumberland. Other major landscape-scale initiatives that have assisted in advancing the agenda include the assessment of the archaeological potential of the aggregates producing areas of County Durham. This project illuminated amongst other research areas early coal mining in the Wear valley, rural settlement, postmedieval agriculture and designed landscapes (Hewitt et al 2011).

The focus of the 2006 assessnemtn and agenda on industrial matters has influenced this current update to focus more on other aspects of post-medieval archaeological research, where possible. The past decade has witnessed some anniversaries of significance to post-medieval archaeological research reviews or potential stimuli to research projects. The 50th anniversary of the formation of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology was in 2016. The same year was also the tricentenary of the birth of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. These events have helped in advancing some of the research themes outlined.  As well as national overviews of research themes, these events have led to local project initiatives including the investigation by Newcastle University of a supposed Brownian designed landscape at Rothley Lakes, Wallington (Newman 2018a). The review of projects undertaken since the 2006 NERRF is made possible by the work of numerous individuals both amateur and professional, but especially notable contributions to regional post-medieval archaeology have been made in the past 15 years by regionally based researchers, Jenny Proctor, John Nolan and Richard Carlton.

National Overviews

The most significant national overview of the subject was published in Post-Medieval Archaeology in 2016 with a look back over the previous 50 years of the subject’s development. Particularly relevant papers were produced on landscape approaches to post-medieval archaeological study (Bezant and Grant 2016), the archaeology of death and burial (Renshaw and Powers 2016), conflict archaeology (Ferguson and Scott 2016) and the social archaeology of industry (Palmer and Orange 2016). These articles, together with those in The Oxford Handbook of Historical Archaeology (2017), form a strong academic basis for the study of post-medieval archaeology in any region of Britain. They will soon be joined by the Oxford Handbook of Industrial Archaeology. Some of the articles within The Oxford Handbook of Historical Archaeology, such as that by Lucas (2017) on the archaeologies of the North Atlantic, provide important international contextualisation for some of the research that is needed in the North-East of England.

Other important overviews for understanding the post-medieval period in Britain have been provided by the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology in their monograph series. This series overall indicates well the international scope of post-medieval archaeology and the need for a global view of material culture at a time when the Western world was expanding its influence and contacts. Two volumes in particular, The Archaeology of Post-Medieval Religion (King and Sayer 2011) and Estate Landscapes (Finch and Giles 2007) are reasonably up-to-date summaries of the current state of research and help to focus more regionally based research. It is notable, however, that examples of research on such matters from the North-East are absent. The archaeology of post-medieval estates has been further advanced by an increase in the understanding of the application of technology in the country house, primarily in the 19th century (Barnwell and Palmer 2012; Palmer and West 2016). These overviews include a study of the application of hydro-electric power at Alnwick Castle (Hunwick 2012) and the industrial development of landed estates (Palmer 2012) which was such an important aspect of estate development at properties such as Wallington, Northumberland. The National Trust, nationally, has facilitated much research into landed estates including most recently into the relationship between the estates and the trans-Atlantic slave trade and wider global colonial activities (Huxtable et al 2020). Such work on National Trust properties in the North-East, appears from the report to lag behind that in more southern regions.

National Programmes

There have been some national research programmes, sponsored primarily by Historic England, that are especially relevant for the understanding of the post medieval period and have been undertaken or come to fruition in the North-East between 2007 and 2020. The most broad-based and wide ranging of these programmes is the Historic Landscape Characterisation programme (HLC). This is a holistic landscape-based methodology for identifying and interpreting historic character within a defined area, usually using modern and historic Ordnance Survey mapping as the data source. HLCs have been completed in the region for Northumberland in 2008 (Williams 2008), for County Durham and Darlington in 2013 (Wiggins 2013) and for Tyne and Wear in 2014 (Collins 2014).  The HLC covering the lower Tees valley was completed in 2010 and combined in a dataset and report with the HLC for North Yorkshire, with the urban landscapes of Teesside dealt with separately (Toase 2010). In some more industrial landscapes, parts of Yorkshire for example, there has been a blending of HLC approaches with another Historic England initiative, Extensive Urban Surveys. To an extent this was the approach undertaken in the Tyne and Wear Historic Landscape Characterisation where it was concluded that “within the north-east region, industry has been a major driver of landscape change; directly in the form of industry areas such as coal and ship building; and indirectly as a force for change, resulting in the reorganisation of post medieval and early modern housing, which in turn established new kinds of communities in metropolitan and urban areas” (Collins 2014, 88). It noted too that the dominance of the coal mining and shipbuilding industries in the recent history of the North-East had resulted in Tyne and Wear “in an under-appreciation of the smaller forms of industry” that were important contributors in the development of the historic character of Tyne and Wear (Collins 2014, 88). All the reports are available online through the Archaeology Data Service (Collins 2014; Dalton et al 2010; Wiggins and Boldrini 2013; Williams 2008).

The only traditional Extensive Urban Survey completed for the region was for Northumberland, where 18 towns were surveyed, mostly of medieval origin and market towns during the post-medieval period. The unpublished reports are dated 2009 and are available online through the Archaeology Data Service. More recent initiatives exploring the largely post-medieval and modern aspects of the urban environment are Historic Area Assessments, which are assessments of the upstanding physical fabric, historic urban character and potential buried archaeological remains within urban areas containing Heritage Action Zones. These zones are places where the physical heritage is seen as being able to make a positive contribution to urban economic regeneration. Historic England have sponsored completed Historic Area Assessments in Sunderland (Newman et al 2020) and Bishop Auckland (Howard et al 2021). These are quite in-depth studies of the core historic areas of towns, integrating the full panoply of below and above ground evidence. As such they provide a comprehensive review of the heritage of a town’s historic core and are published through the Historic England Research Report Series, all available online. In Sunderland, for example, the assessment highlighted the influence of the medieval and early post-medieval town on the development of the town’s commercial life and exposed the importance of the town common as a site for the development of the town’s social provision for its inhabitants, especially the less fortunate (Newman et al 2020). Town commons are a facet of urban life that received national study through an Historic England initiative with the Town Moor at Newcastle-upon-Tyne being a case study (Bowden et al, 2009).

Other than urban areas it is the coastal zone, both rural and urban, that has received the greatest attention over the past decade. The Historic England Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Surveys (RCZAS) were undertaken along the North-East’s coastline by Archaeological Research Services between 2007-8, with 15 individual sites subject to GPS and photographic survey in 2009-10 (Tolan-Smaith 2008). The survey was aimed at identifying sites that may be adversely impacted by coastal erosion. The final report of the initial survey added 968 sites previously not identified within the regional HERs (Tolan-Smith 2008, 239). The identified sites of all periods have been integrated into the regional HERs and many were of post-medieval date, with saltings throughout the region and alum works in Teesside especially prominent. The initial survey also identified some post-medieval research themes in the 2006 NERRF that were addressed by data gathered during the RCZAS, these were pre-industrial shipbuilding, the fishing and whaling industries and the development of smaller harbours (Tolan-Smith 2008, 241-2). Post-medieval sites given specific surveys included alum works at Hummersea, Teesside and hulks at Amble, Northumberland (Burn 2010, 58-67 and 181-189). The coastal zone has been further researched through the Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network (CITiZAN), a national project operating at a local level through community volunteers. The initiative involves the identification and recording of heritage assets within the intertidal and coastal areas. The dataset being accumulated is dominated by post-medieval and modern sites, many relating to maritime industries, port facilities and military structures. Although the initiative makes a useful contribution to site discovery and has a website with a map locating sites(CiTIZAN nd), its sometimes lack of integration with local Historic Environment Records (HERs) means its usefulness is hampered. There can be duplication between HERs and the CITiZAN database even though a site may not be cross referenced, with CITiZAN collaborators not checking their ‘discoveries’ adequately against the local HER and HERs not having the time or assistance to incorporate CITiZAN data. Moreover, though easily accessible, the CITiZAN dataset, unless fully incorporated into a local HER, is too often ignored by contract archaeologists and consultants undertaking area assessments.

The suite of information improving our database of the coastal resource is completed by the ports survey undertaken along the English North Sea coast between 2014-16 by the Cornwall Archaeological Unit on behalf of Historic England. In the North-East eight port heritage summaries were produced, covering Tyneside, Teesside, Berwick, Blyth, South Shields, Hartlepool, Seaham and Sunderland. The surveys were again assessments of what is known and largely what was visible and thus the focus is on the more recent, upstanding features that relate to the maritime history of the places covered.

Outside of the coastal littoral and the urban areas the most significant extensive programme of multi-period research leading to the identification of new sites has been into aggregates producing areas forming a subset of the Historic England National Mapping Programme. The report covering County Durham came out in 2008 (Radford and Pallant). Recorded post-medieval remains, unsurprisingly, largely related to the legacy of extractive industries, including previously unmapped tramways, but also some previously unrecorded post-medieval designed landscape features were noted (Radford and Pallant 2008, 15-16). The other major national initiative aimed at improving understanding of the post-medieval rural landscape has been the Historic England farmsteads character assessments. The North East of England has fifteen assessment reports completed, one for each of the defined National Character Areas (Lake 2021).

Although all these initiatives are ostensibly multi-period, they have contributed most to understanding the post-medieval and modern periods. Some of these initiatives may seem superficial and not greatly progressing understanding of material culture, but they provide both frameworks for analysing data and have contributed greatly to increasing the dataset of known post-medieval heritage assets in the region. As such, when combined, they have considerably increased the breadth, if not always the depth, of knowledge about the post-medieval archaeological resource of the North-East since 2006. These initiatives have especially improved knowledge of the heritage resource in some of the region’s towns and understanding of the coastal areas in general, and urbanised coastal environments especially.

Data accessibility and developing methodologies and techniques

For post-medieval archaeology probably the single most significant development in the archaeological toolkit in the past fifteen years has been the increased online availability of remote imaging, most significantly the Environment Agency’s LiDAR coverage and the satellite imagery available through Google Earth. This has enabled many new sites of all periods to be identified and has been very beneficial to desk-based research and especially citizen science activities. Use of these resources followed up by ‘ground-truthing’ can add greatly to the knowledge and understanding of the development of post-medieval landscapes in upland areas especially. The South-East Northumberland survey is using these remote imaging resources to identify sites and better understand the development of the landscape in South-East Northumberland (Deegan 2018). The results of this work have yet to be made available as a report.

Considerable advances in the study of post-medieval burials and the application of forensic and osteological science have been made in recent years, especially with the now near routine use of DNA analysis along with isotope analysis. Major post-medieval cemetery assemblages have recently been investigated because of urban linear infrastructure project development in London, Blackburn and in Hull but no such similar scale work has happened in the North-East. Other scientific techniques that are beginning to contribute to post-medieval archaeology include optically stimulated luminescence profiling and dating, which has begun to be used in the North-East to date field boundaries.

Post-medieval remains, usually 18th century or later, are the most frequently encountered in developer-led archaeological sub-surface interventions in northern England, yet the contribution of this data to advancing archaeological understanding has continued to be very limited. There are a variety of reasons for this. The purpose of a planning-led intervention is usually not to advance knowledge but to fulfil the needs of a planning application. Indeed, from the viewpoint of both the developer and the archaeological curator a null evaluation result is the best possible outcome. As the avoidance of archaeological remains is the desired outcome of this planning-led work, it is not surprising that for the most part its contribution to archaeological discovery is usually to provide little more than fragmentary views of sites of already perceived limited interest. Such obscure vignettes are of lesser value for a period when the available datasets of upstanding structures and documentary data are often much more prolific than for earlier periods. In consequence few projects generate or are even designed to generate a publishable output. Notable exceptions include PCA’s analysis of the Quaker cemetery at Coach Lane in North Shields (Proctor et al 2016) and Oxford Archaeology North’s works on two early 20th century industrial sites in Sunderland (Miller 2014; Gregory et al in press).

Of the grey literature reports listed on ADS for the period 2007-2020, very few reporting sub-surface interventions contain post medieval information that is of much interest, but there are occasional nuggets. While the availability of this data online is an important development of the past decade or so in access to archaeological data, failure to publish findings of significance can mean that important findings can be ignored or missed within the increasing morass of archaeological digital data. For example, the recognition of a timber lined dock at South Shields in 2007 by North Pennines Archaeology deserves more prominence (Peters 2007).

Borderlands, identity and conflict

The idea of the Anglo-Scottish border as a distinct cultural zone with a shared material culture is a long-held viewpoint, with its unique architectural legacy being associated with the area’s turbulent reiving past, especially during the 16th century. Little archaeological work has been carried out in the past 15 years either on aspects of border identity or within the borderland area on projects with a post-medieval focus. The most significant work has examined standing buildings, notably defensible towers and bastles in Northumberland (Ryder 2021). A landscape survey of Bell Moor at Deadwater, Northumberland, undertaken ahead of proposed forestry planting, recorded the surviving above ground archaeological features within part of the holding of the Bell family, a prominent border family in the area known as the Middle March. The holding abuts the border with Scotland and contains evidence of post-medieval settlements that appear to have been abandoned in the mid-later 18th century.  One of these settlements, Hawkhope, which survives as highly visible earthworks and was thriving in the early 18th century (Peters 2016), appears to span the border. Its origins may be no earlier than the later 17th century and agricultural features apparently associated with it extend into Scotland with structures built on the line of the border. Hawkhope may be a signifier of the lack of national government control in the borderlands or even a symbol of Britishness and the irrelevance of the border after the 1707 Act of Union and the formation of the British state.

The Union of the Crowns of England and Scotland in 1603 led to the cessation of national conflict between the two countries. Together with direct government attempts to pacify the borderlands, these changes decreased the raiding and feuding between Border families. One direct result of this was a decline in investment in the defences of Berwick-upon-Tweed. In Newcastle, however, previous investment in town defences is seen as more a result of security and prosperity rather than insecurity, with wealth from local coal mining growing in response to opportunities presented by the Dissolution of the Monasteries (Graves and Heslop 2013, 218). This continued prosperity was undoubtedly assisted by the pacification of the borders and the negative impacts of later instability can be seen by the downturn in the coal trade caused by the mid-17th century Civil Wars (Graves and Heslop 2013, 219).

Anglo-Scottish conflict was reignited with the mid-17th century Civil Wars and one interesting facet of this was explored through an excavation at the Palace Green library development site in Durham in 2013. There a mass grave was found that was demonstrated to contain the interred remains of Scottish soldiers captured during the Battle of Dunbar. Skeletal analysis showed all the individuals to be male, aged between 13 and 25 years of age with an isotopic profile consistent with Scottish ancestry. It is believed that around 1,700 incarcerated soldiers died from disease and malnutrition (Gerrard et al. 2018; Villis 2016). These remains both answer the debate over the location of these burials but illustrate too, the degree of inhumanity that was present in post-medieval Anglo-Scottish conflicts.

Power and Prestige

The dominance of built heritage research in the study of non-industrial sites during the post-medieval period within the North-East, particularly in studies of elite housing, was acknowledged in the original research frameworks (Petts and Gerrard 2006, 88ff). Many of these buildings, however, are standing structures and lie beyond the scope of this document. The importance of elite buildings has been acknowledged in the publication of two books examining the development of technology in 19th-century country houses and their surrounding estates (Barnwell and Palmer 2012; Palmer and West 2016). The significance of technology in transforming the lives of the owners and their guests is explored in detail. An important regional publication appearing since the 2006 NERFF covers the 2000-2004 excavations by Pre-Construct Archaeology in the walled kitchen garden at Alnwick Castle. The evolution of the garden is recorded from its origin in 1760 as part of the implementation of a garden design by Lancelot Brown (Ridgeway and Proctor 2018).

Research into post-medieval elite buildings and landscapes has continued to be dominated by surveys or desk-based research, and there has been only a very limited number of archaeological excavations. At Cresswell Pele Tower, Northumberland, archaeological evaluation was carried out as part of a Heritage Lottery-funded project aimed at removing the site from the Heritage at Risk register (Hunter 2016). As well as evidence for a building dating to the 12th to 14th century, predating the existing late medieval tower, the wall foundation was uncovered for the 18th-century mansion house that once stood on the site. Woolsington Hall, Tyne and Wear, had been the subject of assessment and survey ahead of proposed redevelopment work, recording the evolution of the hall from the 17th century onwards. Following a fire in 2015, there was a programme of monitoring and recording, including laser survey, photogrammetry and rectified imagery, as well as recovery of materials (Macfadyen and Addyman 2017; Macfadyen 2019). Part of Lucker Hall, a 17th-18th-century building near Bamburgh, Northumberland, was the subject of archaeological survey and excavation in 2014. It was in ruins by 2005, and the archaeological work was carried out ahead of proposed redevelopment. Although the results of the excavation mostly related to the village, it did also uncover a stable block belonging to the hall (Middleton and Robinson 2016). Likewise, evaluation work by Historic England at Belsay Castle, Northumberland in 2018 (Cromwell et al), undertaken in advance of proposed new café facilities, revealed only limited results relating to the coach house and the retaining wall of the terrace on which it stands. Historic England also carried out analytical field survey and geophysical survey of earthworks within the parklands and gardens of 19th-century Sockburn Hall Darlington (Jecock and Went 2007). The surveyed earthworks are thought to be the remains of the 17th-century manor house of the Conyers, arranged around a courtyard with the main east-west range with wings at either end situated on the south side of the courtyard.

Although the excavations of and around elite buildings at Belsay and elsewhere have been limited, research on elite buildings should not be undertaken in isolation but considered as part of the wider estate landscapes. Landscape research may relate to designed landscapes and pleasure grounds around the elite buildings but may also include the wider farmed and otherwise utilised landscape, including uses for industry. Archaeological work on estate landscapes nationally has been a more active area of research in the 21st century, often driven by Historic England and the National Trust. The work of Historic England at Belsay, for example, includes survey on the wider estate landscape around Belsay Hall and Castle, as part of the Belsay Awakes project (see below). As well as a landscape analysis, various remote sensing techniques were used to the reveal the buried and invisible elements of the landscape (Oakey 2017; Linford et al 2017). These surveys identified the sites of fish ponds, the remains of a demolished 16th-century chapel, and elements of the walled garden associated with the castle. Survey was also carried out by Historic England at Croxdale Hall, to the south of the city of Durham. Here, the walled garden was assessed in order to understand its significance and to inform its future repair and management (Howard 2016). The mid-18th century garden was not just intended to provide produce and flowers, but was also a pleasure ground, where the owners could demonstrate their wealth, status and intellect. Community archaeology has played a part in the understanding of the development of the kitchen garden at Preston Park, a 19th-century house at Stockton-on-Tees (Daniels 2011). Excavations revealed the early development of the garden, particularly the greenhouse, but also provided an insight into its practical running, such as manuring practices and drainage schemes.

Archaeological work on designed landscapes was boosted by the Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown anniversary in 2016 and was marked by new research and publications. The Gardens Trust (2016), for example, published guidance on historic designed landscapes for planners and curators, and an Historic England research report produced a reference catalogue of Capability Brown’s drawings, including architectural drawings and landscape scenes (Evans and Rutherford 2019). Brown is of special relevance to the North-East, as he was born at Kirkharle in Northumberland in 1716 and is considered the most outstanding landscape designer of his time (Kirkharle Hall, National Heritage List number 1001049). Several Brown design drawings have been identified for the Wallington Hall estate, now a National Trust property, including for the creation of the Lower Lake at Rothley, as well as various buildings associated with Rothley Lakes, at the north end of the estate, and elsewhere at Wallington. Most of the proposals were not implemented, however, and even the design for Rothley Lake appears to have been either altered or never completed and the Lake environs was subsequently abandoned as a pleasure ground (Newman 2018a). The Wallington Hall estate has been the subject of various landscape surveys in recent years, mainly with the aim of informing management and conservation. Between 2012 and 2015, Rothley Lakes formed part of a research project by Newcastle University that aimed to investigate the nature of the Rothley Lakes designed landscape and its possible association with Capability Brown. Now partly overgrown with coniferous plantations, the original design was centred around two lakes on either side of a road, made to appear as one serpentine water body, with plantations of Beech and Scots Pine around open meadow, and navigated by serpentine paths. Excavation and survey traced the line and construction method of one of the paths, and identified the original layout, concluding that the path formed part of an integrated journey through a landscape in order to appreciate and enjoy it (Newman 2018a).

Rural Settlement and Society

The original regional research frameworks document approached rural settlement and landscape in two sections: settlement and agriculture (Petts and Gerrard 2006, 88-91). It provided an overview of the types of buildings found within rural settlement and the process of landscape change that took place from the 17th century, including the break-up of estates and the establishment of the existing pattern of farms and fields. An excellent contemporary archaeological, architectural and historical synthesis of the development of post-medieval settlement in Weardale during the post-medieval period, is contained in Caroline Hardie and Niall Hammond’s thematic review of that valley’s archaeology and architecture (2007).

Unlike the publications noted above the foregoing discussion does not include standing building analysis, which though highly pertinent to understanding post-medieval rural settlement, lies outside the scope of this review of archaeological investigation that has taken place since 2006. Much recent archaeological recording of post medieval rural settlement and landscape has been undertaken as part of planning-led archaeological recording programmes. The investigative techniques range from walk-over surveys to excavation, though much of the work is small-scale and not targeted at post-medieval remains specifically. At Ancroft, Northumberland, for example, a programme of archaeological evaluation uncovered medieval and later activity, including 17th to 18th century features such as a stone surface, wall foundation and negative features, which were interpreted as possibly representing the remains of a post-medieval farmstead (Goode 2014). In many cases, evidence for post medieval activity is ephemeral or undiagnostic, such as a boundary ditch recorded during a watching brief at Kirkleatham, Teesside (Clark and Bailey 2013), ditches from old field boundaries at Seaham, Count Durham (Corbett 2011), former agricultural boundaries and quarrying at Kirkwhelpington, Northumberland (Sludden 2016), and a midden deposit from the site of the village hall, Lindisfarne village, Holy Island, Northumberland (Young 2012). Post medieval settlement and their associated exploited landscapes are most often identified through desk-based assessment, which can sometimes be linked to earthwork evidence recorded during walk-over surveys. For individual development sites, evidence for these areas of rural settlement and agriculture are quite limited, for example the field system recorded at a proposed Caravan Club site at Lartington, County Durham (Scurfield 2012), possible post medieval ridge and furrow and settlement earthworks at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham (Edwards 2016), and the earthwork remains of possible building platforms at Brancepeth, County Durham (Jones 2016), which do little more than identify potential settlement sites. A programme of excavations at Lucker Hall in Northumberland, provided the opportunity to record a more detailed picture of post medieval settlement (Middleton and Robinson 2016). Here, excavation revealed that the medieval settlement was succeeded by 17th to 18th century buildings, yards, and boundaries fronting onto the village street.

Planning applications for the development around existing farmsteads has also provided some opportunity to examine the post medieval development of individual rural settlements. At Grange Farm, Old Cassop, County Durham, evaluation revealed the presence of an earlier farmstead, with two phases of building, and adjacent earthworks suggested further buildings associated with the earlier phases (Vance 2013). An evaluation at Blue House Farm, Bedlington, Northumberland revealed the remains of outbuildings, shown on 19th-century Ordnance Survey maps, but subsequently demolished (Goode 2018). Also in Northumberland, at Bonas Hill Farm, Ogle, excavation was undertaken in advance of a planned redevelopment of the derelict farm. It investigated and recorded the remains of a horse gin, though the remains were fragmentary and disturbed by later activity (Goodfellow 2016). Community projects, too, have added to the knowledge of the post-medieval evolution of rural settlements of medieval origin. In the south of the region, at Elswick, Hartlepool, community excavation on the village green was undertaken as part of the Village Atlas project, which revealed that in the post medieval period the village green was not always the open, grassed area it is today. In the 19th century and earlier, the green had been used to dump domestic rubbish and buildings were sometimes built on the green as an extension of the activities in the surrounding building plots (Errickson 2014).

Larger landscape-scale research projects exploring post-medieval settlement have largely been the purlieu of Historic England, for example as part of the Belsay Awakes project. Here an analysis of aerial photography and Lidar identified the transition from a medieval landscape of open fields with ridge and furrow relating to the villages of Belsay and Newham, to an enclosed fieldscape with a dispersed settlement pattern of individual farmsteads (Oakey 2017). Processes of post medieval landscape change were also recorded by an Historic England team at Morrelhirst Bastle, near Forest Gate in Northumberland (Pearce 2016). The survey showed that the bastle was not an isolated structure, but many have developed into a later farmstead complex, associated with a pastoral farming landscape, and which seems to have been superseded by the current Morrelhirst Farm in the mid-19th century. The only development-led archaeological project recording an extensive landscape containing numerous post-medieval remains was at Deadwater near Kielder, Northumberland, where a range of abandoned post-medieval settlements were recorded (Peters 2016).

Community archaeology projects have played a significant role in examining post medieval rural settlement. In Teesside, the River Tees Rediscovered project included building recording work and excavation in the village of Egglescliffe. This village originated as a planned settlement around a village green in the late medieval period but developed as a textile-weaving settlement in the late 17th and early 18th century. The project recorded all surviving buildings in the village (Daniels 2016) and excavated trial trenches which revealed evidence of late medieval and early post medieval activity (Errickson and Daniels 2015). A more extensive community archaeology project was carried out by the Tynedale Archaeology Group. As part of its Beyond the Wall: Edge’s Green project (Bowyer et el 2017). The results of the survey recorded features of archaeological interest across multiple periods, from prehistory onwards, and included post medieval field systems and ridge and furrow and identifying the settlement pattern from the late 18th century onwards. The Altogether Archaeology group has made an important contribution to the identification of new archaeological sites of all periods, particularly through the interpretation of aerial photographic and Lidar survey such as in the Allen Valleys and Hexhamshire survey (Ainsworth 2016). Here, post medieval features identified as part of the survey included farmsteads, field systems, routeways and industrial sites.

Many of the archaeological projects, whether planning-led or research-based, have identified rural earthwork features, such as boundary banks and ridge and furrow, and excavated ditches as part of post medieval field systems. A research project led by Newcastle University set out to better understand long-term landscape change in Northumberland, as parts of its rural landscape evolved from irregular open fields with nucleated settlement to a more rectilinear field pattern with dispersed farmsteads (Vervust et al 2020). The project chose Wallington in central Northumberland to test the origins and development of field systems. The present-day landscape is characterised by regular field systems divided into 15 separate farm holdings, which are the result of 18th and 19th century agricultural improvements. As well as retrogressive landscape analysis, the project team selected five areas for detailed geoarchaeological investigation and sampling with optically stimulated luminescence profiling and dating. The results show that some of the boundaries of the post medieval field system had their origins in the medieval period and were integrated into a new more rectilinear and densely enclosed post-medieval fieldscape.

Urban life

Post-medieval archaeological activity in the North-East undertaken since 2007 has continued to have a strong urban focus. Nevertheless, the excavation of post-medieval contexts in urban centres tends often not to be very rewarding.  The results, especially for the 16th and 17th centuries, are often adversely impacted by later developments from the 19th century, and for the 18th and 19th centuries often relate to evidence more readily understood from historical sources. An example of the former issue is the trial trench excavation carried out at New Bridge Street West, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where the archaeological remains relating to the area’s post-medieval development had been removed by 20th century redevelopment (Proctor 2015). Despite this caveat there have been significant advances made in the study of post-medieval urban archaeology in the North-East since 2007.

Much of the urban excavation work undertaken on post-medieval remains in the North East’s towns in recent years, has related to industrial remains, as at the Stephenson Quarter in Newcastle upon Tyne (Goode et al 2018), with little work exploring non-industrial features. One notable exception has been the excavation of the Union Workhouse under the car park to the rear of Darlington Town Hall (Claydon 2015).  The workhouse which was known to have been in existence by 1850 was confirmed as having a medieval building at its core (Claydon 2015, 15-16). Excavations at Percy Street, Newcastle upon Tyne indicate an area that had developed in the medieval period may have been cleared of buildings to improve the defensive capability of Newcastle’s defences during the build up to the Civil Wars of the mid-17th century (Swann 2013, 231). The first full archaeological synthesis of Newcastle’s Civil War defences and the siege of the town in 1644, is given in a published archaeological assessment of Newcastle (Graves and Heslop 2013, 236-242). Little work of any significance has been undertaken recently on post-medieval urban defences outside Newcastle including at Berwick-upon-Tweed.

In all, however, the contribution of excavation to understanding post-medieval urban development in the North-East has not been great in recent years, more significant contributions have been made by survey and synthesis projects. Two influential works of synthesis have been produced, for Newcastle upon Tyne (Graves and Heslop 2013) and for Gateshead (Nolan 2007). In addition to examining the Civil War remains, the consideration of the post-medieval archaeology of Newcastle-upon-Tyne focuses on some key themes such as the influence of the monastic properties on the use of urban space post-Dissolution (Graves and Heslop 2013, 219-224) and patterns of material culture consumption and use (Graves and Heslop 2013, 243-264). The overview of the post-medieval archaeology of Gateshead notes a general lack of known evidence related to the Civil War and it focuses primarily on industrial remains (Nolan 2007). Considerable progress has also been made in understanding post-medieval Sunderland through its material culture, notably through an analysis of its standing architecture (Johnson and Potts 2013) and an historical study of Sunderland’s distinctive contribution to working-class urban housing, the Sunderland Cottage (Johnson 2015). Sunderland’s town centre, incorporating all the areas of pre- mid- 19th century urban expansion, has been the subject of an archaeological study focusing on the development of the town in the 18th and 19th century which highlighted how the commercial heart of the town has slowly migrated westward (Newman et al 2020). A similar historic area assessment has also been undertaken for Bishop Auckland (Howard et al 2021) providing a comprehensive and well-researched analysis of the archaeological significance and urban development of the town. Whilst some of the major industrial towns of the North-East have received attention through synthesis and survey, far less has been done on the numerous small towns of the region. One exception is the extensive urban survey project for Northumberland, the reports for which came out in 2009. The report for the settlement of Belford highlights how a small village of medieval origin was in the later 18th century turned by the local estate owner, Abraham Dixon, into a small town, complete with marketplace, workhouse, woollen mill and a tile and brickworks (Finlayson et al 2009).

In addition to the publication of works of synthesis, past fieldwork projects have also been published for the towns of the North-East. For Gateshead excavations at Oakwellgate in 1999 (Nolan and Vaughan 2007), for Newcastle upon Tyne High Bridge Street in 2002-3 (Brogan 2010), and 46-54 the Close in 2004 (Platell 2013), and also excavations at Marygate, Berwick-upon-Tweed (Hindmarch 2011) have all been published in Archaeologia Aeliana. All these projects have been multi-period investigations where the post-medieval remains have not been the primary focus of research. Only one published archaeological contribution has been made to the study of the consumables produced, utilised and traded in the post-medieval town, since the 2006 research framework, the chapter on post-medieval material culture in the overview of the archaeology of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Graves and Heslop 2013, 243-267). This contains useful synthesis of the evidence from Newcastle for such artefact categories as leather, glass, ceramics and clay tobacco pipes. A further regionally useful discussion of early post-medieval ceramics on Tyneside was compiled by Jenny Vaughan and published in Archaeologia Aeliana (2007).

Ritual and Religion

The original research frameworks for the North-East provided a thorough assessment of the religious buildings and cemeteries of the post medieval period (Petts and Gerrard 2006, 103-5). Since the first frameworks document was produced, there has been little archaeological work undertaken in the North-East on religious buildings or cemeteries, outside of the survey of standing buildings. On a national and international scale, however, there have been overviews and guidance on post-medieval religion (King and Sayer 2011) and on recording burial spaces (University of York and Historic England 2020). The first is an edited volume produced from a joint conference of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology and the Society for Church Archaeology in 2008, providing an international overview of religious change. The second is the result of an Historic England funded project, ‘Discovering England’s Burial Places’, and is presented in the form of online guidance to help community groups develop new tools for burial space research and dissemination.

At a regional level, the overview of the archaeology of Newcastle upon Tyne contains substantive sections on the reuse of monastic property following the Dissolution and covers the post-Dissolution physical changes to the established Church (Graves and Heslop 2013, 219-27). An analysis of post-medieval changes to late medieval fittings has also been carried out at Hexham Abbey (Clark 2010). Although ostensibly concerned with late medieval artefacts, such as the remarkable 83 wooden painted panels, the resulting article provides an understanding of how the church was able to preserve its medieval heritage during periods of significant change in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Elsewhere, very little archaeological investigation of religious buildings or cemeteries has been undertaken. A notable exception is the archaeological exhumation of a former Quaker burial ground on Coach Lane, North Shields, undertaken in 2010 by PCA (Goode and Taylor-Wilson 2012). The site was a burial ground for the Quakers between c. 1711 and the 1850s, and the work was undertaken ahead of a residential development. A plan dated 1822 shows 32 graves or burial plots, mostly named, and the entire area of the former burial ground was excavated, with a total of 245 individual graves recorded, 229 of which produced evidence for coffins. Six graves did not contain a skeleton, although three of these contained evidence for coffins. In addition to the in situ interments, an additional 24 charnel features were recorded and the minimum number of individuals represented by all disarticulated bone from the site was 100. One other burial of note is worthy of reference, the publication of the Oakwellgate excavation in Gateshead records a single burial of a woman. The burial appears to be mid-17th century in date and was outside, though very close to, consecrated ground, unmarked, and not orientated east-west (Nolan and Vaughan 2007, 140-143). This burial has been associated with the historical record of the burial of witch, a victim of Gateshead’s 1649 witch hunt (Nolan and Vaughan 2007, 162)

Innovation and Industry

The most recent authoritative overview of the post-medieval development of British industry by an industrial heritage expert is Barrie Trinder’s 2013 review of the heritage of the Industrial Revolution. Largely an historical account, it nevertheless examines the social aspects of industry as well as dealing with the technological and business aspects. It incorporates industry-specific regional reviews including on the influence of coal mining on industrial development in the North-East, the iron industry in the North-East and the lead industry in the north Pennines. Trinder’s title for the section reviewing the coal industry in the North East was ‘first and foremost: coal mining and industry in north-east England’ and this encapsulates the importance of the region for post-medieval industrial history. Thus, it should not surprise that this is the one archaeological subject area which figures prominently in the publication of project and site-based articles at a national level. Other recent national publications that are of relevance to the industrial archaeology of the North East include the 2017 volume of the Industrial Archaeology Review which features theoretical and methodological considerations of the archaeological investigation of workers’ housing (Nevell 2017a; 2017b). Industry-specific reviews which are especially relevant to the North East include glassworking (Dungworth 2019) and underground mines and quarries (Barnatt 2019). At a regional level a study of the early railways of the Great Northern Coalfield (Turnbull 2019) provides a context for the relatively frequent archaeological interventions recording such infrastructure in the North East. Another important overview examined the 19th century industrial archaeology of Redcar and Cleveland using map regression analysis (Green and Rowe 2007).

Two important area-based overviews are an examination of the 19th century industrial archaeology of Redcar and Cleveland using map regression analysis (Green and Rowe 2007) and a published study of the industrial development of the Derwent valley in County Durham (Bowman 2020) based on a PhD thesis (Bowman 2018). Using the Manchester methodology to identify dominant industries through time it is concluded that the impact of late 17th century iron entrepreneurs is detectable through quantitative data, but that the dominant industry and the precursor industry to wider industrialisation is the coal industry. The Derwent valley analysis also reveals that industrialisation was a more dominant theme in the lower valley where there was better access to the Tyne and the North Sea (Bowman 2020).

Coal mining and secondly other minerals extraction of which the most significant is lead, formed the foundation to industrial growth in the North East. Although no site-specific publications on the archaeology of coal mining, other than for waggonways, have appeared since 2006, useful historical articles have appeared including in British Mining Memoirs dealing with subjects such as drainage at the Tyne colleries (Chapman 2017) and Eshott Colliery, Northumberland (Goodchild 2015). Archaeological accounts occur in grey literature, for example a variety of previously unrecorded post-medieval coal mining related features were recorded at Hedleyhope Fell, Tow Law, County Durham, including air shafts and spoil heaps (Peters 2007b). A trial trench evaluation was carried out at the Moss Pit site, part of the scheduled monument of Ford Colliery, Northumberland (Karsgaard 2016). The work was undertaken to find the cause of masonry collapse to an upstanding engine house and helped to further clarify the development history of this nationally significant monument. As part of the ‘Land of Oak and Iron Project’, a landscape partnership project involving community volunteers, a measured survey and limited excavation was undertaken at West Wylam colliery in the middle Tyne valley, Northumberland (Carlton 2019).

Most of the recent archaeological projects addressing coal mining related remains have been focused on waggonways. Following on from earlier 21st century investigations of waggonways at sites such as that at Houghton-le-Spring, County Durham (Glover 2005), further examples have been recorded and published. Remains of a likely 18th century waggonway were excavated at Walker, Tyne and Wear. The waggonway took coal from the Gosforth Pit of the Walker Colliery south to coal staithes on the River Tyne (Goode and Taylor-Wilson 2012; Proctor 2013). Across the Tyne in Gateshead, the Blaydon Burn waggonway was recorded in a watching brief (Roberts 2009) and Humble’s waggonway was recorded in evaluation trenches at Birtley (Dye 2014). Excavations at Birtley Road, Washington, County Durham investigated various waggonways of likely mid-18th to mid-19th century date and associated with Harraton Colliery, a colliery of probable 16th century origin (Roberts et al 2010).). Trial trench evaluation followed by a watching brief and earthwork survey recorded two waggonways in Lambton Park, County Durham. These are likely to have been of 18th-century origin and associated with one of the many small coal pits that were subsumed within a landscape park in the later 18th century (Watson 2019). In contrast to the wooden tracked waggonways of 18th century origin, one investigation into an early 19th century iron tracked railway has been published, part of the Brunton and Shields railway near Wideopen on the north side of the lower Tyne (Wood 2013). These waggonway and early railway investigations have addressed one of the research sub-themes from the original NERFF dealing with the development of early railways. Although rarely accurately dated or contextualised in terms of their significance, these investigations have at least gathered further data on the construction methods used.

As with coal mining useful, largely historical, articles on lead mining can be found in British Mining Memoirs, including a history of mining in the 16th and 17th centuries in Teessdale (Heyes 2010). For many years the North of England Lead Mining Museum at Killhope, upper Weardale in County Durham, has been the principal site for investigating lead mining archaeology in the Pennines. In 2012 a programme of archaeological evaluation and building recording was undertaken at the Killhope lead mine buddle house built in 1877 (The Archaeological Practice 2013). Further excavation was undertaken inside the buddle house in 2013 and two circular buddles of convex type were found (The Archaeological Practice 2014). In addition to these research investigations undertaken as part of the North Pennines Altogether Archaeology community project, a watching brief was carried out during the excavation for a new water main (Ross 2012). Two previously unidentified walls were recorded, one of which continued the line of the north-western wall of the mine shop and the other formed the continuation of the north-western edge of the washing floor (Ross 2012). A further community archaeology scheme investigated the lead smelt mill at Dukesfield on the Allendale Estate in Northumberland. The fieldwork included geophysical survey, evaluation trenching and building analysis ahead of conservation work (Burgess and Rushton 2012). The most significant planning-led investigation of a lead working site in recent years comprised landscape survey and building recording at the 19th-century Morehope lead mine, Ninebanks, Northumberland (Wooler 2012). The mine shop, mine level, bouse teams and a lime kiln were recorded. Another development-led project was a watching brief at Barney Craig lead mine, Carrshield in west Allendale, Northumberland, which was undertaken during drainage works on the tailings caused by 20th century reworking of the lead mine spoilheaps to extract fluorspar (Turner 2017). These tailings had buried the lead mining remains and thus the degree of lead mine preservation was unknown. The watching brief recorded structural remains associated with lead mining beneath the tailings.

The availability of local resources such as coal and other minerals facilitated the development of major heavy industries in the North East. The three such industries that have received some significant archaeological attention since the previous iteration of the NERFF are iron and steel, glassworking and engineering. One of the most investigated sites in response to redevelopment, is the Swalwell Ironworks in Tyne and Wear, with two campaigns of investigation in 2005 and 2016 published in the Industrial Archaeology Review (Cranstone 2011 and Lotherington et al 2022). Well-preserved remains of buildings dating to the early 18th-century origins of the ironworks were found, including a forge building. Evidence was recorded of continuous modification to these structures throughout the 18th and 19th centuries (Proctor et al 2011). A further excavation to the west of the originally excavated area found more evidence of early 18th-century remains as well as remains of a mid-19th-century crucible furnace and an anchor works (Lotherington et al 2022). Both campaigns of excavation exposed evidence of the Grand Warehouse erected in the early 18th century, and which must have been a significant and prominent addition to the built fabric in the lower Tyne valley when it was constructed. Hawks Crawshay and Sons ironworks in Gateshead were archaeologically investigated in 2006-7 (Proctor et al 2011) and a largely historical account of the works was published a year later (Rennison and Scott 2008). In the 18th century these works became known as the Gateshead Ironworks and structural remains of this phase of activity were found to the south of the original site during evaluation trial trenching (Proctor et al 2011). Smaller scale investigations of 19th century ironworks include a watching brief at the site of the 19th-century Newport Ironworks in Middlesborough (Jackson 2009).

The North East’s iron industry was an encouragement to the development of engineering in the region. The most significant project undertaken on an engineering works since the publication of the original NERRF was at the Stephenson Quarter in Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Goode et al 2018). The investigation area was known to contain the location of former structurers belonging to Robert Stephenson’s engineering works and the Hawthorn Locomotive works, with Stephenson’s works being the first purpose-built locomotive manufactory in the world. Excavations revealed 19th-century smiths’ shops and other workshops associated with the Stephenson works as well as the remains of Wright and Brown’s 19th-century iron foundry and a multi-phase flue system probably used to extract waste gases in the later 19th century from the Stephenson works (Goode et al 2018). Another complex large-scale industrial manufactory was excavated at Sunderland, at Wear Flint Glassworks (Gregory et al 2018). The earliest remains exposed by excavation were as depicted on the Ordnance Survey map of 1897. The remains of flues for the glass-melting furnaces were identified, along with the external walls of the glasshouse. Much of the technological data recovered related to developments in glass making during the 20th century (Gregory et al 2018). In Newcastle, the site of the Skinnerburn Pottery was excavated ahead of development, revealing the truncated remains of many of the manufacturing and associated buildings, as well as large quantities of transfer-printed and redware pottery, wasters and kiln furniture (Vance 2017). The large scale of the project, and the size of the artefact assemblage, makes the Skinnerburn Pottery excavation one of the most significant industrial projects carried out in the North East.

At the other end of the industrial scale in terms of plant size, are the craft industry sites and pre-industrial mills of the 16th to 18th centuries and the 18th and 19th century independent workshops. Since the original NERRF in 2006 no significant work has been undertaken in the North-East on the pre-industrial country potteries, which have left little historical record but could represent production on a significant scale. Only a few projects of note have been undertaken on other small-scale manufacturing sites. In an urban context the multi-period site at Oakwellgate produced evidence of a brick kiln and as inferred from fragments of a ‘muffle’ kiln, possible kiln pits and clay-pipe wasters, the likely location of a mid-17th century clay tobacco pipe manufactory (Nolan and Vaughan 2008, 144-146). John Smeaton’s water powered snuff mill at Chimney Mills, Newcastle upon Tyne, a site of national significance because of its association with the pioneering engineer, has been investigated through building recording and trenching (Baglee and Nolan 2009). Trial trenches found remnants of the later 18th century snuff mill, including the wheel pit and a conduit. In a rural context the manorial corn mill at Wallington, Northumberland, which went out of use in the later 18th century, has had three seasons of exploratory excavations by Newcastle University, exposing the water wheel pit, the gear wheel pit and elements of the leat, as well as the mill’s adaptation into workers’ cottages following the mill’s closure in the late 18th century. To date unpublished interim reports for the first two seasons only have been produced (Newman 2018b; Newman 2019).

Considerable progress has been made in the North-East in the study of the movement of the raw materials, foodstuffs and goods, extracted, produced and consumed by the North East’s industries, and the transport networks required to move them. Aside from waggonways and early railways, since the last NERRF archaeological work has been undertaken on post-medieval roads and on various aspects of the coastal infrastructure needed to ship goods. Many of the roads created and used during the period were a specific response to moving materials whether they facilitated access to lead working areas or enabled the long-distance movement of stock. The road network created in the post-medieval period in County Durham is the subject of a PhD thesis, the author of which summarises their impact as “the network helped to drive new aspirations and patterns of consumption, facilitated the exchange of information and fashions and helped to provide new sources of wealth” (Hutton 2011, 1). A study of the drove roads of Northumberland was published in 2010 and examined how in the 18th century these routes facilitated the development of a long-distance cattle and sheep trade between Scotland and England, following the creation of the British state (Roberts et al 2010). Further research into the development of post-medieval roads in the border lands of Northumberland has been undertaken by the Coquetdale Community Archaeology group (Jones 2018).

Post-medieval coastal infrastructure has long been a Cinderella topic in the study of industrialisation and yet the development of port facilities in the 17th and 18th centuries, especially, was critical to enabling increased trade in manufactured goods and the bulk transportation of raw materials. Considerable data gathering and record enhancement has taken place in this respect since the 2006 NERFF. The Cornwall Archaeological Unit has produced assessment reports on the upstanding port-related fabric for the most significant ports of the North-East (see above). Beyond assessment of the visible, a timber-lined mid-18th century dock was uncovered and recorded in a watching brief at South Shields (Peters 2007). Other significant archaeological contributions to understanding the role of the coast in transhipment include a study of the Newburn wherrie hulks, forming some of the best surviving examples of the sailing craft that shipped goods along the lower River Tyne in the 19th century (Taylor and Williams 2010). At Saltburn beach, Teesside, foreshore ‘rutways’ have been recorded. The rock-cut ruts were used to guide cartwheels and assist the movement of carts to and from the shore. It is considered that this transportation method was used to enable the movement of materials associated with both the alum and ironstone industries (Green 2010, 42).

Although the technological aspects of industrial archaeology continue to be well researched in the North-East, the social aspects are less well explored. Investigations of workers’ housing in urban contexts have been lacking in the North-East, but industrial workers’ housing in rural situations have been researched as at Ovenstones in Northumberland. Here working-class households from 19th century cottages, housing coal miners and employees of a local tile works, were excavated. The interpretation of the excavated buildings and the discard strategies evident in a midden were aided by oral history recorded not from inhabitants, as the site has passed from living memory, but from community elders whose ancestors may have shared a similar working-class culture (Webster et al 2014; Carlton 2008). The innovative methodological and theoretical approaches of this project have led to it being cited in The Routledge Handbook of Global Historical Archaeology (Massheder-Rigby 2020). More recently workers’ cottages have been investigated at the Derwentcote Furnace site in County Durham. These were originally evaluated as part of a Time Team project (Harrison 2012) with further work being undertaken by Jane Webster and Rob Young, though no report, unpublished or otherwise, covers these later investigations.

Towards an Updated Research Agenda

The preceding assessment of archaeological work undertaken in relation to the post-medieval period since 2006 reveals some intraregional disparities in coverage and some clear thematic biases. The towns of the lower Tyne and Wear valleys such as Bishop Auckland, Sunderland, Gateshead and Newcastle upon Tyne have received far more attention than those of the Tees basin such as Hartlepool, Middlesborough, Redcar and Darlington. In a rural context Northumberland and the north Pennines have received more attention than elsewhere. Thematically industrial sites continue to dominate, but projects have generally been focused on certain key industries such as coal mining and lead working. Even within one industry like coal, the focus has been on waggonways primarily. Archaeological research into transport infrastructure and movement through the landscape has been an especially strong area of research since the original NERRF, with waggonways, roads and coastal infrastructure receiving considerable attention. Industrial site research continues to be technologically focused with far less attention paid to the social aspects of industrialisation.

Other lacunae such as a lack of research into the archaeology of ports and landing places and the role of ports in the development of an industrial society, have begun to be addressed though much more work is needed especially on pre-19th century port infrastructure. In general, there needs to be more focused research on the non-industrial aspects of society in the post-medieval North-East, with an emphasis on non-elite structures and landscapes. Aside from standing building investigations, little work has been undertaken to enlighten the study of ritual and religion in society, other than the investigation of a quaker cemetery. Aspects of the overarching research themes defined in the original NERRF have been addressed, but to an extent all the themes still have relevance. Inevitably there is an urgent need for synthetic assessments of the hundreds of projects and grey literature reports which have been, and continue to be, generated through the planning system. Such work would be likely to rebalance the present state of knowledge in many areas of study and give rise to new issues and problems that should be addressed.

In considering a revised research agenda, attention must be given to the various national agendas and pointers to agendas that have appeared since 2006. The Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology and the Association for Industrial Archaeology produced a joint volume considering future directions in the archaeological study of post-1550 Britain and Ireland (Horning and Palmer 2009), which includes an article by Nevell arguing for integrated and complementary research into industrialisation that both addresses technological and social aspects (2009). The Historical Metallurgy Society has published a research framework including research themes of relevance to the post-medieval period and the National Association for Mining History Organisations (NAMHO) published a research framework that examines a variety of extractive industries (Newman 2016). In addition, aspects of a research agenda for metal mining industries are covered in a consideration of future conservation threats to such industries (Howard et al 2015). Again, much of the archaeological focus for post-medieval archaeology has been on industrial remains. Finally, at a regional level the Altogether Archaeology community project has produced its own research framework for focusing the direction of that project. Its post-medieval agenda items are again industrially focused with highlights being the post-medieval transport network, ironstone working and further site work on lead mining complexes, though a study of vernacular architecture is also emphasised (Frodsham 2017).


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