Excavation of circular feature at Ingmoor Moss April 2017
Lunesdale Archaeology Society (LAS) undertook a small excavation across the ditch and bank of a circular feature, 90 m in diameter, identified on LiDAR at Ingmoor Moss. A single trench was excavated over two days at the beginning of April 2017 in an attempt to determine whether the feature is a tree ring, probably of 18th or 19th century date, or a prehistoric henge or other enclosure.
A 10m x 2m trench was opened over the extant low bank and probable ditch on the NW side of the feature. There was a distinct difference between the two ends of the trench, the eastern end (inside the enclosure) having a greater depth of soil. A line could be seen which seemed to mark the outer edge of a ditch outside the bank, and a possible second ditch appeared inside the bank.
Further excavation allowed the outer ditch to be clearly identified but the possible inner ditch was simply a thin spread of darker soil. The extant bank was slight and very clay rich. A wide smear of clay rich soil extended from both sides of the bank indicated where the bank had been ploughed out and spread across the feature. This spread extended further on the outer side of the enclosure. Beneath the bank was a small lens of very dark material which may mark the original land surface.
The cut of the ditch was clearly defined; bowl shaped and shallow, maximum 460 mm deep and 1420 mm wide. The fill was a dark loamy soil that appeared to have been deposited by natural activity. It was capped by the clay-rich spread from the bank.
The natural substrate was an orange clay.
There were no finds, but three bulk samples were obtained and sent to the University of Durham for flotation, environmental analysis and forwarding of any suitable material for C14 dating. Sample 1 was taken from the ditch fill and Sample 2 was taken from the base of the ditch. There was no clear division between the two and the fill was therefore treated as one context. Sample 3 was obtained by drilling horizontally into the dark lens of material thought to represent the original land surface beneath the bank. Unfortunately flotation yielded no remains suitable for dating.
A geophysical survey employing both magnetometry and resistivity was undertaken in August, and resistivity showed several areas of high resistance, one of which was in the centre of the feature. A 2m x 1m trench was excavated across this, but no features were seen and natural clay was encountered at a depth of 20cm.
The geophysics suggested that the feature overlays ploughing marks, although this is not absolutely clear. It is therefore suggested that this is a post-mediaeval enclosure, probably housing trees. There is a similar ploughed-out feature in another field approx. 2km away. However the latter is shown on the first edition OS map as a tree plantation, while that at Ingmoor is not shown at all. We are currently looking into ownership of the second site with the aim of carrying out a walkover and limited geophysics survey to compare the sites.
The final report is available here:
This project was made possible by a grant from the Mick Aston Memorial fund and we are very grateful for this support. Not only has it allowed us to explore this enigmatic, previously unknown structure, it has also provided us with invaluable training to help us with future activities. We also thank Jim Brightman of Solstice Heritage for his expertise and patience. Jim was a superb supervisor. We are also grateful to the Burra and Blue families for their support and permissions. Without the support of our local landowners none of this activity would be possible.