Battle group scoops £58k for castle dig

An archaeological group has been given £58,000 to investigate site thought to be the castle of a medieval robber baron.

The Battle of Hatfield Investigation Society (BOHIS) has announced it has been given Heritage Lottery funding of £54,000 and a donation of £4,000 from energy company SolarCentury to perform trial trenching at the site thought to be Cuckney Castle.

Their project is entitled, “Warriors Through The Landscape” and will look at how warriors have influenced the landscape.

As a bonus the project could additionally reveal evidence from the 632AD Battle of Hatfield.

The group was set up to investigate whether hundreds of skeletons thought to have been unearthed at the nearby Cuckney Church belonged to warriors in the historical Battle of Hatfield in 642 AD.

BOHIS Chairman Paul Jameson said: “The plans include LIDAR which will use an aircraft to scan the topography from Whitwell Gap in the North to Cuckney in the South (as far East as Carburton) to reveal anomalies that might be investigated afterwards.

LIDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure variable distances to the Earth. These light pulses and other data recorded by the airborne system provided by a company called BLUESKY - generate precise, 3D information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.

He said: “We have arranged for the best LIDAR to be performed which will give us the sharpest pictures available.

“Once this has been done we will start the field work to provide further clarification.

“The team hopes to dig two trenches (five days each), partly based on the knowledge we gained from the GPR results of November 2015,which identified anomalies in the fields adjoining the church.”

It is thought the castle could only have been in existence between 1135 - 1154 AD, belonging to Thomas De Cuckney, whom Paul describes as a robber baron.

Cuckney Motte and Bailey Castle was an Adulterine fort built to command a river valley.

The Anarchy was a civil war in England and Normandy between 1135 and 1153, which resulted in a widespread breakdown in law and order.

During the anarchy, barons and other lawless elements used to store their booty in forts which were mainly created quickly with a stone base and wooden construction.

BOHIS has been given permission to investigate around 20 acres of land from the church meadow to the river.

Besides the fieldwork they will run workshops and hold presentations for local groups and 3 schools. The work is expected to run between early May and September.

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