Excavations on Baildon Moor

At the end of the summer of 2013, the Riches of the Earth: Baildon Moor team came together to discuss the possibility of excavating one of the spoil heaps associated with one of the shafts that litter the moor. With support from Countryside Officer, Richard Perham, they submitted a project design to Natural England. 

With all necessary permissions in place, the team met one cold October morning, ready to start work. In true Time team style, the excavation took place over two days. Two trenches were excavated, one to investigate the nature of the flat platform, and a further one to assess the nature and depth of the spoil. 

The flat area was found to be fairly compacted fire clay. This had been placed on top of the levelled mudstone to from a working platform. No evidence was found in the trench for machinery of any kind, the area being free from post-holes for instance. The spoil comprised almost entirely of mudstone. As the spoil heap tapered towards the end, the natural brown soil was evident to a depth of 0.5m below the present surface (shown in the photograph above). 

Alison Tymon of the West Yorkshire Geology Trust joined the team on Day Two. Whilst many dunbarella fossils were identified within the mudstones, a number of goniatie fossils were also presence. Further investigation by Alison has revealed that these goniatite fossils, Gastrioceras listeri, are from the Listeri Marine Band which lies below the 48 Yard Rock (a sandstone layer approximately 7m thick in the area of the excavation). Alison states that ‘The Listeri marine band lies directly above the Hard Bed Coal so it seems reasonable that that is the coal seam that was being extracted from that shaft. There isn't another marine band until well below the Soft Bed Coal, so both coals could have been exploited from that pit.’

Very little sandstone was recovered from the excavation which points to it being not only removed from the shaft, but transported away from the shaft and used elsewhere. A puzzle as yet unresolved!

Thanks to the team, to Alison and Barry Tymon of West Yorkshire Geology Trust, and to Richard Perham and Rick Hill, Countryside Officers with City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.