Mysterious Site on Transpennine Route leaves Archaeologists digging for answers: Ravensthorpe Dig Site

Friday 19 Jan 2024

Mysterious Site on Transpennine Route leaves Archaeologists digging for answers

Archaeological discoveries in Ravensthorpe have revealed a possible historic small settlement dating back to Roman times, with environmental samples being processed in order to learn the full extent of findings.

For the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) team, groundworks are an essential step in the delivery of upgrades across the route. In certain areas, such work means archaeological fieldwork is necessary in order to identify, understand and safeguard heritage assets that may be affected.

With TRU upgrades being carried out in West Yorkshire, archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology North took to multiple sites on our route in between Huddersfield and Dewsbury.

Excavations at Heaton Lodge and Thornhill Lees Farm produced more commonly found, industrial post-medieval archaeology in the form of earthworks and other minor finds, with no significant remains. It was the works in Ravensthorpe, though, that uncovered some archaeological mysteries.

Following initial work, further investigation of the site was required after the discovery of a large, irregularly shaped cropmark that was thought to be of a prehistoric date.

Last April saw a geophysical survey undertaken, which suggested that this feature was most probably an Iron Age or Romano-British enclosure, with it being hexagonal in shape and including internal penannular features.

An archaeological evaluation identified that the enclosure was fairly substantial in size, and was therefore subject to a strip, map and record towards the end of the year. Despite there being limited artefactual remains; a collection of Romano-British ceramics, ceramic building materials, flint, glass and animal bones were all recovered at the site.

Catherine O’Doherty, Site Supervisor, said: “We have a possible small-scale settlement with round house-like features and boundary ditches which yielded limited finds of a Roman date. This is interesting as sites such as this are limited in West Yorkshire, making this site an exciting discovery.”

Environmental samples collected at the site are now being processed for the recovery of further artefacts and ecofacts – this is seen as a key step in potentially being able to date the evidence and assist in developing the general understanding around the purpose the enclosure once served.

Notes to Editors

TRU will bring passengers:

• More trains to choose from and more seats. Our improvements will enable more
trains to run between Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds and York with up to six fast
services every hour between Leeds and Manchester and up to two stopping
services for local connectivity.
• Faster journeys so you can travel to your favourite towns and cities more quickly.
Our fastest journey times are forecast to be 63-66 minutes between Manchester
and York and 41-42 minutes between Manchester and Leeds.
• More reliable journeys with trains that run on-time
• Better stations across the Transpennine route, bringing passengers a better travel
experience through improved, more accessible stations
• Greener travel, reducing our carbon footprint and improving air quality. Our plans
aim to save up to 87,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year – supporting the
government’s Net Zero objectives. We’re also developing a proposal to move more
goods by rail (up to 15 more freight trains each day.)
• Together, these freight trains are expected to remove over 1,000 lorries off the road each day.

TRU will bring local communities:

• Jobs for local people. Our workforce will be local, with 80% employment from
within a 40-mile radius of the route, and 60% employment from within a 25-mile
radius. With a current workforce of around 2000 people, we estimate that could
double over the course of the programme. We’ll employ an apprentice for every
£4million spent.
• Improved natural environments near the railway through 10% biodiversity net
gain across the route. This will create or enhance habitats for wildlife.
The multi-billion-pound Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) will bring this line into the
21st century with 70-miles of fully electric, digital railway. Our plans include:
• Electrifying the whole route between Manchester and York via Huddersfield and
• Installing a new digital signalling system along the Transpennine route

• Doubling the number of tracks from two to four between Huddersfield and
Westtown in Dewsbury.
• Station improvements along the route to enhance customer experience, comfort
and accessibility
• Improving the railway on diversionary routes to allow more trains to run, to help
keep passengers and freight moving while the core Transpennine route is closed to
deliver essential upgrades. This will provide capacity and reliability improvements
for future too.

Contact information

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Ewan Bayliss
Communications Executive
Network Rail

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