ELHAS Meeting Report - November 2009

Just under fifty members and guests attended the final meeting of this year's programme to hear an illustrated talk by Martin Lightfoot about the 2006 excavations at Scholes Lodge Farm. Martin was senior project manager on the excavation and co- wrote the subsequent excavation report. He is an experienced archaeologist who enjoys working in the open air, and revels in the excitement of unearthing unusual artefacts. He studied at Nottingham University and has worked as an archaeologist for over twenty years.

He began his talk by showing an aerial photograph of where the dig took place, thus allowing the audience to picture the site in relation to Cross Gates and Scholes village. For many of us it was particularly interesting to see the work which had taken place virtually on our doorsteps. The dig uncovered two significant buildings one medieval and one post medieval, which it is believed were connected with the former manor house and dry moat just north of the site. They were only able to find a solitary nail from the construction of an 11th century building which lead to the belief that the medieval building was constructed of organic materials such as wattle and daub. Totally unexpected however was the finding of a sherd of roman pottery since there was no other evidence of occupation on this site in roman times.

The post medieval building was built of brick, and artefacts found suggested it was used for dairy farming. From the late 18th to the early 19th century there was also the possibility of a small steam engine being housed there, possibly to power a threshing machine. However the most bizarre find was four horse's hooves placed in a straight line within the foundations. Martin said no one had come across anything like this before and there is no knowledge in folk lore or any where else of superstitions associated with horse's hooves. Other finds included a glass bead and a copper button from the 18th century. The earliest finds from the site were artefacts from the bronze age, proving the existence of some kind of human activity on the site between 3300 and 1200bc.

Martin's knowledge of his subject and informative and interesting delivery resulted in many questions from the audience about archaeology in general and the dig in particular. There was a general feeling from the audience that a great deal more could be learned if the rest of the site could be excavated, but Martin said that unfortunately this would prove impractical for several reasons. Nevertheless, his interesting and informative talk shed some light on the historical background to this particular area of Scholes, and the unusual land formations on the left hand side of the road, just before the Coronation Tree junction. The meeting closed with tea/coffee and mince pies in celebration of the coming festive season.

The next meeting will be on Monday 25th January 2010 when Keith Barber will bring us a nostalgic visit to old Leeds with photographs from the 40's, 50's and 60's.