What we do

Participants on a course run by the Trust   Friends are brought up to date on recent work

Archaeological investigation on site   Shoes found in the Medicine House roof space

Working on the herb garden   Conducting visitors around Blackden

 

 

The Blackden Trust offers a range of experiences.  We publish reports on most activities including courses, projects and visits but below you will find examples of activities by the Blackden Trust. You can also follow the tabs on the main menu under 'What we do' to see a fuller list of reports on each type of event.

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Examples of events presented by The Blackden Trust

Science in Archaeology

Tutors: Professor Robert Cywinski, Professor Susan Kilcoyne

Working on various practical experiments

Working on various practical experiments  


Bob Cywinski started the day by introducing us to the advanced scientific techniques that are now an integral part of archaeological investigation. He showed us how the broad range of scientific methods now available, such as resistivity, ground penetrating radar, magnetometry and metal detecting can help us piece together and understand the often fragmentary evidence the past has left for us to decipher. He outlined the strengths and weaknesses of the different techniques and discussed the need to correlate the results of several investigative techniques of any site to get a fuller picture of its story. He also introduced us to exciting techniques that have only recently been adopted by archaeologists. These techniques use beams of exotic sub-atomic particles to probe deeply within objects, revealing the finest details of their inner structure and provide unique information on their origin, composition, manufacture, use, and even their authenticity. He showed us how future scientific developments will expand the essential role that science now plays in the finding and interpretation of archaeology.

We then had a chance work on practical experiments in some of the techniques, including a laser scanner that recorded objects in minute detail. With a mini resistivity meter, we surveyed a mini site of sand in a plastic trough, in which objects with varying resistivity had been buried. When the data was logged into a program to convert the data into a diagram, which would indicate where the objects were buried, it gave results that were extremely close to those of a full-scale resistivity meter.

Having learnt how they worked, we used metal detectors to survey an area of disturbed the soil, where a variety of metal objects of had previously been placed. Some were found, others were not, and more objects that had not been buried, but were lurking in the soil, were found.

'A very interesting and informative course. It was fascinating to learn about new technology.'

'Although I had used some of the equipment during my degree course, this is the first time I have understood the science behind it.'

'A fascinating day. Thank you.'

Uploading data

Uploading data
 

Working on the mini site

Working on the mini site
 

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Creative Writing Day for Gifted and Talented students

Thinking out a riddle

Thinking out a riddle

Two students, from each of six local schools in the Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School Primary Cluster, were selected to attend a day of research and creative writing at The Blackden Trust.  The course was led by Elizabeth Garner, who is the second published writer to be nurtured by Blackden.

The day was designed to immerse the students in the process of writing and in the very special atmosphere of the ancient site and houses at Blackden.   The students were presented with historical and architectural objects and given the challenge of finding out how and where they were used.  They also searched the garden to match up puzzle images to features on the site. With these impressions in their minds, Elizabeth then led the students through the demands of riddle-writing and demonstrated how to structure a story.  The students wrote riddles and stories and left stimulated: time will tell if yet another writer emerges from Blackden.

Click the link to find the riddles written by students from Chelford Primary School, Goostrey Primary School, the Hermitage Primary School, Holmes Chapel Primary School, Lower Peover Primary School and Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School.

Help with writing a story

Help with writing a story

Collaborating on a story

Collaborating on a story

Checking that the object matches the image

Checking that the object matches the image

A mystery image identified

A mystery image identified

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Interim report on Archaeological Training excavation at Blackden in 2011

Directors Dr Mark Roberts, Professor Richard Morris

Opening a trench

Opening a trench

A third season of excavations to characterise, date and explain traces of former outbuildings took place in August 2011.

In 2009 a small excavation successfully located a long building which partly lay within the present site and ran into the adjoining field, historically known as Barn Croft. This building is known to have existed by 1789 and was gone by 1900. In 2010 the area of study was extended with results summarised on this website.

In 2011 the substructure of the building was further examined. The building had been thoroughly robbed at the time of its abandonment and has since been heavily disturbed by ploughing. Nonetheless it is possible to see that it was largely timber-built, with substructures variously formed of dry-laid stone blocks, rammed brick and clay. Subsidiary structures stood against and within the main building, part of which had had a close-fitting stone-flagged floor.

The building emerges

The building emerges

Demolition debris suggests that the original building carried a thackstone roof; analysis and quantification of brick fragments points to their local manufacture linked with different episodes of modification or repair. The presence of cullet, fragments of window glass and lead calmes implies recycling on or near the site. Finds included pieces of slate lined out for writing, 17th- to early 20th-century ceramics, whetstones, and a small amount of worked flint.

The 2011 campaign also examined a length of a trackway that ran alongside the barn. The track ran out of the southern corner of the former farm complex and aligned with a former field boundary that appears on air photographs as a crop mark continuing south-east of the railway. Excavation found the track to have followed a ditch cut into interleaved fluvioglacial deposits of sand and clay. The ditch formed part of the surrounding system of field boundaries that is visible on 18th/19th-century maps. The origin of this system is uncertain, but we can see that it existed before the end of the Middle Ages.

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Open Days

A tour of the garden

A tour of the garden

There was a range of activities to give visitors a taste of the variety of opportunities offered by The Blackden Trust: demonstrations of Tudor herbs and spices; period music played on instruments of the time; artefacts relating to the house and site to be puzzled over; a taste of archaeological skills in the washing and dating of pottery sherds found in the garden and surrounding fields; a chance to buy replica pottery based on those sherds; tours of the Old Medicine House and garden; and tea and cakes in the marquee.

Some comments from our visitors:

'Incredible! I love the cosy feel of a still used and loved home.'

'Excellent tour. Very friendly. Brilliant cakes!'

'Wonderful. Fascinating experience.'

'Superb experience -- hope to return for a course.'

'This is a wonderful magical place. Thank you for sharing it.'

Identifying artefacts

Identifying artefacts
 

Tea and cakes in the marquee

Tea and cakes in the marquee
 

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"Up Them Fields", and What was Found There

The Riches of Blackden

Alan Garner

Alan Garner signing books

Alan Garner signing books


In his talk at the Methodist Church in Holmes Chapel, Alan Garner told the audience how, in 1957, he discovered the house in Blackden that has been his home for over fifty years; and where all his books have been written.

He told stories of the people who had lived in the place before him; stories he had gleaned from documents and from objects, going back to the last ice age, that had been found in the garden; and most important, because they are so easily lost, the stories that he had been told by more recent inhabitants. Riches like this were too precious to be left to chance, he told his audience, and so he had founded The Blackden Trust: an educational charity to look after the site for the public benefit.

Alan Garner described how work for new drains in 1971 had produced charcoal and burned bone. Analysis by English Heritage' s Ancient Monuments Laboratory had confirmed that the cremation was human. Radiocarbon dating of the charcoal has since shown that the pyre was lit between 3,700 and 3,900 years ago; confirming that the cremation dates from the Early Bronze Age.

After the talk, Alan Garner signed books while the audience enjoyed home made refreshments.

The event was organised by The Friends of The Blackden Trust to launch the 2012 season of public events.

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Friends' and Benefactors' Day

Alan Garner and Chris Lynch unwrapping Chris's gift to the Trust

Alan Garner and Chris Lynch unwrapping Chris's gift to the Trust  


This is an event that is developing an atmosphere all of its own.

We create displays of our activities for the event; and give tours of the archaeological training excavation and the shop is opened so people can buy John Hudson' s replica pottery based on the sherds that we have found in the garden.

This year we also made the presentation of the Eric Morten Award for the young person who we judged to have gained the most from the Trust and who, over the last three years, had passed the most on to others. The inaugural winner was Jenny Reddish, now in her second year of an Archaeology and Anthropology degree at Magdalen College, Oxford.

'The Blackden Trust has played an extremely important role in nurturing my academic interests. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in archaeology and history: it provides a unique space to think about new ideas and an excellent group of people to think about them with!

'I didn't know Eric Morten, but from what I hear he had a similar knack for recognising and kindling the interests of young people. He picked out books for them, sold them at reduced rates and even gave them the books they needed for their careers.

'I am delighted, then, to receive this award in commemoration of him, and hope that young people continue to benefit from the intellectual nourishment provided by people like Eric and all at the Blackden Trust.'

Then unplanned and unexpected, Chris Lynch, one of our benefactors, gave The Blackden Trust a very special gift: two Minton tiles designed by Christopher Dresser. The design of the tiles includes motifs found in the pattern of the plates that were the catalyst of Alan Garner' s novel, The Owl Service. This generous donation epitomised the atmosphere of warmth and good will that was generated among all those present.

Jenny Reddish accepting her award

Jenny Reddish accepting her award
 

Richard Morris presenting the Eric Morten Award

Richard Morris presenting the Eric Morten Award
 

A student explaining what the excavation has revealed

A student explaining what the excavation has revealed

John Hudson identifying and dating pottery sherds found in the garden of a Friend of The Blackden Trust

John Hudson identifying and dating pottery sherds found in the garden of a Friend of The Blackden Trust

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Antiques Road Trip at the Old Medicine House

Jonathan Pratt and the red MG at Blackden

Jonathan Pratt and the red MG at Blackden

Jonathan Pratt and his red MG visited the Old Medicine House as part of his journey through Cheshire. Griselda Garner described how the Old Medicine House had been dismantled at its original site in Wrinehill and how it was repaired in Holmes Chapel before it was re-assembled at Blackden. She showed Jonathan the artefacts that were found within the fabric of the house and those found in the garden and surrounding fields. Sue Hughes talked to him about the genesis of our herb collection and how herbs were used at the time that the house was originally built.

We were a part of Episode 21 of Series 3 that was transmitted on 10th October 2011.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b015ynfd

Griselda showing Jonathan the timber chimney

Griselda showing Jonathan the timber chimney
 

Sue showing Jonathan the herb collection

Sue showing Jonathan the herb collection
 

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Printed on: 25 Apr 2017

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