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Refugees get their hands dirty in the Dales

posted 15 Oct 2012, 06:54 by Paul Brayford   [ updated 1 Feb 2016, 15:13 ]
The refugees open their trench with care
Five refugees from Africa have been getting their hands dirty doing some excavation work in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The group teamed up with 30 amateur archaeologists and students working on a complex of medieval farm buildings in the Ingleborough area. The visit, spread over five days, was supported by Settle Quaker Meeting, who provided accommodation and hospitality, and was funded by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF), which is administered by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust. The SDF grant paid for much of the transport and food as well as providing boots, protective clothing and a lively introduction to the Dales and their history. 

The members of the refugee group – who either have leave to remain in the UK or are still in the process of seeking asylum – come from three African countries and are now living in the Blackburn area. 
The refugees open their trench with care

After some basic training they were assigned a trench covering what looked like the entrance to a farm enclosure and they were responsible for all aspects of the trench from de-turfing, through trowelling, photography and planning to back filling. The group was also introduced to some of the more technical aspects of surveying as these were being used – photography, the total station, geophysics and pole camera. 

Before arriving in England Samuel Yemane gained a degree in archaeology and worked in the National Museum in Eritrea. For Sam the experience brought back the joy and memories of his life in Africa. 

Dr David Johnson, who led the archaeological excavation, said: “They were good fun, good company, full of enthusiasm with a strong desire to learn and benefit from the experience, and jolly good workers to boot. I hope they will all be able to stay safely in Britain as I am certain they will seriously enrich our culture, like so many of the refugees of the past.” 

Although dating of the farm will have to wait several months for the post-excavation analysis, some sites excavated in the area have been ascribed to the centuries before the Norman Conquest.