Big Dig Follow-up – Finds Workshop

Thanks to all the hard work of the project volunteers we have now excavated seven test pits in the town and recovered several bags of finds from various locations around Appleby-in-Westmorland. These finds include a significant assemblage of medieval and later pottery, along with various other items, which all needs washing, cataloguing and studying by a finds expert, in order to include the results in our Dig Appleby report.

We are therefore holding a Finds Workshop on Saturday 22nd October which will include a short presentation on medieval pottery, followed by finds washing and identification, with the help of a finds specialist from Wardell Armstrong Archaeology.

The workshop will be held from 9:30am to 12:30pm upstairs in the Bennett Room at the Appleby Hub on Chapel Street (previously Centre 67). Tea & Coffee will be available. If you have any special needs please let us know.

NB: Places are limited, so if you wish to take part please send an email to with your name(s) and a contact number in order to book a place.

The address for the workshop is: Appleby Hub, Chapel Street, Appleby, Cumbria, CA16 6QR. There is ample parking in the adjacent car park (charges may apply).

Big Dig Weekend Access

This weekend’s activities will be spread across a number of locations within and around Appleby.

Everybody who has signed up will already  know where and when they are expected. But if you just want to come along and see what is happening you should start at the St Anne’s Almshouses at the top of Boroughgate (near the main castle entrance). There will be someone there to direct you and provide more information.

Document Transcription Training

Twelve brave souls decided to do some training and have a go at reading and transcribing some very old documents as part of our Dig Appleby project.

Most did not know what to expect but rose to the challenge and all enjoyed the sessions – even though it was not as straightforward as some had imagined and it initially appeared quite daunting; it was definitely a day for head-scratching and for being prepared to interpret some rather bizarre spellings….

Most of the documents were from the 15th – 17th centuries and the range and style of handwriting was quirky to say the least – it became clear that some words jumped out as being easily read while others left everyone baffled.

People were introduced to some basic abbreviations and symbols used by the scribes, odd-looking capital letters, unusual or non-existent punctuation and elaborate curves designed to confuse readers into thinking they were actual words. The example below may give you an idea of what we were up against.



At first there were more gaps and omissions than transcribed words but by the end of each session people were beginning to “get their eye” in and begin to make sense of what they were reading.

Despite going home with a headache at the end several keen participants are doing another training session where they will get seriously to grips with an Indenture from the 1500s!