Several stack stands are visible in this aerial view of the site near Floshes Hill. Photo: Robert White/YDNPA

Several stack stands are visible in this aerial view of the site near Floshes Hill. Photo: Robert White/YDNPA

A team of archaeologists is trying to get to the bottom of a series of mysterious earthworks in the Yorkshire Dales.

A two-week excavation will begin on Monday at the site of the ‘stack stands’ near Hawes in Wensleydale.

Members of the community will join Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority staff in surveying the works near Floshes Hill, north of the village.

The stack stands are earthwork platforms in meadows that are thought to have been used to store hay. It has been suggested they might precede the building of field barns. There are several of the structures in the area.

A training event for the survey took place earlier this week. The excavation is part of a project looking at Wensleydale’s dairy heritage and is one strand of Dairy Days, a two-year scheme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Douglas Mitcham, community heritage officer, said: “Stack stands are poorly understood features of the post-medieval landscape.

“Very few have been subject to detailed survey work and there is a particular concentration of them in upper Wensleydale. We are really excited about what we are going to find out.

“It’s not too late to volunteer to join in the excavation.”

People learn how to use the 'plane table method' to survey a stack stand near Floshes Hill. Photo: YDNPA

People learn how to use the 'plane table method' to survey a stack stand near Floshes Hill. Photo: YDNPA

Karen Griffiths, Dairy Days project manager, said: “Stack stands are simple structures, yet mysterious.

“They are typically rectangular enclosures formed by a ditch and bank. Dozens of them can be seen clearly on and around Floshes Hill.

“We do not know for certain why they were built or what they were used for. Together with members of the community we are going to try to shed light on dairy farming practices in an age before all the field barns and drystone walls came along.”

An open day is being held next on 18 September in Askrigg Village Hall, where the latest research and stories will be revealed. People are being invited to bring along old photos and dairying objects to add to those that have already emerged in the first five months of the project.

Ms Griffiths said: “There will be a lot to share at the open day in Askrigg – so please do consider attending.”

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