Malham Chapel Dig 2015

In 2015, using the documentary sources and archaeological surveys, Mark Roberts of University College London and his undergraduate students commenced a dig to establish whether a two-cell structure that had been identified was a potential chapel.  Four trenches were dug: across the eastern wall  and the southern entrance of the building; across the boundary wall of the enclosure, and across one of the lynchets outside the western precinct.


Much of the documentary evidence relating to the chapel’s destruction was confirmed.[i] The surveys had indicated possible wall tumble and this was found to be the case, especially from the eastern wall, caused by the lead roof and timbers having been removed. No dressed stone was recovered suggesting that it had all been taken from the site for recycling. A pit showing evidence of burning was discovered in the nave and excavated; this had been used to melt the lead from the roof and windows to facilitate transport from the site. Pottery sherds were found. The majority of these were in the trench across the southern entrance to the chapel.  They dated from between the eleventh to the sixteenth centuries.  Other finds included animal bones, lead nails, lead window cames, mortar and painted plaster,  and a slate amulet.


UCL archaeologist Mark Roberts excavating the southern entrance to the chapel.


The excavated pit in which the lead was melted.


The southern entrance to the chapel.


The foundations of southern wall of the cemetery precinct were uncovered raising the question as to whether it had been a dry-stone wall boundary or a dyke structure.


Some of the pottery sherds found in the chapel.


Fragments of lead from the roof.