Monday, 29 October 2012

Sructure excavated above the outcrop of the Cleveland dyke at Stainsby beck.

 I recently noticed old red brick sticking out of the clay in the banks of Stainsby beck, after a large collapse of the bank side, although this type of Archaeological work is not of great interest to me

I decided to excavate into the bank, but i was sure i was just digging into either dumped rubbish or an old drain.

After only a short while i began to think differently, firstly i realised the deposit the structure was buried under, was over a metre thick, was very hard packed brown clay containing only isolated small rounded pieces of basaltic andesite, no pebbles or rock of any other kind. 

Then i also noticed the bricks were hand made and had carefully worked Basaltic Andesite slabs sat on top of the bricks, these slabs must have been taken from the nearby outcrop of the Cleveland Dyke, and i know through personal experience that the rock is very difficult to work, who ever made the straight edges on these slabs must have worked very hard to shape them.

I then noticed the bricks sat directly on top of a separate blue stoneless clay layer.

I excavated about two metres into the structure, with no signes of it ending, it seems to be heading directly for the nearby exposure of the Cleveland Dyke.

I have no idea how old or indeed what this structure is, but find it very strange that its intact, and buried deep into a compact stoneless hard packed clay, that shows no signes of being disturbed. 

Note the straight edges on the slabs, large roots have disturbed some parts.

Above the blue clay the bricks sit on.

Above the spade shows how far Ive excavated in so far.


Again above the images show the straight edges that have been created on the slabs of Whinstone, also note the magnet stuck to slab in the pic above.

Tees Archaeology

I have recently been informed by Peter Row and Rachelle Graham of Tees Archaeology, that what ive uncovered is infact a 18th - 19th Century Culvert, it does look like a culvert, yet i can think of any reason for one being constructed here, ie its a deep beck location and the structure runs parallel with the beck, not across or into it !  Neither can i understand why the builders went to so much trouble to shape the straight edges on the very hard whinstone top slabs !?

Anothther visit to Stainsby beck

I  visited the site again on Sunday 9 of December, the banks of the beck had taken a battering from the recent flooding and were very unstable, i managed a pic shown below , not very good but it was getting dangerous to be there!  What i saw was a very large whinstone foundation, being uncovered below the drain? structure ive informed Peter Row of Tees Archaeology, and asked if he thought i should remove some of the structure, as it will soon be lost to the rising water and subsidence of the beck banks.

Further report regarding Human activity at Stainsby beck

I can now report that what i originally thought was a man made foundation below the culvert, is infact the northern edge of the Cleveland dyke, running north west.  It now seems certain that for what ever reason this culvert was constructed to run from the southern edge of the dyke to the northern edge, and in my view must be related to the large track i earlier descovered that runs from the top of the western valley bank, down to the southern edge of the Cleveland dyke outcrop, as ive previously stated, i can find no records of mining at this section of dyke, but think the activity i am now recording points towards substantial mining activity at some time in the past.

The large amounts of mined whinstone to be found in separate concentrations further upstream, ime not sure of, there has been a lot of pipeline work undertaken maybe dating back to the aerodrome, but mostly i imagine back in the 1970's for the then new Teeside industrial estate, and the whinstone concentrations in the western banks could be related to any of this work . ? But still must surly have been left over from the much earlier mining activity.
I can also report that i believe ive found at least two earth works one north of the Cleveland dyke and one south  that are about equal in distance from there respective side of the dyke outcrop, if ime right a 1 to 2  metre trench has been excavated in a circular manor that would have diverted beck water around the remaining mounds to re join the beck, the reason for this i have no idea yet. 


These images show one of the bricks with a scale

The clay the bricks are molded from is also attracted to a magnet, as shown in the image below.

I haven't been back for fresh samples, but i believe the surrounding clay is also magnetic i imagine the attraction has something to do with ground up material from the near by highly magnetic Basaltic Andesite of the Cleveland dyke. 
 The image above shows what i believe is where a wide track, that once lead down to the Cleveland Dyke exposure at Stainsby beck.

These images show what ime sure is rounded Basaltic Andesite ( Whinstone )  , these rounded pieces are the only objects I've found in the compact clays I've excavated here.

If ime right and this is Basaltic Andesite from the nearby Cleveland Dyke, its the most unstable samples I've ever come across, it can be easily crushed between my fingers.
Below the images shows the very strong magnetic attraction this material has to a none rare earth magnet.

I was recently given a paper by Peter Row of Tees Archaeology, in the paper it describes miners coming across rounded Whinstone ( Basaltic Andesite ) apparently these pieces are whats left of projectiles fired from parts of the dyke that broke the surface, 59 mya.