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Time Team in the Yorkshire Dales

[Thursday 29 January 2009]

TV archaeologists have been busy in the Yorkshire Dales digging up history about the Settle Carlisle railway.

Presenter Tony Robinson and the Channel 4 Time Team spent three days with Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Senior Conservation Officer Robert White investigating the site of one of the construction camps set up to house the workers who built the railway.

we had very little knowledge of the actual process and the living conditions of the people who built it

Robert White - YNDPA

Their findings from the camp near Dent Station will be screened on Sunday (February 1) in a programme called ‘Blood, Sweat and Beers’.

The investigations centred on construction camp 2, which was a group of five huts that housed some of the workers and their families who built the Risehill Tunnel north of Dent Station – the second longest tunnel on the railway – between 1869 and 1875. Occupations recorded in the 1871 census included a carpenter, two blacksmiths and stone masons as well as railway miners.

“Although we know a little bit about the construction of the Settle Carlisle Railway, we had very little knowledge of the actual process and the living conditions of the people who built it,” Robert said.

“At Ribblehead we have had the camp surveyed and done some excavation but the site the Time Team looked at was the type we know very little about.

“The Risehill camp was on top of a hill in the middle of a peat bog. The excavations showed just how harsh their living conditions were and helped give an idea of the scale of the machinery that was used to help build the tunnel.”

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