Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Journal (1900) - Excavations on the Site of Almondbury Castle
Reproduced from Volume 15 of the Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Journal.
EXCAVATIONS ON THE SITE OF ALMONDBURY CASTLE.
By S. J. CHADWICK, F.S.A.
In digging the foundations of the Victoria Jubilee Tower, which is about to be erected on the site of the "Castle" on Almondbury Castle Hill, near Huddersfield, some interesting discoveries have been made which may help to settle some doubtful questions. In the north-eastern part of the castle area a shaft, five feet six inches square, has been found, and when visited on the 7th May by some members of our Council, in company with Mr. F.W. Beadon, the agent of Sir J.W. Ramsden, it had been cleared to a depth of thirty-three feet, and found to be sunk through the "rag" stone, and not walled. It is supposed to have been a well for the supply of the castle, and to go down to the water level of existing wells on the north and south sides of the hill, i.e., to a depth of about 120 feet from the surface or castle area. The material excavated had been piled round the mouth of the shaft, and formed a level platform of about eight feet in height. Forming a sort of base for this soil, and immediately above the natural surface of the ground, are two, and on one part, three courses of loose undressed stone, which have probably come out of the shaft, and are too loosely placed to form a pavement. Two courses extend over the entire area in a sort of herring-bone arrangement, divided by a few inches of soil or debris. The third (or partial) course lies under the herring-bone courses on the north side of the shaft. It is difficult to suggest a reason for these layers or courses of stone.
In clearing out the shaft, ten dressed stones of different sizes were found, of which two of the largest measure roughly about two feet six inches in each dimension, and have evidently formed parts of a door and a window. Another stone was the small keystone of an arch, and another is shaped as if it had formed part of an arch. Some small stones showed signs of fire, and a large lump of brick and cement was found, fused together by fire. A large quantity of bones has been brought out of the shaft, and carefully preserved for examination by experts. About twenty feet down the shaft are two irregular shapeless holes in the north and south sides facing each other, about two feet in diameter, and from two to three feet in depth from front to back. The discoveries tend to prove that there has been a substantial building of brick and stone on the hill, and it is very desirable to take advantage of the workpeople being on the hill to dig cross sections, in the hope of finding foundations and other remains ; and particularly the ditches and banks should be cut through, so as to recover original sections, and also on the chance of finding remains of timber palisading or walls. Castle Hill was visited by the Society on the 28th August, 1867, under the guidance of Mr. Thos. Brooke, then as now their president.