Bradford District contains a large number of significant archaeological sites, some of which are of international interest and many of which are of national or high regional importance. Bradford District falls into three land-use zones: upland, lowland and townscape. The upland zone comprises unenclosed moorland and enclosed rough pasture. The lowland zone roughly follows the lines of the area's watercourses and comprises improved enclosed pasture and other agricultural land, centred around scattered farmsteads. The townscape zone consists of all intensively settled land.
The little-disturbed upland landscape retains a large number of Prehistoric (Middle Stone Age to Iron Age) features. Many of the upstanding remains are designated as Scheduled Ancient Monuments. Known features include hundreds of carved rocks on the moorland above Ilkley, Keighley and Baildon. Other Prehistoric funerary/ritual sites survive here and elsewhere in the District. Settlement sites are also represented by a number of well-preserved earthworks. There are probably similar sites which now lack above-ground remains. Bradford District was crossed by a network of Roman roads, the true routes of which are not yet known in most instances. Currently unknown Roman sites may survive along the road lines. Medieval settlement in the uplands was scattered in small, dispersed settlements or farmsteads rather than discreet nucleated villages. Upstanding farm buildings, apparently of 18th- or 19th-century date, may have Medieval origins. Redundant farm buildings have been little studied, and represent a finite and diminishing building stock of archaeological interest. From the Medieval period onward, mineral deposits in the uplands have been extensively exploited, and well-preserved associated remains survive.
The lowlands also appear to contain Prehistoric settlement remains. Large finds of worked flint along the Aire corridor suggest the presence of Middle and New Stone Age campsites, while a few known Prehistoric settlements, numerous spot-finds of Bronze Age metalwork, and scattered Roman finds indicate that occupation continued into later periods. Most Medieval settlement took the form found in the uplands. A small number of sites were administrative centres for the surrounding area, and here a number of fine Late Medieval and Post-Medieval houses survive which may have associated below-ground remains. The site of a Medieval convent survives at Esholt and a number of granges (small agricultural/industrial sites owned by the Medieval church) survive in the District. Well-preserved industrial sites survive, including iron-working sites, pottery kilns and corn mills. Some Medieval settlement sites evolved over into prominent private estates after the mid-17th century. These were often furnished with significant landscaped grounds. Early water-powered industrial sites were also redeveloped in the 18th century and later. Many of the District's numerous textile mills retain late 18th/early 19th century features or contain evidence for the development of technology over the course of the 19th /20th centuries.
Most of the evidence for Roman occupation in Bradford District roughly coincides with the areas of modern settlement, with occupation along the Wharfe valley (the Roman fort and associated civilian settlement at Ilkley), through Bingley and into central Bradford. Occupation continued into the Early Medieval phase, with Anglo-Saxon remains apparently surviving within Addingham, Ilkley, and central Bradford. With a few exceptions (Keighley; Addingham, where a number of small settlement foci merged to form a single settlement; Bingley, where the available evidence suggests the possible presence of a castle; Ilkley, where settlement formed around the area of the Roman fort; Bradford, where settlement formed at a crossing point of Bradford Beck), Medieval settlement consisted of small, dispersed building groups lying along a network of roads and access tracks. Industrialisation and population growth during the 19th century led to ribbon development on these road lines which enveloped pre-existing settlements. This type of development can be traced in areas where the Late Medieval and Post-Medieval building stock survives and forms a settlement 'core'. In areas such as central Bradford where the 'core' of earlier buildings has not survived, the modern building stock may mask below-ground Medieval and Post-Medieval remains. Recent work in urban centres has made it clear that the effect of 19th/20th century cellarage on the below-ground archaeology has not been as severe as formerly believed, and that appreciable pockets of early material may survive in situ.
West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service - June 2005
This page is in the Researcher / Public section.
The other sections of our web site are aimed at:
|A Teacher.||A Historic Environment Professional.||A Developer.|