Community dig unearths the hidden stories of Hudswell

The Hudswell Community Charity (HCC) was awarded a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £6,430 for their “Origins of Hudswell Project”.

The trustees of the HCC thank the people who play the National Lottery each week for providing the funding for their project.

Hudswell is a small village in North Yorkshire with a long history dating back, at least to Norman times. The project is to investigate, celebrate, and share the history of former St Michael and All Angels and its predecessor churches in Hudswell, through a community archaeology dig that took place in July 2023.

The origins of Hudswell Project will pay for a community led archaeological dig on land that the charity recently acquired from the Church Commissioners. The land lies in front of the currently disused church of St Michael and All Angels in Hudswell.

Hudswell is a very old settlement, recorded in the Domesday Book (completed in 1086). The current church, built in 1885, was at least the second and possibly the third church on this site. However, very little is known about the earlier churches and why they were built where they are, some distance from the current village centre, and little about the early history of the village.

Two professional archaeologists who live in Hudswell are leading the project (in a voluntary capacity) and they have recruited a large team of volunteers including many of the children from the village, who will be involved in the dig. The archaeologists have used aerial photography and other methods to identify a site of interest in front of the church that they think may reveal clues about earlier churches or other building that once stood there. It is hoped that the project will help local people to understand more about the distant origins of Hudswell. These findings will be recorded and displayed on the site and/or within the restored church once it opens as a hostel.

As a precursor to this project, several villagers met at the churchyard on a recent Saturday afternoon to conduct a gravestone survey. This helps paint a picture of the community over the last 300 years, as the gravestones date back to the mid-1700s.

Heather Swettenham one of the Charity trustees who also, participated in the graveyard survey said “It was lovely to see so many villagers and several children too, all interested to find out more about the history of our village”.