The Wood Hall Moated Manor Project was conceived in the mid-1980s in discussions between North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) and the then Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB).
The moated site known as Wood Hall, Womersley (SE536 206), clearly marked as such on Ordnance Survey maps of the area, lay close to the southern boundary of the Gale Common Ash Disposal Facility and would be destroyed by its third stage, scheduled for the first decade of the twenty-first century. The CEGB had acquired the land known as Gale Common, plus Wood Hall Farm, in the 1960's as a waste disposal site for the ash produced by the coal-fired power stations at Eggborough and Ferrybridge.
The Wood Hall Moated Manor Project was conceived as a ten year excavation project with a further two years' funding for post-excavation. The intention was to undertake the total excavation of the site at Wood Hall ahead of its destruction; to survey and study in detail the landscape immediately surrounding it; and to put it into its national and regional context by a study of its hinterland, focused on the parish of Womersley. The Project was intended to be deeply rooted within the local community, involving local people and businesses; education and training at all levels was a major part of the project design. The participation of University Departments, particularly in the fields of research and the development of techniques, was actively encouraged from the outset.
The CEGB, later National Power plc, then Innogy, was the Project’s major sponsor from its beginning in 1987/88. The results of a two-year assessment programme (under the direction of David Heslop) were so promising that the Project continued on a rolling programme, reviewed every three years, from 1990 under the direction of Vivienne Metcalf. A total of eleven years’ excavation (including the assessment) was undertaken on approximately 3/5ths of the site. During this time the Project was administered by North Yorkshire County Council.
In October 1998, anticipating a shortfall in both time and funding for post-excavation work, responsibility for the Project was transferred to the Wood Hall Archaeological Trust Ltd, a charitable company, in order to facilitate fundraising and to allow more time for the preparation of the final publication.
This interim report has been published to mark the end of Innogy’s sponsorship of the Wood Hall Moated Manor Project, on March 31st 2001. The date of the final publication has not been set, as the post-excavation work, particularly the specialists’ reports, has not all been completed. It is hoped to issue the main publication volume as soon as possible.
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