The initial impetus for the project was the discovery of a prehistoric ring cairn in the upper reaches of the Duddon Valley, the desire to understand more about its origin and purpose, and the need to explore whether there were other related sites in the vicinity. This motivation led to a discussion and a verbal contract between the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) and the Duddon Valley Local History Group (DVLHG).
The main objectives were:
- To make a significant increase in the knowledge and understanding of the historic environment in the Duddon Valley among a wide audience
- To stimulate active participation in the research and interpretation of the historic environment
- To provide educational benefits and a documented historic environment resource produced through the project
- To encourage effective management of the historic environment
- To provide a firm basis for local participation and ownership of the historic environment
Both were fired by the excitement of discovery and the wish to learn more. From the DVLHG perspective this was an opportunity to get to grips with some real field work on their ‘own patch’, and to explore in more depth some of the things that they were aware of on the fells but of which little was recorded. The project proposal was slowly put together, with the debate majoring on our main objectives which were to look in more depth at previously un-surveyed land and for the group to be involved in an archaeological dig.
As discussion progressed with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) officials we gradually understood that our desires were only a vehicle for attaining what they saw as the real objectives; the true value would not just be in the activity but what it would produce of a long-term nature and how it would benefit the community as a whole as well as those who took part. Not only would there be tangible benefits such as the greatly enhanced Lake District Historic Environment Record that would be invaluable to LDNPA officers and farmers alike, but there would also be a continuing capability in the form of the project team – now well trained and skilled – who would go on discovering new things over time with further survey and research.
All the people involved will remember the friends they have made and the journey taken together through the different stages of the project, the laughs and the learning, and the incredible landscape that formed the backdrop. It is proof of the foresight of those HLF officials that most of those who have participated in the project are keen to continue, and the most frequently asked question as we conclude our initial work is, ‘what next?’ Also, a positive development is that local farmers are fast understanding that if recorded and managed in the right way, the sites would potentially enhance their income under agri-environment grant schemes.
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