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Pat Carroll Memorial and Tribute

Pat Carroll, one of the founding members of the Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group and a leading figure in the study of the landscape and history of the Upper Wharfedale area in recent years and our current Chair died from Covid-19 on Wednesday 22nd April 2020 in Airedale Hospital.  She leaves her husband of fifty years, Phil.  She became ill soon after their anniversary on 6th April.

Pat was born in Horsforth and grew up in Guiseley and Baildon.  She went to Bingley Grammar School and later trained at Leeds Polytechnic where she specialised in Histology. In 2001 she took early retirement from her career as a Medical Laboratory Scientific Officer for the NHS.

Taking the opportunity to pursue an interest for many years in the landscape and people of the Dales, in retirement she and Phil enrolled on a course in British Archaeology at Leeds University run by Roger Martlew through the School of Continuing Education.  When the university closed the department in 2005, Pat and others from the course determined to continue the research they were enjoying by founding the Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group, with the guidance of Roger. Over the years, Pat took many leading roles in the Group, acting as Secretary, Treasurer and Chair on several occasions and was always a motivating and practical presence in a wide range of activities from winter meetings to summer walks and of course field investigations. The group owes a great deal to her enthusiasm, determination and encouragement.

Pat joined in practical archaeology and field survey projects, first at Kingdale on a project led by David Johnson of the Ingleborough Archaeology Group.  Over the years, together with Phil, Pat worked with David on over seventeen archaeology projects and a great number of other projects with UWHG, leading, inspiring or co-ordinating others.  On the “Stories in Stone” landscape project at Thorns near Ribblehead, Pat led a group measuring and mapping the walls over a large area, as she was known as a skilled surveyor.  Even though she had learned these skills by undertaking all sorts of surveys, she was always generous with her time to teach what she knew to others.  Her patience and her attention to detail set a high standard for an organisation formed of interested amateurs and her work, especially her measured surveys and wonderful drawings of traditional farm buildings will form part of the permanent record of the area in the Historic Environment Record of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.


Other projects included several seasons digging as a key member of the international teams working on the long-term research project investigating of Chapel House Wood between Kilnsey and Threshfield. which had started through the School of Continuing Education.  Many members will remember this and the UWHG’s own projects, recording the landscape at Whitfield Syke Mill near Embsay and in the vernacular building surveys that Pat carried out and coordinated in Upper Wharfedale.

The Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group started as an interest group with a distinctly practical bent but many people are interested in the traditional life of the Dales and its changing economic environment over centuries from the prehistoric period through medieval Monastic Period to the modern post-war period.  The group soon grew at least in part due to Pat’s enthusiasm, commitment and capacity for organisation.


Always keen to spread the word about the Dales’ historical background, Pat and Phil organised speakers for winter lectures held in Skipton’s Soroptimist Rooms and produced the displays of the Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group’s findings at Long Ashes near Threshfield to celebrate the annual Festival of British Archaeology over twelve years on a wide variety of  subjects such as the remains of lime kilns in the Kilnsey area, Threshfield Quarry, the investigation into Whitfield Syke, a cotton mill that once stood on the site of Embsay Reservoir, Arncliffe in the Anglo-Saxon period, a study of the area around Long Ashes itself, and a detailed scientific study of the age of timbers in many of the buildings of Kilnsey.   Pat herself had been an important part of each of these studies and really enjoyed sharing what she had learned.  The two displays:   “Boskins, Booses and Barns” and the follow-up in 2013 “Centuries of Cows and Carts” are parts of a particular favourite theme for Pat of how in the past field barns, cattle and the fields themselves functioned in careful harmony throughout the year.


Pat co-ordinated the Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group’s work to research and record the history of traditional farm buildings in Kettlewell and Starbotton.  She organised several teams for the fieldwork over three years 2011 to 2013.  The aim was to properly record the large number and variety of traditional farm buildings that reflected an earlier farming method in that area before dilapidation and change of use erased that record for ever.  It was thought that many of the buildings, especially the field barns, had a much earlier origin than many people thought. 


Evidence was found that many of the field barns had been rebuilt several times - sometimes they had begun life centuries ago as cruck barns with steep, low hanging roofs - later heightened and sometimes extended into the form we can still see today. 


Pat was the driving force for this project, and the coordinator.  She organised working parties to visit and photograph 213 sites, collated from visual and documentary evidence and the knowledge of the local farming community.  135 sites were fully surveyed.  These included barns, stables, cart sheds, sheep dips, a coach house, a game hanging shed, loose boxes, kennels and much else.  As these buildings are on private land, Pat had to form close and friendly relations with farmers and land-owners up and down Upper Wharfedale to obtain permission for the visits.

Most recently, Pat had been working on a major survey of the remains of the lead and coal mining industries in the Dales.  The numerous sites and remaining traces of buildings and the marks on the landscape which reveal the working methods of the miners of the past are mainly on private land, and Pat’s experience ensured that full permission was gained before the recording team visited the sites.


Completely untroubled by physical inconvenience, at the beginning of March this year, Pat made a trip underground to see a lead mine at Gillfield near Greenhow with the research group and the week after was undertaking a detailed survey of a mine building in wind-driven rain in Mossdale.    


Pat’s legacy is a significant contribution to our knowledge of the history of the people of the Dales and how the landscape continues to reveal evidence of lives lived in our area. 

That the Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group continues to prosper is also testament to her enthusiasm.  The results of her work and the other research work and investigations are published on this website.

From Vera Brearey:


Some of my fondest memories of Pat are time spent with her and Phil surveying traditional farm buildings in Kettlewell and Starbotton in 2011 and 2012.  The three of us formed Team 3 (I think there were four or five teams in total) and we met every week for a day in the valley.


Typically we’d meet at the Trout Farm for a morning coffee, then head off to record some buildings - access arranged with the farmers in advance of course.  We'd take a packed lunch and often repair back to the Trout Farm for tea and cake in the late afternoon.  In between eating (!) we'd survey maybe two buildings, perhaps three if they were ruinous.  

We learnt a lot.  I've never since been able to pass a field barn on a walk without peering at it for signs of an earlier life, maybe as a cruck barn with steeply sloping roof.  We laughed a lot too.  We learnt what farmers store in their barns today - quite a lot of modern machinery of course but also sometimes things we weren’t expecting, like a dozen scarecrows ready for the annual festival.  We climbed carefully over all of this, looking for, and often finding, traces of beautifully built timber or slate cattle stalls from an earlier time. 

Vera 2.jpg

We braved all weathers.  We couldn’t visit the field barns in the growing season (so as not to trample the hay crop) so there were lots of visits on chilly days, when a flask of hot coffee was essential fuel.  We sheltered from the rain.  We clambered through snow.  We tramped the hills looking for traces of mysterious OS map squiggles that "might" have been farm buildings.  We had a truly great time.  


Thanks for the memories, Pat.

Vera 1.jpg

From Roger Martlew:


In retirement Pat and Phil, always a team, developed their interest in archaeology through courses at the University of Leeds and in Skipton, run by the School of Continuing Education. For many years they were key members of the international teams working on the long-term research project at Chapel House Wood, between Kilnsey and Threshfield, which had started through the School of Continuing Education. When the university closed the department in 2005 they stepped forward as founding members of the Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group in order to continue an active involvement in the investigation of the historic landscape of the Yorkshire Dales.

Pat always set herself high standards, and the skill and experience that she developed made her an invaluable member of survey and excavation teams on a variety of projects in Upper Wharfedale and the Ingleborough area. This is exemplified in the UWHG’s own projects, recording the landscape at Whitfield Syke Mill near Embsay and in the vernacular building surveys that Pat carried out and coordinated in Upper Wharfedale.


In this regard, Pat’s legacy and professionalism survive in the Historic Environment Record of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, where they will contribute to the management, conservation and understanding of the Dales landscape for many years to come.

From David Johnson:

I first met Pat (and Phil) on a major excavation in Kingsdale near Ingleton in 2005, the same year that they helped launch the Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group (UWHG). That dig had a large cohort of volunteers, some old hands, others new to Ingleborough Archaeology Group’s (IAG) practical activities. Pat and Phil were, at that time, just two more diggers many of whom one never saw again. Little did I know then that it was to be the start of a long and fruitful relationship. Since then I have run at least seventeen excavation and archaeological surveying projects (with different hats on) that Pat (and Phil) attended, ranging from Anglo-Saxon settlements  through medieval features to early modern structures like a communal bread oven, a corn drying kiln and an early lime kiln.


For each project I always put out a call to arms for volunteers. On my mental longlist there are some folk who I hope do not respond, others who I am happy to have along, and a shortlist of people who I really hope will come forward. Pat was always on that shortlist. Whenever I received an email from Phil saying they both wanted to join in, I was invariably delighted. Why? Because I knew, from that first dig in 2005, that she was committed, worked in a totally professional way, always had the right equipment (in her wonderful toolbox which was far tidier than mine ever is), and was fully co-operative. She knew what had to be done, and what should not be done, but always waited for ‘instructions’ and I was content to leave them to it because I knew they were fully competent and would work in a professional manner. For one recent landscape-scale project, at Thorns near Ribblehead, I wanted all the field walls surveyed and I asked for a volunteer team leader to run that element. I hoped – and quietly knew – that Pat (and Phil) would come forward and I was delighted that they did. The standard of work produced in the field and in the analysis and interpretation afterwards was exemplary ... as I knew it would be.


Over the past fifteen years of working together Pat has displayed a keen eye for detail, for identifying lumps and bumps in the landscape, for using her keen analytical skills to decipher what she was looking at on the ground, and for employing her considerable knowledge base in both the history of landscapes and the archaeology. She was meticulous in her planning, thorough and neat in what she produced by way of post-fieldwork.


Beyond all this, over the years I came to see Pat (and Phil) as friends. I was deeply saddened when she lost the battle against COVID-19 and I say, with no exaggeration, that I shall miss her but never forget her. UWHG and IAG are the poorer for her demise. So am I.  

From Jane Lunnon:

Pat’s influence on UHWG has been extraordinary. She leaves behind a strong and lasting legacy of commitment to high standards and a consistently professional approach which has become such a mainstay of UWHG’s work. Many members of the group owe her a great debt and we should always continue to strive for that same commitment, attention to detail and enthusiasm for heritage work that she encouraged all of us to emulate. Looking back at the photographs of Pat as she worked on a huge variety of projects, it was lovely to be reminded how often she laughed, reflecting the pleasure she got from practical archaeology.

Jane Lunnon

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