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The Sagars of Catlow - 1885
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Author:  BJ [ Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Sagars of Catlow - 1885

It's always good practice to question the archaeology and I can see where Andrew is coming from.

However, a couple of things seem to me to preclude the area north of Catlow Beck as the mill site - I looked at this spot when surveying the area and concluded that raising a water supply to the site would have involved a massive weir and leat structure upstream. The associated hydraulic system would have left an indelible presence in the landscape but this is not evident. In short, the topography here indicates that this was unlikely to have been a water site.

The worked stone in Catlow Beck below the weir could be from the number of engineering works carried out over the years on the weir and stream embankment.

The mill site is described in the original Gazette report as 'standing on the north bank of the stream in Catlow Bottoms, a few yards below the weir, close to the ford leading from Catlow to Stoney Raikes'. The building we excavated does indeed stand on the north side of the stream from Burwains - this stream suggests a classic rural mill site as it led from the hillside above and over the weir (now the road) to drive the wheel below.

We had, then, in the 18th/19thc two weirs (fords) at Catlow - the one we now know as the main ford and the smaller weir back towards Stoney Raikes. The excavated site was indeed a few yards below the weir.

Further, as Dave rightly points out, the mill was said to have been converted to cottages and this is confirmed by the tithe apportionment where Sagar rents the cottages to his quarry workers in the later 19th c.

The strip of land that Andrew describes north of Catlow Beck is interesting as it doesn't conform to the expected boundaries. I suggest that this was land exchanged at some stage between Folds House and the Sagars so that the latter could erect the mill at the bottom of the Burwains stream?

Returning to the site we excavated - we found that the proposed mill building covered the classic footprint of a fulling mill - there is an apparent water wheel tailrace built into the proposed wheel house. However, because we could not excavate the wheel house section of the building (as this would destabilise the road above) we found no firm mechanical evidence for the building having been a mill.

Furthermore, the low volume of water now feeding the site would preclude any meaningful industrial use here - there was not enough power to run fulling machinery. I showed the county archaelogist around the site and we both agreed that the one missing piece of firm evidence for this having been a mill was a reservoir site or other water system that would have increased the volume of the Burwains stream.

I have scoured the immediate area above the site, up to Burwains Farm, and can see little evidence for a secondary water supply. However, casting the net wider I think that I might have solved the puzzle. A head of water once rose on Shuttleworth Pasture around half a mile east of Burwains Farm - I think that this was harnessed within a leat that ran down by Higher Simm and into the Burwains stream at the farm (this can be followed as a ditched field boundary).

There is also evidence that a stream from Folds House diverted into the Burwains stream. Other streams might also have been picked up from the high ground and, eventually, the combined flow would have been sufficient to run a small mill at the end of the run. I have not yet been up there to verify the topography but map GIS confirms the land falls from the moor to the mill so I am very hopeful that this will prove the excavated site at Catlow as the fulling mill mentioned in the Gazette.

This, of course, doesn't mean that we should stop questioning or seeking new evidence!

Author:  andywilks [ Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Sagars of Catlow - 1885

I'm certainly not considering myself anything of an expert in this field and was just taking stock of all that had been discovered this year.

I've looked at the area in question and you're probably right there wasn't any industrial working there.
1) if there was its likely we would see the evidence of them in the postcards from around 100 yrs ago.
2) several times a year the river will become engorged in flood and being on the outside of a curve is in the worst place to suffer the consequences.

So we still can't fully explain why the land boundaries go beyond the river midline.

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