Archaeologists move on to the site of Northallerton’s former prison next week – and local people will have the chance to not only watch them at work but join in with the professionals!

York Archaeological Trust (YAT) will spend a month at the 3.5 acre site excavating up to five key locations – including that which it is hoped will reveal remains of the world’s largest treadmill.

And site owners, Hambleton District Council are giving access to local people and organisations through open days, workshops and digging sessions. Each will be limited by numbers – apart from the two open days on Saturdays September 16 and 30 when the gates will be open to visitors to come and see the site from 10am until 4pm.

“This is a very exciting stage of the redevelopment of the prison site and we are using the Yorkshire experts to help us through it,” said Council Leader, Councillor Mark Robson. “The trust will be looking for evidence of early life at the prison when officers and prisoners all lived in the complex, when bread was baked for the town on site, when it was used as a military prison – and of course when the famous treadmills were used for punishment.

“Being able to allow local people to have a look at what is being done – and even have a go at digging with the professional team – is an important part of our plans. We want people to feel this redevelopment is for them – and that they can help shape its future.”

Toby Kendall from YAT added: “The site has already revealed an amazing history from the documentary archives and recollections of those who worked and stayed there, now we get chance to see what remains in the ground. The fact that Hambleton District Council has extended the remit of the project to allow comprehensive public access means that everybody gets to share in this process.”

The open sessions are:

  • Archaeological workshops take place on September 12, 19 and 26 from 10am until noon and 12.30-2.30 pm to look at various aspects of the excavation teams work – including what happens to any ‘finds’. To find out more contact:
  • Your Dig public digging sessions take place from 10am until 4pm on September 13,14,15, 20, 21, 22, 27 and 28. Anyone taking part will work with the team in the trenches and be guided through the process – no experience is needed but safety boots are essential. To find out more contact:
  • Open days on September 16 and 30 from 10am until 4pm – last admission 3pm. Sturdy shoes are recommended.
Back to news