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Tyne and Wear HER(11611): Ryhope, Mill Hill, Ryhope Mill - Details

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Ryhope, Mill Hill, Ryhope Mill




Wind Power Site


Early Modern


Documentary Evidence

Ryhope Mill is shown on An Eye Plan of the township of Ryhope 1869. A wind mill is also depicted on a plan of farms in Ryhope, 1796-1804. The mill is not shown on a plan of 1831, when the land belonged to Miss Scurfield's representatives and William Mornman. Geophysical survey in 2014 identified a rectilinear anomaly c.40m x 40m enclosing the probable mill structure. Evaluation trenching over this anomaly in 2014 recorded two stone walls. The first ran east-west and was 0.95m wide and survived to one course high. It was constructed of large sandstone blocks bonded with lime mortar. The second wall ran north-south, was 0.8m wide and survived to two courses high. It was built of smaller sandstone blocks. The walls may relate to the mill. A large pit had been excavated around the walls, cut into the natural subsoil. It was 8.5m in diameter and 2m deep. The pit was filled with sandstone rubble within grey-brown clay-silt. Significant quantities of animal bone, post-medieval pottery, iron nails, glass fragments, clay tobacco pipe and broken bricks were also found amongst the rubble. Overlying the rubble deposit and abutting both walls was a layer of orange-brown sandy clay. To the south of the pit and walls was a linear gully 0.9m wide and 0.25m deep. It was aligned east-west and was filled with a red-brown sandy clay containing post-medieval pottery, clay tobacco pipe, animal bone, glass and iron. To the west of the mill was another shallow gully, 0.8m wide and 0.15m deep, running north-west to south-east. It was filled with grey-brown sandy clay from which one fragment of post-medieval pottery was recovered. Finds included 178 pottery sherds. These included two small medieval sherds, a few sherds of tin glazed earthenware and slipware of possible 17th or 18th century date and the rest was mainly brown glazed coarse and fine wares and late blackware of 18th or 19th century date. The most interesting artefacts were the animal bones. The artefacts were mainly made from horse bones They have a square hole in the proximal and distal shaft and one or two smooth scoops cut on the anterior medial and/or lateral shaft. Only one of the objects was made from a cattle bone, from a large improved type of cattle bred from the later 18th century. Similar bone artefacts made from horse metapodials were found during excavations of a possible medieval postmill at Hartlepool. This suggests that the artefacts formed an integral part of the working mechanisms of the mill, part of the gearing and bearing mechanisms. The square hole was where they were inserted onto square iron shafts. The smooth scoops were bearing surfaces for round turning beams. Tallow would have been used for lubrication. Bone was a cheaper raw material than metal (brass, bronze and gun metal bearings were used at a post-medieval windmill on Wimbledon Common). Other animal bone recovered from the Ryhope Mill (cattle, horse, sheep or goat and pig) displayed butchery chop marks and dog gnawing marks. This may indicate human consumption of shin beef and offcuts for dog food. The association of a large guard dog with the mill goes back to the medieval period (Backhouse, 2000, p 28). One possible dog fibula was recovered. Four pieces of copper alloy were found. One piece has possible punched decoration. A copper alloy pin 24mm long and 1mm wide and a bent strip of copper allo sheet 69mm long, 913mm wide and 1mm thick was recovered. Further archaeological excavation is required.




J.H. Parker (Tyne and Wear Museums), 2008, Tunstall Vale, Ryhope, Sunderland - Archaeological Desk-based Assessment; An Eye Plan of the township of Ryhope 1869; Archaeological Services University of Durham, 2013, Cherry Knowle, Ryhope, Sunderland, Archaeological Assessment; Plans of farms at Ryhope, 1796-1804 (TWAS DT.BEL/1/89); Archaeological Services Durham University, May 2014, Cherry Knowle, Ryhope, Sunderland - geophysical survey and archaeological evaluation; Archaeological Services Durham University, 2013, Land west of Eaglesfield Road, Hartlepool, Teesside - post-excavation analysis; J. Backhouse, 2000, Medieval Rural Life in the Luttrell Psalter; A. Lucas, 2006, Wind, Water, Work: Ancient and Medieval Milling Technology;; Louisa Gidney, 2016, Bone Artefacts From Medieval and Post-Medieval Windmills: Changing Interpretations in Selena Vitezovic (ed), 2016, Close to the bone: current studies in bone technologies, pp 128-132

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