Skip to main content

Bedale, Aiskew and Leeming Bar Bypass

PCA undertook excavations ahead of the construction of a new relief road, bypassing Bedale, Aiskew and Leeming Bar. The road runs from Bedale to a point east of Leeming Bar on the A684 Northallerton Road, a distance of approximately 4.2km. It crosses the A1(M) north of Leeming Bar.

Two major sites were revealed by the road scheme: a Roman Villa complex to the north of Aiskew, and a substantial ditched enclosure of Iron Age/ Roman date situated to the north-east of Bedale. The enclosure at Bedale had already identified during aerial survey, however the Roman villa was completely unexpected. Excavations revealed the layout of the villa, one corner of which was clipped by the road corridor. All archaeological remains within this area were fully excavated and recorded prior to construction works. The Yorkshire Post covered our discovery with the headline 95 per cent of Roman villa in North Yorkshire field is yet to be uncoveredclick here to read their article. The remainder of the villa has now been scheduled.

The road corridor ran through approximately two-thirds of the enclosure site and this was again subjected to archaeological excavation prior to construction works. There was also a third fascinating discovery that not only physically connected the two sites but also connected them to the present – a routeway between the two sites. An artist’s reconstruction of the enclosure site overlain onto an aerial photo of the excavation (right), shows how, remarkably, the line of the new bypass follows the route of a trackway established over 2000 years ago, following the higher, well drained land along the Bedale and Scurf Becks.

The remainder of the road corridor was subjected to archaeological monitoring of soil-stripping works as the development progressed and any archaeological remains encountered along the route were excavated and recorded as a matter of course, without causing any undue delay to the development programme.

Involving the community was integral to the project. Where safe and practical, this included on-site experience during excavation works at the enclosure; a site tour and finds display for pupils of Bedale School, plus community events during the work and involvement afterwards. Following the excavations, pupils from Mowbray School in Bedale enjoyed a talk and finds display as well as an outdoor finds processing session. Local and national archaeological societies and regional community groups also enjoyed talks and displays. Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Archaeology Group helped to process finds, including washing the many animal bones, fragments of pottery and other artefacts, and members of Bedale Archaeology and History Society sieved soil excavated from one of the large quarry pits at Aiskew to recover small artefacts and animal bones.

The results of this work have now been published both as a fully illustrated booklet ‘Before Bedale’ which is available as a free download here, and in PCA Monograph 25 ‘The Bedale Enclosure and Aiskew Villa’; click the links for further details.



Close Menu