A team of archaeologists have unearthed evidence which suggests Bingley Moor used to be as warm as the South of France.
The Stanbury Hill Project, a community archaeology venture, has been investigating a prehistoric 50,000 square metre site since 2008 and will share its findings with the public later this month.
The £50,000 scheme, a joint venture between Bingley and District Local History Society and the Division of Archaeological, Geographical and Environmental Sciences at the University of Bradford, involved hours of work by volunteers aged between 17 and 70.
An initial meeting about the scheme attracted more than 200 people.
Project director Keith Boughey said: “It whittled down to a hardcore of about 80 who helped out in various ways and 30 or 40 who came up on the moor in all sorts of weather. Even in the summer it was sometimes wet and windy. They were really wonderful people.”
The group was given just under £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to investigate the prehistoric landscape on Stanbury Hill. Part of the brief was to get the community involved, which Mr Boughey said had been a huge success.
He said the site had been picked because of previous findings there, particularly relating to prehistoric rock art – known as ‘cup-and-ring-marked’ rocks. But the group discovered more than it expected, with findings dating back 8,000 to 9,000 years and up to the 1940s.
“We went up there looking for prehistoric history, but came back with stuff going up to World War II,” Mr Boughey said.
Findings included charcoal, flint and chert tools, including pieces that could date from the Mesolithic period around 7000BC. There was also evidence of some form of agriculture and new examples of rock art.
Mr Boughey said: “The charcoal came from a mixture of tree species that suggested a date range of 1850-3350 BC and a deciduous woodland environment in a somewhat warmer climate than today.”
Work on the site finished in 2011 and the findings were taken to the university for analysis.
Mr Boughey said the project had provided new archaeological information and taught members of the community a range of archaeological skills. The group will share its findings at a meeting at Eldwick Memorial Hall on Saturday, April 27, at 12.30pm.
e-mail: julie.tickner @telegraphandargus.co.uk