Elsecar Gasworks project wins national award

A project which mapped one of Elsecar’s most important historic sites using cutting edge technology, has won a prestigious national award from the Association for Industrial Archaeology.

Samantha Frandsen, an MSc Exploration Geophysics student from University of Leeds’ School of Earth and Environment, was singled out for outstanding scholarship and making a unique contribution to the field of archaeology.

The project used gravity surveying – a technique rarely used in archaeology – alongside more established methods to search for remains of the former Elsecar gasworks. Gravity surveying can be used to measure different densities in the ground, including differences between solid foundations and hidden voids.

The Elsecar gasworks was established in 1857 by the Earl Fitzwilliam and reflected the Earl’s drive to embrace and develop new technology and innovation. The gasworks was part of the Earl’s industrial model village, alongside his new central workshops – now the Elsecar Heritage Centre.

The project found that substantial remains of the gasworks survive underground, including the foundations of one of the two gasholders that once stood at the heart of the historic village.

The work was supported by the Elsecar Heritage Action Zone, a partnership between Barnsley Museums and Historic England.

Dr. Adam Booth, Associate Professor of Applied Geophysics, said “We take great pride in our students being able to apply geophysical innovations to any subsurface investigation. Samantha demonstrated real personal flair in this project and rose to the challenge of working with experimental technologies. Her award from the Association for Industrial Archaeology is richly deserved.”

Dr. Tegwen Roberts, Elsecar Heritage Action Zone Officer, said: “We are delighted that this project has gained national recognition. Elsecar was built on innovation and it’s fantastic that we are still pushing the boundaries of archaeological research and technology. The partnership project with the University has been extremely successful, and we are looking forward to working with them on other exciting projects in the future.”

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