About 'The First World War and Nidderdale AONB'

‘The First World War and Nidderdale AONB: Leeds Pals, Prisoners Of War and the Home Front’ is Nidderdale AONB’s three year Heritage Lottery funded First World War Centenary Project. This work is just one of many projects, events and activities happening up and down the country to commemorate the outbreak of the First World War, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Work started to develop an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2013. Following discussions with archaeologists, heritage professionals, volunteer groups and schools (to name but a few) it became clear that an interesting, worthwhile and well supported project focussing on the impact of the First World War on Nidderdale AONB should be developed.

An application was made, and we were awarded £99,500 in April 2013. In September 2013 Amanda Walters, WW1 Project Officer started work on the project.

Activities undertaken by the project have included:

  • A huge amount of research carried out by volunteers, supported by training events and research visits, into the people and places affected by the First World War, the landscape of Colsterdale and the Leeds Pals battalion
  • A three year programme of archaeological research and investigation, in partnership with the University of York
  • A three year programme of public events, including guided walks, talks and family events
  • Touring displays to inform the public about our project, both in Nidderdale AONB and in Leeds
  • Development of First World War themed heritage trails and additional interpretation
  • Access improvements to the Leeds Pals Memorial in Colsterdale
  • First World War schools resources, schools workshops and a short story competition

All of this has been made possible thanks to the work of a huge number of volunteers and partner organisations. You can find out more about who has been involved here.

The project has also produced a number of interesting reports and publications, which can be downloaded here.

LiDAR images of Colsterdale Camp and surrounds

None of the buildings at Colsterdale Camp survive above ground today and until excavations over the past three years by the University of York, knowledge of the site was entirely based on limited documentary sources and a sketch plan. There are discrepancies between the sketch plan and contemporary aerial imagery and how the landscape surrounding the camp was used, which until 2013 had never been investigated. Geophysical survey was suggested in the original HLF application as a method of identifying below-ground features using non-invasive methods to prevent damage to the archaeological remains and to enable investigation on a wider scale than is possible using excavation alone. Subsequent discussions with professionals and academics have shown that other features associated with military training of the period are slowly being identified in the wider landscape beyond the confines of the camp. Rifle ranges for shooting practice and training trench digging for trench warfare are known in the area but their full extent is not known and ground survey would be a lengthy process.

Airborne LiDAR (light detection and ranging) measures the height of the ground surface and other features in large areas of landscape with a very high resolution and accuracy.

As a method of covering large landscape areas rapidly and efficiently LiDAR has become a very important new tool for archaeologists, providing them with the capability to recognise and record otherwise hard to detect features.

Camp Large Lidar Camp Small Trenches

Images © Bluesky International Ltd. Hillshade image created with 0.25m resolution DTM from Bluesky International, azimuth set to 270deg (i.e. west) and altitude of 40deg