Last week I attended my first Factory Night, put on by Rednile Projects, and had a wonderful time. It was an archaeological event and open to all kinds of art practitioners interested in this subject area. It began with a guided tour of the Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum at Skinningrove.
Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum
Fortunately we didn’t have to venture too far down this tunnel. Some of us were already feeling claustrophobic, even this close to the outside world.
Inside the mine
Part of the tour included showing us what difficult and dangerous conditions the miners had to work in. Not just miners, as they were assisted by young boys who did a lot of the less glamourous tasks, such as caring for the horses that pulled the tubs full of ironstone back up to the surface, and preventing heavy tubs from slipping back down the tunnel when horses stopped to rest. At times it was completely black in the thick gloopy darkness, a terrible job for any human being to endure, let alone lads as young as twelve. In the blackenss, the tiny light from a candle was the only sign of hope.
Once out in the fresh air, we had our lunch overlooking the beautiful, unspoilt beach at Skinningrove, and then made our way by bus to the archaeological site at Street Houses. We were fortunate enough to have the archaeologist Stephen Sherlock with us, who showed us evidence of Neolithic occupation, and the burial site of an Anglo-Saxon princess. This 7th Century site was actually discovered byStephen, who found gold and silver jewellery in the spot where he’s standing.
Archaeologist Stephen Sherlock tells us about the Royal Anglo-Saxon find
Of course the day was about meeting fellow art practitioners as well, a really valuable part of the event. There were folk there from all over the U.K. So much expertise, skill and enthusiasm. Hopefully, we’ll keep in touch.
Walking to the site