Between 2014 and 2016, Northern Archaeological Associates Ltd (NAA) undertook a series of non-intrusive investigations within Lambton Park in County Durham
Lambton Park lies within the Lambton Estate, which has belonged to the Lambton Family since the 12th century. It is likely that Lambton Hall had its origins as a medieval manorial centre. During the medieval period, the land surrounding it was intensively farmed, evidence of which survives as ridge and furrow earthworks. The Lambton family were involved in the coal trade from at least the 15th century. Evidence of coal pits is recorded on several historic maps of the site, as well as evidence of several field boundaries, ponds, a sluice, areas of woodland, and a deer park. In the 1970s, part of the estate was used as a safari park (The Lambton Lion Park). The various alterations to the estate, including landscaping and the numerous trackways, still remain visible in the contemporary landscape.
As part of a desk-based assessment, NAA collated documentary and cartographic evidence that indicated over 30 post-medieval coal pits and several associated wagonways lay within the proposed development area. During a walkover survey of the site, it was noted that earthworks of five pits and the route of two sections of wagonway were clearly visible within the modern parkscape. Subsequent geophysical (gradiometer) survey confirmed that extensive mining activity had occurred within the park and mapped numerous coal pits and wagonways. Furthermore, although historic maps had offered detail into the quantity of mine shafts, geophysical survey was instrumental in offering a more precise location of the shafts, as well as investigating the potential for further buried features, which either related to the mining activity or an alternative phase of activity.
Through the work completed by NAA at Lambton Park, coherent insight into the potential of buried archaeological remains within the park was established, allowing for the development of an informed archaeological mitigation strategy. In particular, the geophysical survey at Lambton Park offered crucial risk management for potential development, whereby it was possible to both suggest a more accurate location for buried mine shafts, as well as indicating the potential scope of additional buried archaeological features within the site.