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Monday, 12 September 2016

It would be folly not to learn more

Archaeologists have begun excavating the remains of Rustic Cottage at National Trust property, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal.

Rustic Cottage is one of several lost garden buildings at the World Heritage Site near Ripon. These buildings, known as follies, were often used in eighteenth century gardens as eye-catchers to surprise visitors and enhance views.

Little is known about the folly though it's thought to have been built by William Aislabie as he set out to join up the estates of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, after buying the abbey from the Messenger family of Fountains Hall in 1767.

Only a fraction of the cottage building stands and few images remain of the folly. The Picturesque style was fashionable in the late eighteenth century and images show that Rustic Cottage was built in this style, constructed using rubble from the ruins of the abbey and cobbles assumed to be from nearby fields.

Archaeologists hope to discover more about the design of the building, how it looked inside and what Rustic Cottage might have been used but are aware that there might be little left underground. What is known about the cottage is that, unusually, it was home to several estate workers from the 1860s onwards.

Visitors can stand by to see the dig on a viewing platform at this weekend (17 and 18 September) and hear more from National Trust archaeologist Mark Newman at talks throughout the day.

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