VOLUNTEERS from Darwen Asylum and Refugee Enterprise (DARE) lent a hand on an archaeological dig in Malham as part of the People and the Dales project run by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT).

The award-winning scheme, supported by the Peoples Postcode Lottery, enables people that would not otherwise take part in such activities experience the Yorkshire Dales and improve their health and wellbeing.

Raphael from Ghana and Tinta from the Ivory Coast were old hands at the dig having taken part in similar events in Selside and Chapel-le-Dale – but for Ananie from Rwanda, it was his first experience having only been in the UK for nine months.

The excavation was organised by Dr Victoria Spence and Dr David Johnson and involved a team of diggers from two of the area’s community archaeology groups, plus others from further afield.

It explored the site of a medieval chapel to the south of the current Methodist Chapel in Malham, following up on a similar excavation in September 2017.

The dig was made possible thanks to support from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Sustainable Development Fund, North Craven Heritage Group, Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society, Malhamdale History Society, the Robert Kiln Fund and the Olicana Historical Society.

“These last three days have been my best time of 2019 so far,” said Tinta. “Taking part in the archaeological dig for the third time with Dr David and all the team in Malham was a wonderful experience and a boost of morale, especially for myself and Ananie.

“There is an old Ethiopian proverb which says that, ‘When spiders unite they can tie up a lion’. Therefore, every bit of your contribution to welcoming and supporting us is hugely valued and much appreciated. Thank you.”

Archaeology Director David Johnson added: “I was more than pleased when my invitation to DARE was accepted and I was delighted to welcome Tinta and Raphael back again.

“Having lived in Africa many years myself, I feel a real affinity with them and believe we in Britain have an obligation to make them feel as welcome here as I was made in Africa.”

A member of the dig added: “It was interesting to meet the visitors and their enthusiasm was catching. We were very grateful for their assistance in excavating one of the keyhole trenches opened in the chapel.”

The visitors stayed in the bunkhouse at Airton Friends Meeting House and received hospitality each evening by members of the local community who invited them into their own homes.