Amateur archaeologists are being invited to join a pioneering project, which is expected to re-write the history of farming in the Dales.

Dave MacLeod, one of the presenters on the BBC’s Time Flyers programme, will be just one of the special guests at the launch of the groundbreaking initiative, which aims to reveal “Grassington’s Ancient Fields”.

Members of the Yorkshire Dales Landscape Trust will reveal how they plan to run a year-long exploration of a farmer’s field to the north of the village after winning a Grassroots Grant.

Already evidence has been revealed which shows early settlements date back a lot further than previously thought and carbon dating of sheep bones discovered near Grassington revealed that the area was one of the oldest sites for farming in Britain.

The trust’s director of archaeology, Dr Roger Martlew, who lives at Kettlewell, said the site had been chosen following a detailed look at aerial photographs which showed clear evidence of ancient settlements.

“We hope to be able to start telling the story of farming in the Dales over the past 6,000 years with the results of this project,” said Mr Martlew.

“Some of the surviving evidence in Grassington is as much as 6,000 years old and these landscapes in the Dales are among the best- preserved in Europe.

“There has not been much ploughing in the Dales since medieval times and so, unlike other areas, the ground has not been cut to smithereens.

“The surprising thing about the Dales is that there is such a lot of evidence of ancient settlements to be located, but it has not been comprehensively researched in recent years.

“A lot of evidence has been labelled as being from Roman times, but that view has been based on not much evidence.

“If you apply the modern techniques available now you can often overturn ideas which were once believed to be true. We are finding evidence that is a lot older than previously thought.”

Members of the Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group and the Upper Wharfedale Field Society have already pledged to support the project.

And Mr Martlew said he felt privileged to be following in the footsteps of the late esteemed archaeologist Arthur Raistrick who lived at Linton.

The project will be launched tomorrow (Friday) when locals will be given a bird’s eye view of the field and encouraged to take part in creating a detailed record of the evidence left by many generations of Dales farmers.

“Aerial photographs taken from the air around 16 years ago give a good overall impression, but work on the ground will provide so much more detail,” said Mr Martlew.

“We would like to invite people to get involved in doing a bit of the preliminary work in surveying the site. There are no detailed records at the moment, everything is a bit sketchy.

“The work does not require a large amount of expertise and so, with a little guidance, the local community can help record the Dales ancient field systems. It’s all about appreciating the landscape around us.

“It’s mainly aimed at adults and hopefully in the future, as things develop, we will do projects in collaboration with local schools.”

Mr Martlew said equipment to be used would range from tape measures to state-of-the-art global positioning systems.

Anyone who would like to get involved can attend tomorrow’s launch in the Octagon Theatre at Grassington’s Devonshire Institute from 7pm until 9pm. Refreshments will be provided and admission is free.