The Grotto overlooks a large grassy bank, as you walked past prior to 2017, you might not have be aware that the behind the bank there was once a large pool, fed by springs tumbling down through the gullies further up the valley. I will call this the Grotto Pool.
Hidden, almost lost, below the undergrowth on top of the what is in fact a Dam, a small culvert was just visible giving a vague indication that once the level of the Pool could have been very high and the Pool itself very deep.
In 2017 I and other volunteers under the direction of the Archaeologist, Stephen Wass, investigated the area around what seemed a simple culvert, possibly an overflow to allow excess water to escape rather than flow over the top of the Dam. What we found was quite remarkable and completely unknown to any one we spoke to. A Stone cascade, which must have been quite a feature at the time it was built.
The uncovered cascade added to the list of features that were worthy of restoration. However no further work was undertaken on the cascade until May this year 2019. The decision had been made to restore the cascade and work began to dismantle and investigate further to see how it had been constructed.
The hope of dismantling the cascade stone by stone was soon dashed; erosion of the bank below the stonework very soon resulted in the whole cascade collapsing.
The Stonework was removed from the void, leaving the walls of the structure intact.
The Birch Brothers were the contractors who dismantled the cascade, as they were the ones who were going to restore it. In the mean time it was time for more archaeology and I and other volunteers were once more scratching way around the structure, with Stephen Wass, to see just how much more we could find out about the structure and how much further down the bank it extended.
The opinion of the expert is that there might have been an original structure that was a series of stepped platforms that worked like small waterfalls and that a later design was built on top, in the form of a sloped cascade as we had originally found. The site was marked out, measured, photographed and tabulated in a fashion we have seen Stephen working before. It is now all set for the Birch Brothers to put it all back together again.
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