LOCAL historians have been awarded £10,000 in lottery money to help them uncover the secrets of Tadcaster's past.

Tadcaster Historical Society is set to stage a trial community dig at the side of the town's River Wharfe, where a Norman motte and bailey castle guarded the river crossing.

It is also thought that the Roman road to Eboracum (York) was nearby as well as Roundhead gun emplacements during the Civil War.

John Firth, who is leading the project on behalf of the society, said it would be working with professional archaeologists but also hoped to involve the people of Tadcaster in the dig.

“From the start, we are working with local schools and the community,” he said.

“Exploring the past in a dig like this can help people develop new skills as well as find out a lot more about the town they live in. And, apart from all that, they can have some fun.”

The society has been awarded £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage programme and has also received funding support from Tadcaster Town Council and the local Community Engagement Forum.

Mr Firth said that from the 1840s to the 1960s, the site had stone cottages on it. "The project is keen to hear from any Tad resident who knows anything about these cottages," he said.

"Who built them? Who lived there? What did they do?"

Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund in Yorkshire & the Humber, said Sharing Heritage was a 'wonderful opportunity for communities to delve into their local heritage.'

Leading up to Easter, trial trenches will be dug and the contents explored and recorded. There will also be an oral history project exploring the memories of residents, and an extensive search of historical documents and photographs relating to the site.

An exhibition of findings will be staged in the town at the close of the project.