An dig is underway on Wearside in a bid to solve an archaeological mystery.
The dig is taking place on the south banks of the River Wear in a bid to find out more about the ‘Forgotten Stones’.
Archaeologists and volunteers will be on the site, opposite the Shipwright’s Hotel, until Friday 18 August.
The dig is part of a community led, Heritage Lottery Funded, project to trace the historical origins of the stones, which are stone structures along the banks of the river associated with pivotal stages in the city’s history.
Castletown Neighbourhood Action Group, with the help of £93,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, launched the project last December.
Project Leader from the Castletown Neighbourhood Action Group, Ian Stewart, said: “Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, we now have a great opportunity to solve this mystery that has baffled experts for many years.
We now have a great opportunity to solve this mystery that has baffled experts for many yearsIan Stewart
“This project will bring together many people of different ages, backgrounds and abilities to try and find the answer.”
It is hoped the dig will unearth answers about the stone structures, including was is it a bridge, dam, causeway or weir? Why and when was it built? Who would have had the motive, wealth, manpower and skill to construct such a massive piece of engineering?
Chairman of the North Area Committee, which works closely with the group, Coun Denny Wilson, said: “This project has really captured people’s imagination, with volunteers and local schools becoming involved.
“Being able to watch the archaeologists and volunteers work over the next few weeks will hopefully encourage even more local interest, and help demonstrate the project is making progress.
“Once again we have to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for providing even more funding for Sunderland’s heritage. This focus on the river is very timely with the Tall Ships event coming to Sunderland and our bid to be City of Culture 2021.”
Volunteers, schools, the council and professional archaeologists, are investigating interlinked sites around the city to try and identify the origins of the stone structures that once spanned the River Wear between North and South Hylton.
It is hoped that a larger archaeological investigation involving field-walking, walkover surveys, test pitting and trial trenching will take place on another site of interest in the area later this month.
For more information on the project visit www.sunderlands-forgotten-stones.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.