SPECTATOR never ceases to be amazed at the fascination a load of old bones, rocks or bits of flint can create. Of course it’s real history, even though it may just be a tiny legacy of what great buildings may have been there in the first place.

So you can guarantee the start of the dig at Captain Cook’s home in Great Ayton will attract much interest as well as the Open Day at Thornton Le Street where they’ve been digging for the past two years to discover roads into their past.

It can sometimes be playing catch-up, if Captain Cook’s cottage had been preserved and not sent to Australia in 1934 we might not be so desperate to dig up the garden and create a memorial spot, but hopefully these are some of the ongoing lessons of history.

The Parish Council who are helping to fund the Great Ayton dig say people are welcome to go along and see for themselves as it gets underway between February 11 to 13, and at Thornton Le Street there’s an Open Day showing off much of what has been gathered, in the village hall on March 23. Over 2,500 artefacts have been unearthed many going back thousands of years to the last ice age. While often these digs and the artefacts uncovered create as many questions as they find answers it’s gripping for us today to see these windows into the past.

These run alongside other recent digs at the Northallerton prison site, Bedale Roman Villa and the vast array of discoveries made during work on the A1 particularly at Catterick. Obviously in these days of austerity and awareness over public spending we hesitate to come up with good ideas on other people’s behalf but how fascinating it would be to be able to gather at least some of these artefacts together on our own doorstep, even temporarily.