Rectory Project (Area 4)

Date: April 1, 2012
Trench 4 is now completely back-filled (you wouldn’t know we had been there) leaving the magnificent hornbeam (adjacent) unscathed. We have left the curbing of the ornamental path exposed as this is away from the tree and trenched very shallow any.
Date: March 18, 2012 10:12PM
A quick extension of the trench in the west corner revealed that the upper fine cobbled surface has a significant camber to it – but is cut into on the SW side so couldn’t determine how far it extended.

Date: March 18, 2012 09:51PM
A quick look underneath the brick plinths showed that the same section layers continue across the trench. Significantly though the plinths themselves were built on top of the fill of the deep cut on the SE side.

Date: March 18, 2012 09:31PM
Last month we started back at the Rectory (after our winter break) with a requirement to backfill trench 4 – due to a letter from Alan Gayner from the diocese who had received advice from a tree health specialist. A recent visit had given him concern about the size of this hole being so close to the nearby big tree (a hornbeam). We explained that we had had permission from Wigan’s tree preservation officer and we had not broken through the root ball. However he was still worried about the tree as it was vulnerable to disease – so we agreed to backfill asap. Before we started however we needed to clean up the NE face for sectioning. It turns out the lower compacted clay layer goes quite deep – a core taken at the bottom of the trench suggests it extends another 10cm before the pure sand of the natural appears.

Date: December 03, 2011 04:23PM
As we’ve cut through the lower compacted brick and clay layer, it is obvious that it is all one context. It’s older than the think brown clayey soil layer which it lies under (this layer produced pre-Victorian pottery) but without pottery from this lower layer it is difficult to be precise on date.

Date: December 03, 2011 04:12PM
Further work in the east corner of trench 4 reveals more of the structure of this trench. It can clearly be seen that rubble filled trench cuts through all the lower layers until it reaches the sandy clay layer right at the bottom (at 1.8m down).

Date: December 03, 2011 03:57PM
Opening up trench 9, the concreted cinder seems to continue eastwards, interrupted only by the cut for the buried (lead pipe) mains water supply we found a few weeks ago. The cinder does change texture however as it precedes eastwards, from small gritty pebbles to larger consolidated lumps.

Date: December 03, 2011 03:13PM
We’ve also been investigating the extent of the concreted cinder found in trenches 7,8 and 9 and in the south corner of trench 4. This trench (test pit 9), dug between trenches 7 and 4, shows the extent of the concreted cinder on the north side of the curbed track (it shows it giving way to brick and mortar rubble fill).

Date: November 19, 2011 09:01AM
The section through the previous layer is also very interesting. Lying underneath the 10cm thick layer of compacted cobble and clay is a band of black gritty pit dirt (reminiscent of the road material we found in Area 1). This lies on top of a band of compacted brick and clay which, in turn, lies on top of the 5cm thick band of pure clay (which separates it from the exposed compacted brick surface). (Pottery from this level also suggests a pre-Victorian date.)

Date: November 17, 2011 09:35PM
Opening up this east corner revealed some interesting archaeology. The compacted brick layer continues westward but changes to just yellowish compacted clay on the south side. A blackish stain in the centre seems to be an extension of the soft rubble fill that occupies the bottom (east) corner. The yellowish compacted clay is on the alignment old Frog Lane but it is hard to imagine that this is what it is.

Date: November 07, 2011 10:11PM
The 5cm clay band above the hard surface is also clear to see in this section

Date: November 07, 2011 10:08PM
We have at last, however, reached a surface here (clayey sand). Whether this is the natural or not is still unclear (a steel probe suggests there are further stones below the surface at various depths). We can go down another 20cm so we should be able to discover what this represents.

Date: November 07, 2011 09:58PM
With the stone blocks removed , this part of the trench is getting quite deep now (1.8m) which means we won’t be able to go much deeper without shoring.

Date: November 07, 2011 09:51PM
Further digging in the east corner of trench 4 has revealed what appears to be another hard surface (compacted with clay and brick) lying under a thin layer (about 5cm thick) of brown clay. This layer is cut into on the south side by a trench which has been back-filled with rubble (including large stone block.

Date: November 07, 2011 09:39PM
This suggests that the pipe was put in before the plinth (as it also goes under the path we discovered, it must be older than that too). The soil bellow the pipe was very loose here and at another 20cm further down, a couple of couple bricks appear, resting on a thick stone slab. Whether this represents a feature is unclear. As we were keen to rebury the pipe asap to protect it from damage (particularly frost) we didn’t have time to expand this part of the trench to investigate this feature any further.

Date: November 07, 2011 08:58PM
The pipe passes under the brick plinth and continues on the other side.

Date: November 06, 2011 08:23PM
The cut in the concreted cinder turns out to be a trench for a buried lead pipe which , in actual fact, is the mains water supply for the hall. Confirmed later by Barry (the current hall occupier) who showed us the stop cock on the pavement on the other side of the wall surrounding the grounds (on the same trajectory) – could have been very embarrassing if we had broken through it.

Date: September 27, 2011 10:20PM
Expanded area around South corner of trench 4 to see how far concreted cinder (which appears in other trenches) extends eastward. Seems to go as far as stone feature but with a cut running through it.

Date: September 27, 2011 10:05PM
Carrying on digging in east corner of trench 4 revealed broken stone blocks, just thrown in (on piece had patterning on it) – quite deep now but still no sign of original road.

Date: August 06, 2011 11:18AM
Two new volunteers joined us this week – Chris Nuttall, who has just done his Degree in Archaeology at Liverpool Uni (and is going on to do his Masters) and Laura Spain (and daughter) who managed to uncover all this curbing between trench 5 and trench 9.

Date: August 06, 2011 11:06AM
Two holes seem to have appeared but whether these are post holes or just cavities is unclear (the cavitation seems to extend under the compacted clayey layer). Probing in the east corner (bottom of picture) suggest something solid not much further down (about another 15cm) – could it be the road we’re looking for.

Date: August 06, 2011 10:41AM
We managed to pick up the gravelled surface quite clearly in the north west side of the trench but how far it extends and what it was far is not yet clear. The rubble overlies a compacted clayey layer (but we still have rubble on the east side).

Date: August 06, 2011 10:32AM
Widening trench 4 (this is trench 4 by the way – despite what it says on the previous chalk boards) reveals the brick column to be unconnected to anything. Notice the stratigraphy bottom right of the picture – the rubble in the section appears to be the foundation for a gravelled surface (which we didn’t see when digging out this area).

Date: July 25, 2011 10:45PM
Trench 9 was opened to check if there were corresponding features on the opposite site of the road. No features – just concreted cinder similar to trenches 7 & 8.

Date: July 25, 2011 10:41PM
Mainly soil and building rubble in this trench but in the corner two brick columns appeared. Not well built with no proper foundation, they could be garden features associated with the road (although not on the same alignment). One has a stone cap with a strange groove but could be reused from elsewhere.

Date: July 25, 2011 10:29PM
With a good turn out this month we returned to this site to see if we could make some head way in trench 5 where we believe pre-Victorian level lie at a depth of about 1m.

Date: May 09, 2011 10:42PM
This trench shows that the guttering slabs here have not be been bedded on the cinder – just seem to be resting gritty soil (the out of position slab was presumably disturbed when the adjacent Community Centre was built in the early 70’s).

Date: May 09, 2011 10:28PM
At the other end of the site the road seems to be lying on top of concreted cinder. This doesn’t seem to have been put down for the road as it is sloping i.e. it’s higher in trench 7 than it is in trench 8.

Date: May 09, 2011 10:19PM
The random stone in this trench is a wall capping stone with a groove cut in it (presumably for a connecting strap). It’s lying on very soft building rubble which goes down quite deep. This confirms our first suspicion that the original lane is at some depth in this area.

Date: May 09, 2011 10:07PM
Back on this area after an April full of Bank Holidays. It’s now quite obvious that this road is not the old Frog Lane we’re looking for – it’s not wide enough, it’s not on the right alignment and significantly the guttering doesn’t really work as a gutter – it is higher than the road itself, therefore wouldn’t drain the road (this suggests it’s ornamental).
The road does however match the track shown on the 1893 map which was built when the new hall was constructed. It must therefore be contemporary with the path we discovered in Area 1 (it’s a very different construction though).

Date: March 31, 2011 10:45PM
The metal detector was very popular and coins were discovered (nothing found of any significance though).

Date: March 31, 2011 10:40PM
Remains of road extends right across the site and we even have its width

Date: March 31, 2011 10:35PM
Not as many students a last year (9 + teacher) but enthusiasm just as great. Just enough though to tackle the trenches opened in Area 4 designed identify extent of road discovered last week.

Date: March 22, 2011 08:54PM
Our initial trench (2m x 3m) was enough to catch the edge of the entrance road. Extending another (1m x 1m) exposed a nice section of curbing with the road extending beyond (consisting of hardcore).
We left it here so that the students have something to go at next Monday (probing suggests the curbing extends across the whole site so plenty room for a good few students).

Date: March 22, 2011 08:28PM
As mentioned above we know exactly where to start digging from map overlays and probing – our target being the junction where an entrance road branches off from the main road.

Date: March 22, 2011 07:52PM
After cleaning up the general area, took the opportunity to take a pseudo-section (resistivity survey) before starting to excavate (no point in doing an area survey as we knew exactly where to dig from map overlays an probing – pseudo-section will give us the chance to see how accurate it is). Mark T also checked the whole area with a metal detector (finding nothing of note).


Date: March 08, 2011 10:55PM
First visit of the year – just to see what damage the deep frost has done and if we can get it into a fit state for the Winstanley students. After pumping out and digging out the slutch the site isn’t that bad -some areas have had to be abandoned and back filled but generally not bad.
Managed to open up a datum line across into our next area (Area 4 – called that because Area 2 is the lawn behind the Hall and Area 3 is just in front of the Hall) – it’s right in the corner on the east side (on the right hand side of the gatehouse entrance). Did some probing and looks like the archaeology isn’t deep at all – looks very promising (with a large area to go at to). What we are looking for in this area is the road once again but also an entrance into the grounds which looks on the maps to be bigger than the one opposite Hallgate. Could this be the original main entrance? – maybe it’s had less attention from later landscaping (fingers crossed).


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