The Prehistoric Collection
As a follow up to the work we did last year on the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR), I
asked Yvonne Web of the Wigan History Shop to look at all the relevant prehistoric and
Roman material they have in storage there. She has now done this for all the
prehistoric items, and has given me a listing with tentative identifications for each
object. Here is a summary of her findings.
The task of identification has not been easy and, in some cases, only speculative, as
much of the relevant documentation is either missing or contradictory. There have
been a number of lists and registers produced over the years, the most important being the
Library Manuscript dating from the late 19th century. The earliest entries in this
have been crossed out and about five pages have been removed altogether. The rest of
the entries are numbered but are only contemporary from 1935 and it ends in 1967.
According to Yvonne this register is in very poor condition and cannot be handled without
some conservation work.
In 1970 a list was drawn up by Hilary Fairclough, who made the first attempt at
identifying the items, but with what authority is unclear as whatever information she had
no longer exists. She also created a numbering system, which was retained when the
items went on display in 1977 in the old Powell Museum (now demolished).
In the late 1980's a new numbering system was introduced by Wendy Smith the
Librarys first Collection Manager, who compiled a retrospective accession
register. Finally between 1991-94 the inevitable computer database was compiled.
||Registration No. (1980)
|Stone Axe- head
|Polished Stone Axe-head
||Boars Head Railway Stn.
|Bronze Age Battle Axe
|Polished Stone Axe-head
|Polished Stone Axe
||Leigh Cricket Field
||New Springs School
Of the seven items listed, only the last three can be
positively identified. As you can see the Bottling Wood axe and the Walkden Avenue
axe have two find dates and there are also conflicting descriptions. This suggests
that there may have been more than one axe found in each area. The problem with the
Boars Head axe is that on some of the listings it is confused with the one from
Derbyshire. Four of the axes were sectioned for geological examination (Petrology)
between 1978-79. This was organised by Mrs F Roe, studying for a doctoral thesis at
Oxford. It is not certain who did the examination, either Sheffield or Nottingham
University, but the full report was apparently never received. Yvonne does have the
results however, i.e. items 1 and 3 are Group XV impure sandstone, item 2 is altered
volcanic rock and item 6 sandstone/quartzite. Item 4 was not sectioned but is said
to be Group VI Langdale. The implications for the SMR are that at least two new
items can be added i.e the Shaft-hole Adze and the Flint Scraper. (Yvonne says she
can organise a viewing for us later in the year.)
We have now got a full programme of speakers for the
year. In addition to the ones mentioned last month, we have Jonathan Pratt in July
talking on Wigan in the 17th century, and by popular request, in September once again we
have Martin Charlesworth, whos talk is entitled the Greeks, the Persians, the Romans
- and the Britains!? - sounds good.
The next meeting of the Society will be on Wednesday 5th
March at the history shop at 7.30 pm as usual. This month speaker is Bob Blakeman who is
the Outreach Officer at the History Shop. He will be giving us a talk on Medieval
Hope to see you at the meeting - B.A.