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No. 4 May 97

Monthly Newsletter

Road to Roman Wigan Exposed

The Roman road from Lancaster to Wigan has been uncovered just south of Preston by the Lancaster University Archaeology Unit.  This important west coast main route, which went on to connect Wigan with Warrington and Chester, was discovered in excavations carried out in advance of new development on a site adjacent to the Warner Brothers Cinema at Walton-le-Dale.  A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the site with a group of society members and I would like to apologise to all those who I could not contact in time for the trip.

Roman Kiln

A rare find in the excavations, which were started late last year, was a Roman pottery kiln, complete with a pile of broken reject pots and roof tiles.  Ian Rogers of the L.U.A.U., who gave us a guided tour of the site, explained that samples from the kiln had been dated using ‘Residual Magnetism’ to around 280 AD.  There were also a number of stone lined wells, one of which had been fully excavated to a depth of 4 metres.

Settlement

Walton-Le-Dale Site Plan

The earliest phase of the settlement dates to the 1st century AD and is represented by the remains of very large prefabricated timber buildings.  Later, these were replaced by smaller units in which a variety of crafts were carried out including leather tanning and metal working.  Evidence for occupation of the site after the 3rd century does not exist, although it could be that later ploughing has destroyed this phase.  Alternatively the settlement may have transferred to the higher ground of Walton itself to avoid flooding. (Walton comes from Wallas or Walsh Ton which is Saxon for ‘British’ settlement).

Road in Section

Although there was a considerable amount of pottery and other finds such as glass, the highlight of the excavation for me was the Roman road.  This had been sectioned, revealing an elaborate construction, i.e. a clay cambered based with layer upon layer of pebbles and rammed gravel surfaces indicating a number of repair stages.

By the time you receive this newsletter the excavators will have finished their work and the developers will have moved in to bury the site once and for all under a car park or new buildings.

Ancient

I have recently received a copy of a bimonthly magazine entitled ‘Ancient’.  Apparently it has been going for ten years but I have never heard of it before.  This edition contains articles on Cairo Museum, Greek coins and the Roman army.  It seems very good, so on behalf of the society I have sent off the yearly subscription (10).  This brings the number of periodicals the society is contributing to, to four, i.e. Current Archaeology, the Council of Independent Archaeologists, Lancashire County History and Ancient.  If anybody wants to borrow any, please see me at the meetings.

Crews

Campaign for the Restoration of the Wells of Standish. At the March meeting I mentioned a letter I had received from CREWS outlining their efforts to mark the site of Hic Bibi Well.  This ancient and locally celebrated well on the Standish-Coppull border was destroyed by sand quarrying, though the spring of water seems to have surfaced again nearby.  They have obtained the land-owners permission and intend erecting a simple stone inscribed HIC BIBI some time in the Summer.  I have therefore sent them a small contribution (10) towards the cost of the project.  Mr Hilton, secretary of CREWS, tells me that work is already in hand for the reconstruction of the well in Market Street, Standish that was destroyed in the last war when an American lorry fell in it.

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Society will be on Wednesday 7th May at the history shop at 7.30 pm as usual. This month’s speaker is Rachael Newman, who will be talking on the Romans in Lancashire.  Rachael was in charge of excavations at the Walton-le-Dale site and will be able to explain the findings in more detail.

Hope to see you at the meeting - B.A.