An amazing discovery has just been made on an excavation site on the outskirts of
Atherton. Underneath the debris of the now demolished farmstead at Gadbury Fold,
archaeologists from Manchester University have unearthed what they believe to be a large
Prehistoric ditch. Its antiquity is confirmed by a small flint scraper found in the
bottom. The ditch was first suspected as being Prehistoric in the early stages of the dig
when evaluation trenches revealed this feature to be totally devoid of any later material.
As we reported in Newsletter 62 the land at Gadbury Fold is being redeveloped as Gibfield
Park housing estate and the developers, Black Country Estates - as obliged by PPG16 - are
funding all the excavations. The work there has now been completed and Peter Connelly, the
site director, says the ditch, which runs right across the length of the site, could be at
least 4 thousand years old. This is a fantastic find as Prehistoric settlements, which
this feature represents, are extremely rare in this part of the North West.
The initial interest in this farm was the suspected Roman Road, which is supposed to
have run through the site. Evaluation trenches uncovered a cobbled surface, which
initially was thought to be the Road but after subsequent work turned out to be a
post-medieval courtyard. About 30cm below this, however the archaeologists have detected a
small area of another cobbled surface which they are, at the moment, assuming to be
remains of the Roman Road.
Peter is also excited about evidence for Medieval occupation which may stretch back
beyond the 15th century. The evidence comes in the form of brown glazed pottery associated
with pits and other ditches. After initial work, it was realised that enough archaeology
survived on this site to warrant a full-scale excavation and so Norman Redhead, from the
GMAU, secured an agreement with the developers for a delay in their schedule until a full
investigation could be completed. The archaeologists have now moved onto the adjacent
Hatton Fold site where our societies excavations earlier this year revealed a
possible section of the Road in the corner one of the trenches. We are keeping a close eye
on this one.
Time Teams Big Dig
Well, our Big moment came and went (all 2½ minutes worth) and I hope you
were all tuned in to see it. Fortunate viewers will have seen myself, Tom and our
facilitator Mark Chamberlain explain to Channel 4s presenter Jasmine Lowson why we
were all lingering in dark woods on a Saturday evening with trowels in hands. I even got
to point out our hole in the ground (just before some juvenile pulled the plug on us). It
was all a bit nerve-racking as our spot went out live, but I think we did manage to get
our point across.
The site itself has developed considerably since then and all indications are that we have
discovered the remains of the Roman Road running from Manchester to Wigan at this point in
Ince Park. Three trenches were eventually dug and evidence for a bank and ditch seem to
appear in all 3. In trench 1 there is even an array of cobbles, but rather than go into
details here, I will leave it for a later issue when we will have a better understanding
our find. The site is still open and later this month we intend carrying out more work,
particularly on trench 1 where Sharon Saunders from the Parks and Gardens Dept has given
us permission to expand.
Best of British Archaeology
This year The National CBA is holding its annual conference at the Maritime Museum in
Liverpool and it is open to the public. The event is to be held from Friday 26 to Sunday
28 September and will include a lecture by Loyd Grossman on the role of history and
heritage. There will also be presentations on the archaeology of the North West and guided
trips to regional archaeological sites. Finally, an evening dinner will provide ample
opportunity for people to meet leading national and regional archaeologists. If you are
interested, please let me know at the meeting.
Once again our happy band of society die-hards are off to Angers for a weekend of
sightseeing and prospecting. This year, as well as visiting famous sarcophagus mines
there, we have been asked to take our resistivity meter to do some work on the Roman
town site at Chenehutte.
Wednesday 3rd September at the BP Centre (Scout HQ) in Greenough Street, at 7.30 pm as
usual. This month we were to have had John Darlington from Lancashire
Archaeology, but unfortunately, he is unable to attend. Luckily, however, we have been
able to persuade Gordon Roberts, at short notice, to present his highly recommended talk
entitled Footsteps on the Pre-historic Landscape. Hope to see
you there. B.A.