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No. 33 May 2000

Monthly Newsletter

Pipeline Opportunity

I don’t know if you have noticed, but a large swathe of the countryside has been laid open just north of Wigan.  This is in preparation for the Transco gas pipeline running from Mawdsley to Warrington.  It is taking a very circuitous route around Standish, Adlington, Westhoughton, Atherton, Leigh and onto Glazebury and Culcheth.  It should provide a great opportunity for archaeological discovery, as it crosses two Roman roads.  Environmental Archaeological Services are carrying out the evaluations and both Lancashire and Greater Manchester Archaeology are keeping a close eye on developments.

CBA Northwest

This year’s AGM will be held at the Norton Priory Museum in Runcorn on Saturday, 6th May.  The proceedings will include the usual series of reports on recent work from around the region. People who are interested should contact me as soon as possible.


The resistivity meter frame is now complete and last week I surveyed my back lawn to see if I could spot the trench I dug a few years ago.  That didn’t appear, but more worryingly, a large anomaly in the middle did.  Next weekend John Barker and myself have arranged to speak to the farmer at Brimlow.  His two fields should be a good test for the meter and also hopefully tell us more about the direction of the Roman road.

Next Meeting

Wednesday 3rd May at the BP Centre (Scout HQ) in Greenough Street, at 7.30 pm as usual.This month’s speaker is Adrian Tindall from Chester Archaeology.  In the early 80’s Adrian worked for the Greater Manchester Archaeology Unit who were very active in the Wigan area at that time.  In fact it was Adrian who supervised the excavations in the Wiend.  This work is still regarded as the most comprehensive study ever done in the Wigan district.  Funded by the Manpower Services Commission it was the first time the remains of Roman Wigan had been revealed and recorded in-situ.  Here are the details. 

Roman Wigan

The work centred on the area now occupied by the new children’s library at the top of Mill Gate and uncovered four phases of Roman settlement spanning the late 1st to 2nd century AD.

The early phases were associated with cobbled surfaces and substantial timber storage buildings of a seemingly temporary nature.  The deliberate destruction of these building together with the pottery assemblage strongly suggests military activity.

This was particularly apparent in the 2nd phase when large sleeper-beams were used to support floor with less substantial joists. The later phases were associated with heavy industrial activity, particularly in the 4th phase when large hearths with flat stone bases were uncovered.

These were tentatively identified as bloomery furnaces.  The large quantities of iron slag, cannel coal and wood or charcoal, strongly suggest some form of large-scale iron working activity.

Medieval Well 

The excavations also revealed the earliest medieval feature ever found in Wigan. This was a square timber-lined well or cistern dating from the 13th  century.

The pottery retrieved from its base represent the only artefacts ever found in the area from this period, which is remarkable considering Wigan’s historical heritage.  The pieces, 3 virtually complete earthenware vessels, are on display in the History Shop.

A deed dating form before 1293 refers to “La Hally Well Kar” (or Holly Well Field) “between the land of Nicholas de Tildesleye and the water of Dogles”. It would be nice to think that this well was the one referred to in the deed.  (Information from The Greater Manchester Archaeological Journal 1985)

At the meeting, Adrian will also be updating us on the more significant Roman work recently carried out around Chester.

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