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No.65 July 2003

Monthly Newsletter

A Local Dig for Local People

Test Pit 7

Our Big Dig site at Amberswood Common is well underway and by the time you get this newsletter we should know if we have discovered the Roman Road. Our first visit on the 8th June was a wet affair but despite persistent rain, we did manage to establish datum lines and some test bore-holes with the augur. A week last Sunday, however, the weather was perfect and we opened up a number of test pits along our datum line. What we discovered however was not exactly what we expected. The assumption was that whole of this area site had been used as a dumping ground for pit waste in the 19th century. From the many bore-holes we sampled we could not find any evidence of this and in general the subsoil seems to be very dry, consisting mainly of gritty sandy soil over a bed of light grey sandy clay.

Test Pit 5



Test Pits

In our first test pit in the central area of our site we immediately hit a bank of sandy clay just below the surface. The texture was different and more yellowy orange in colour than the bore-hole clay so we suspect it was not natural. In test Pit 2 just to the south of the first we immediately hit black soil filled will rubble. We decided to extend this pit this rubble feature turned out to be a large ditch almost a metre deep filled with rubble and cinder. All pottery recovered was no older than Victorian. However right at the bottom, large cobbles began to appear embedded in denser clay, which seamed to disappear into the sandy clay bank from the first pit. Could this be the base of the Road? Test pit 3 was positioned further south from 2 and produced sandy black soil over a bed of sandy clay. Further test pit to the south of this produced similar results.
We therefore decided to open another test pit to the north of our first to see if we could find the extent of the bank of sandy clay. Before starting this we ran the resistivity meter along the line of our datum to see if we could pick up any anomalies. On the edge of the wood there was a sudden rise in resistivity so our final test pit went in here. Unfortunately the anomaly fail to appear so we will have to wait until this weekend for the final verdict.


On Tuesday last week Sharon Saunders of the Parks and Gardens department came to view our progress. She was so impressed she has promised to provide us with a small excavator so that we can open other trenches to the west of our present line. This will enable us to establish if the ditch we found in pit 2 is a linear feature or just a local pit.
By the way the gazebos we bought have proved a big success providing a relaxing area for tired-out archaeologists. A big surprise has been the interest from the local community as well as the public in general. Mark has set up an information board and I have spent more time conducting tours of the site than digging. (One lady even wanted to touch the cobble surface of what we had described as being the Roman Road.)




Next Meeting

Wednesday 2nd July at the BP Centre (Scout HQ) in Greenough Street, at 7.30 pm as usual. The speaker this month is our resident Egyptologist John Johnson who will be talking about Egypt in the Pre-Dynastic period. Hope to see you there.

Atherton Developments

Work has begun on a site in Atherton by a team from Manchester University. Initial results are very encouraging and the team very confident the site will reveal significant finds from a range of period (even Roman). I will reveal more in the next newsletter. B.A.