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No.102 April 2007

Monthly Newsletter

Survey Success at St William's School

Last month's resistivity survey of the playing fields behind St William's RC School on Ince Green Lane has produced a very positive result. Despite intense industrial activity in the area, it looks like we could well have detected the line of the Roman Road. This particular area was chosen because of the projected line from the well defined section on the 1849 map at Amberswood Common. Initially we thought the site had escaped the ravages of industrialisation but on further investigation we found two railway lines crossing the area at various times in the nineteenth century. However, the detected feature does not correspond with either of them but tends to follow the line of our projection. (Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that the red projection lines which indicate the line of the Road, cross the old school at a lower point than on my previous maps (newsletter No.99). I'm not cheating - the first projection I did was wrong and I did corrected it before we carried out the survey - honest.)

The next step would obviously be to excavate but there is a problem, - this is a school playing field maintained by the Local Education Authority. As expected they are not keen on us disrupting the school's term-time activities. However, in order not to miss this great opportunity to get all the local schools involved in their local heritage, Tom has been in contact with the LEA and has so far received a positive response from them. The school headmaster is very keen, as are the school governors, so hopefully in the next few weeks we should be able to proceed.

Roman Fort in Wigan?

More exciting news is coming from the post-excavation work being carried out by Oxford Archaeology North on the 2005 bathhouse excavations. This includes the strongest evidence yet for the presence of a Roman fort in the heart of the town centre. Military style wooden tent pegs have turned up in the environmental samples taken from the vee-shaped ditch found in the Ship Yard excavations. Although on the shallow side, this ditch (see newsletter No.81), has alone been enough to convinced Ian Miller, of Oxford Archaeology North, that there was more than just a civilian settlement at Wigan. These latest finds may well prove him right.
Another remarkable find is a quantity of cube shaped tiles. Ian is reluctant to call them tesseri as they are too big - 6.5cm (2.5") cubed - but they are made of the same material as the other tiles. My theory is that that they were used as filling-in pieces between the floor tiles in the hypocaust rooms. Hypocaust floors were generally made of two layers of large tiles (0.5m square) to bridge the gaps between the columns (pilae). As the cubes are the same thickness they could be decorative pieces in the gaps between the floor tiles (just a thought).

Tragic Loss

It is with great sadness we have to report the death of one of our long-term members. Charles Smith died suddenly at work last month; he was 57. Charles worked as a joiner and it was while he was working away in Crew that he collapsed and died of heart failure. He was Mandy Singleton's brother-in-law and had been a member of the society for over 10 years. He was very supportive of all our activities, hardly missing any of our meetings and trips and he will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his wife, Sheila (Mandy's sister) and all his family.

Allowance Adjustment

At our next meeting Tom wants to discuss our current spending allowance. i.e. The amount that the committee can spend without having to present it at a full meeting. This is currently at £50, but with the prospect of a high-profile project on the horizon, this figure may need to be increased.

Next WAS Meeting

Wednesday 4th April at the District Scout HQ (Baden Powell Centre) in Greenough Street, starting at 7.30 pm as usual.. This month's speaker is Dot Brun who is the Finds Liaison officer for Lancashire and Cumbria. Based in Preston's Military Museum, she is the person to contact if you need to report any artefact that you may think is of antiquity. She will be bringing us all the recent news on the work of the Portable Antiques Scheme (www.finds.org.uk).

Hope to see you there. B.A.