January turned out to be one of the wettest months on record. Despite this we manage to undertake a series of excavations in St William's School playing fields in search of the Roman Road. We were also able to involve children from this school and two others in the Wigan area - Ince CE Primary and Kingsdown High.
We started on Friday 18th using a hired excavator (skilfully driven by Mark Hayward), clearing a 10m area along the old school wall to prepare the site. A 1m wide test pit was then opened 6m from the wall and 14m in from the south corner. Working southwards, the trench was opened to a depth of 50cm. It soon became apparent that the underlying sub-soil at this location was a deep fill of ash. It was also apparent that the water table here was quite high and would therefore cause problems during deeper excavations.
It was decided for safety reasons that the area prepared for the school children would be restricted to no more than 40cm deep. An area 6m x 3m was marked out for this purpose 20m from the corner and 7m from the wall. We also took the opportunity to dig a 1m square test pit by hand (to minimise field disturbance) on the other side of the 10m line, 17m from the corner. Its location was positioned over the anomaly picked up on the resistivity survey. Again, the water table was reached at 50cm. This time, however, the fill consisted of soil and builders rubble. It became obvious that this represented the feature detected by the survey, and not the Roman Road, which if it exists must be at a much deeper level.