Is this a tantalising glimpse of the Roman Road from Manchester to Wigan? Our lads in the field certainly think so. The section was exposed in their latest excavations in the playing fields of Ince C of E Primary School. These digs are the final phase of the project which has involved many schools from around the Wigan district. Prior to this discovery an area 6m by 2m had been opened up for the children to have a go at finding something for themselves. Seven schools were involved including St William's, St Catherine's, St Patrick's, Britannia Bridge, Rose Bridge, St John Fisher and of course Ince C of E. As with the previous excavations at St William's the kids showed great enthusiasm and are keen to follow up the experience on future digs given the opportunity.
After the schools had finished, our field team, headed by Mark and Brian, continued excavating but on this site only colliery residue could be found (to a depth of 2m). They then opened up a new site closer to George Street and this is where, at a depth of about 1m, the suspected road section was detected. It consisted of a band of mixed gravel, greyblue clay/brown clay, cobbles and flat stones about 50cm thick at the SW side, tapering to 20cm at the other. The NE end seemed to terminate in a ditch-like feature. Only 4.5m of the section was exposed but if we assume the thickest end was the centre then the road could be assumed to be 9m wide (with the SW end lining up with the centre of George St).
It appears that the houses on the NE side of George St may have been built right on top of the section with the red sand being used to level the site prior to construction. Further excavations are planned so that its full extent and direction can be determined. If it can be confirmed that this is the Roman road it certainly would be great discovery for the Society - adding to our previous success in Walmesley Park in 2003.
Wigan Hall (Rectory)
Last month, Tom, Eric and I met with the rector of All Saints Parish Church, Ray Hutchinson, to discuss possibilities of us doing some research in the grounds of the Hall. Following the death, last year, of the previous rector, Malcolm Forrest, the building and land is to be sold for redevelopment. This will go towards paying for the Hall to be refurbished (a Grade 2 listed dating to the 1880's). Before this happens however we could do some useful work on this very prestigious site which may date from the earliest part the Middle Ages. The Hall itself stands on a raised platform but whether this is artificial or not is not clear (there is also reference to it once being moated). Looking at early maps it is clear that the present hall was built on the same site as the earlier hall. However the entrance to the grounds from Frog Lane (where the gatehouse is) was moved when the present hall was built - pushing Frog Lane further towards the town centre. Certainly there are a number of areas where resistivity surveys could be carried out and a topographic survey would also reveal the shape of the raised platform. Tom has suggested we should have a survey training day and this site could provide the ideal opportunity.
Excavations have also continued on this site with the drain feature, discovered last month, being fully exposed. A theory now is that this stone covered drain ran down the side and an old cart road, a possibly previous alignment of Ince Green Lane.
A visit to the Mellor excavations has been suggested for Sunday 14th September. This multi-period site, which lies on the western edge of the Peak District, has been excavated by members of the local community under the guidance of the GMAU (see Newsletter 94). Excavations will have finished for the season however the site will be left open for our guided tour. If you are interested in this trip please fill out the form provided.
Wednesday 7th May usual time usual place. This month we have our Egyptologist in residence John Johnson, who will be telling us about the latest excavation developments on the west bank of the Nile, at the famous mortuary temple site of Amenhotep III. As mentioned last month, John has organised a special event at the JJB on Saturday 5th July where two international Egyptologists will speak. John's talk will preview his day-long conference. Before this, however, we will be convening a short EGM so that we can process the proposed changes to our constitution.
Hope to see you there B.A.