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No.114 June 2008

Monthly Newsletter

Joint Service Centre Potential

Ian Miller, of Oxford Archaeology North, has confirmed that the first major excavations in the Wigan town centre, since the Grand Arcade dig, will begin next week behind the Municipal buildings in Millgate. Ian is confident that yet more evidence of Wigan’s Roman past will be found in this significant area of central Wigan. His unit have already detected Roman and even Iron Age material in this area during trial trenching last summer (see Newsletter 106). The area will incorporate the Weind excavations of 1982/3, when a cobbled surface was detected and several woodenframed buildings. Ian is hoping that he will be able to establish the link between this industrial site and the bathhouse complex found further down the hill in 2005. This time the work will last for a couple of month’s and Ian has indicated that volunteers from our society would be welcome to join the excavations. This could be a great opportunity for us to get involved in discovering more of Wigan’s Roman heritage.

Close but no Cigar

Seems like our excitement at discovering the Roman Road at Ince Primary School proved to be a little premature. After re-opening the site and extending it in both directions, our previously discovered cobble feature turned out to be no more than a natural glacial deposit. Our extension on the north side showed that the stoney feature continued beyond the previously detected ditch feature; whereas on the south side the feature just terminated with a natural sand fill. Extending the trench westwards to expose the surface also demonstrated that the feature had no coherent structure. The large cobbles found in the initial dig could not be found elsewhere bringing us to the conclusion that this must have been just a localised deposit. The full-depth section in the picture shows a well defined dark band of plough soil lying under the demolition debris of the Victorian houses. A thin black organic layer separates the two - probably representing an open field before the houses were built. The stoney layer can just be seen way below the plough soil under the thick layer of clean sand. It’s hard to interpret the feature as anything other than a natural deposit (Steve Hewlit who visited the site last week also came to the same conclusion). There are still one or two areas to check out on the other side of George St but otherwise this phase of the project will soon be finished. A glowing success however has been the interest of the school children who paid constant attention to our work (even taking stones home with them as souvenirs).

Rectory Survey

We are planning a survey training day for Sunday 8th June in the grounds of the Rectory (Wigan Hall). Starting in the morning I will demonstrate the use of the resistivity meter (both marking out and logging readings). Then in the afternoon I will show how the logged data is downloaded onto the computer and how we analyse the results. If you are interested in this project contact me at the meeting.

Bolton Archaeology and Egyptology Society

Members of our society are invited to attend a lecture hosted by the renowned BBC presenter Julian Richards (BBC1 series Meet the Ancestors) and Dr. Caroline Wilkinson. The lecture is organised by the BAES and will take place on Wednesday 17th September at the Victoria Hall in Knowsley St Bolton. Ticket prices are £5 in advance or £7 on the door (half price for under 16’s). We will also arrange a coach for the evening if there are enough people wanting to attend.

Trip to Mellor

There is still time to book your place on this outing which is planned for Sunday 14th September. The trip will start with a guided tour of the multi-period excavations in the grounds of the Mellor Church. On display, amongst other things, will be the Pre-historic rock-cut ditch discovered in the early days of the project. Lunch is planned for the Midland bar/restaurant at Marple Bridge (meals start from £4.95). Afterwards we’ll visit Bramhall Hall (entrance £3.95 and £2.95 concession) for a leisurely stroll around this is fine 15th century timber-famed manor house - set in its own spectacular grounds on the outskirts of Stockport.

Next Meeting

Wednesday 4th June usual time usual place. This month we have Bill Shannon from the Lancashire Archaeological Society who will be presenting his talk on ‘Depictions of Hadrian’s Wall before Camdon’.
Hope to see you there B.A.