Another great festival weekend with eleven volunteers on our Toddingtons site on Saturday and a further nine on Sunday (including seven members of the general public). We also had a good number of visitors stopping by over the two days to inquire about what we were up to. As explained in last month's newsletter, we have returned this site to investigate a couple of loose ends left over from our work here in 2017. Our excavations then had revealed tantalising evidence of a hard surface lying below the well made early 19th century road. Site restriction had prevented us from taking this any further. However further north on the other side of the lane, the 1849 OS map shows the road extending a few metres beyond the current fence line. Also in this area, a well is marked, not shown on later maps - could we find that as well.
We started our excavations at the beginning of the month with a 3x1m test pit located, hopefully, to find both the road and the well. Luckily for us we weren't far off, as almost straight away 18th century brickwork began to show up in the southwest corner. Over the following few weeks, as we developed the trench, stone structure as well as more brickwork emerged and eventually the well itself was revealed. It had survived in remarkable good condition, having been solidly built in stone with flagged area in front. After some effort removing the fill, its depth was revealed to be about a metre with a flagstone base. Its construction date is difficult to determine but the brickwork, which may be a later addition, looks to be late 18th century.
Our search for the old road has also been successful with a large area of compacted stonework being revealed stretching 3 metres into the field beyond the fence line. We've yet to determine whether this is the early 19th century road or something earlier. A nice feature inserted into the compacted stonework however, could give us an indication of its age, i.e. a wooden post complete with packing stones. Part of the post has survived remarkably intact, complete with an iron bolt suggesting a possible hinge fitting. A packing stone construction suggests an early date which would make the compacted stonework even earlier. We will be continuing our work here over the next month or so and you can follow our activities on our blog site here.
This has been arranged for Sunday 25th August when we will be visiting excavations of a medieval iron smelting site on Holcombe Moor near Ramsbottom. Beforehand, in the morning, we're hoping to arrange a guided tour of the new Egyptian galleries at Bolton Museum. Please let me know as soon as possible if you are interested in going.
Wednesday 3rd July - at our new venue The Bellingham (7.30pm as usual). This month we have Ken Richmond whose talk is entitled 'The Pre-industrial History of Wigan'. Ken is a founder member of our Society which we formed out of an 'O' Level course in Archaeology at Wigan Tech in 1982. In those days we met above the Clarence Hotel in Wallgate with meetings every week and trips out every month - such was our enthusiasm. We published a yearly journal and had a week's holiday in the summer months (one time staying in a holiday house near Glastonbury and another in a converted farmhouse near Lake Vyrnwy mid Wales). Our fieldwork included the recording of a timberframed building known as the pram shop, in Standishgate before it got demolished. The internal framework of first floor rooms was filled with wattle and daub panelling suggesting a Tudor origin but this wasn't enough to save the building. Ken has been busy writing a book on the subject of his talk which I'm sure it will be very interesting - hope to see you there, BA.