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Historic Environment Fieldwork Full Summary

Main heading

Sub-heading

1999 :: 2000 :: 2001 :: 2002 :: 2003 :: 2004

 

Fieldwork 1999

Congleton

Harbutts Field, King Street, Middlewich (Scheduled Monument Consent). Evidence of Roman activity, in the form of pits, gullies, clay floors, and other structural features, was encountered during the course of this Watching Brief, which was undertaken during the construction of a new sewer. The Watching Brief was carried out as a condition of Scheduled Monument Consent, as the new sewer runs parallel and immediately adjacent to the eastern length of the southern defences of the scheduled Roman fort.

Land at the Commons, Sandbach (ref. 30367/3). This site, where a new retail unit was under construction, lies on the edge of Sandbach's Area of Archaeological Potential, as defined in Congleton Borough Local Plan (1998). Observations during the course of development work led to the recovery of evidence of post-medieval activity, in the form of pits and a well.

Land at Swan Bank, Congleton (ref. 29222/3). This site lies within Congleton's Area of Archaeological Potential, as defined in Congleton Borough Local Plan (1998). In fact, groundworks did not penetrate to a depth sufficient to intrude on any significant deposits, although traces of an eighteenth-century wall, brick-lined pits, and a deep garden soil were revealed. Some of these features were set into an extensive but undated deposit which may mask and protect earlier remains.

Land at Kinderton Hall Farm, off Holmes Chapel Road, Middlewich (ref. 30862/3). Evidence of Roman activity, in the form of pits associated with salt making and gullies, was encountered during the course of this Watching Brief, which was undertaken during groundworks prior to the residential development of the area. In addition, traces of a Roman road, in the form of metalling and roadside ditches, were identified. The road may represent the route running from Middlewich to Manchester. The remains of a single urned cremation were recovered from the top fills of one of the roadside ditches.

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Crewe and Nantwich

St James Court, Churchfields, Audlem (ref P99/0490). An undated but possibly early gully was recorded in one of the foundation trenches during construction of an extension and new garage for the existing property.

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Vale Royal

Winnington CHP Project. An Archaeological Watching Brief was maintained during construction of a new combined heat and power plant and associated overhead power line at Winnington, on the northern outskirts of Northwich. An earlier Desk-Based Assessment had suggested that the works might disturb significant archaeological deposits. In particular, a number of Roman sites were known from the vicinity of the proposed works, including the junction of Watling Street and Kings Street, although it was unclear how much of this evidence would have survived the large-scale changes in the landscape caused by recent salt working. In the event, few features of archaeological significance were recorded.

Land at 63 Main Street, Frodsham (ref 4/34447). An Archaeological Evaluation demonstrated that significant archaeological deposits did not survive on the site.

Land at Fishpool Lane, Delamere. An Archaeological Watching Brief was maintained during construction of a new access road from Fishpool Lane to the sand extraction site. The road's course passes immediately to the east of one of the barrows that make up the Seven Lows barrow cemetery, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM 23644). In the event, the impact of the road was mitigated by the restricted depth of topsoil stripping and only one undated feature was excavated.

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Fieldwork 2000

Congleton

Land off King Street, Middlewich (ref 31749/3) Evidence of extensive and well-preserved Roman activity was encountered during the evaluation of an area of land between King Street and the River Croco, prior to the submission of a planning application for residential development. The archaeological deposits included structural features such as beam slots and walls, as well as an extensive clay floor. Gullies, postholes and a road, running west from King Street to the river were also revealed. A large quantity of pottery was also recovered, much of it contained in a thick layer of dark sand which extended across most of the eastern part of the evaluation area.

Roldane Mill Site, Congleton (ref pre-application) Evaluation was designed to test for the survival of below-ground archaeological remains within and around the Old Mill (part of the Roldane Mill complex), on the north bank of the River Dane, Congleton. Evidence for the post-medieval corn mill was located but the site of the medieval north bridge chapel was not identified and it probably lies outside the proposed development area. The site of the Old Mill’s wheel pit was also not located, although subsequent more detailed documentary work succeeded pinpointing its position.

Land at 26 Howey Lane, Congleton (ref 31004/1). A Watching Brief was maintained during excavation of the foundation trenches for a new bungalow, to check for evidence of a putative Roman road. No traces of metalling or roadside ditches were detected.

Land at 20/20A Lewin Street, Middlewich (32002/3). Excavations were conducted to the rear of the present street frontage, in advance of the construction of new flats. Previous evaluation work had demonstrated the presence of medieval deposits and more extensive excavation revealed a property boundary and an extensive but irregular pit, both of which produced medieval pottery dating to the 13th and 14th centuries. A coin of the late 13th century was also recovered.

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Crewe and Nantwich

The former Lamb public house, Audlem (ref P99/0866). Excavation of the plot to the rear of the former inn, following an earlier evaluation, revealed the remains of a late medieval corn-drying oven. The circular pit was line with stones, with a flue to west. Traces of burnt grain survived within the structure. The site lies immediately to the north of the church and south of the point where the medieval pottery kiln excavated in the 1940s. A scatter of medieval and post-medieval pits, postholes, and ditches extended across the site, although medieval pottery was rare, despite the proximity of the kiln site.

The church of St James, Audlem (ref Diocesan Advisory Committee). A Watching Brief was maintained during the widening of the boiler room access passage, which passes under the west front of the church of St James, Audlem. No great depth of deposits was recorded in the trench, although some disarticulated human remains were recovered. In addition, the foundation trench of the church’s west front was exposed and seen to be cut into laminated deposits of glacial sand and clay. These deposits were clearly natural and showed that the mound on which the church sits had not been artificially heightened.

The Church of St Mary, Nantwich (ref Diocesan Advisory Committee). A Watching Brief was maintained during works connected with improvements to the heating system at the church. No significant archaeological deposits were encountered within the church but, where a short trench was dug from the north wall of the chancel to an existing main, human remains were encountered at a depth of c 1m. The burials were recorded but were not lifted and disturbance was limited to that necessary to lay the new pipe. The burials were sealed by a mixed layer of graveyard soil and a 19th-century cobbled surface. At the southern end of the trench, the foundations of the north wall of the chancel, consisting of sandstone blocks, were exposed and bored through to accommodate the new pipe.

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Ellesmere Port and Neston

Ince Manor, Ince. During March and April 2000 an archaeological evaluation was undertaken at Ince Manor. The site is scheduled and represents a well-preserved medieval manorial complex, which is to undergo a programme of renovation. Trenches were excavated inside and outside the surviving medieval buildings, revealing a variety of rock-cut features including postholes, gullies, and a backfilled cellar. Medieval floor levels and other indications of stratigraphic complexity were absent. The foundations of the medieval walls were examined and, in several cases, were seen to rest directly on bedrock, without the benefit of foundation trenches. In addition, it was demonstrated that architectural detail had been preserved in almost pristine condition, at the base of the medieval walls, by the build up of topsoil in the courtyard.

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Macclesfield

Gawsworth Hall, Gawsworth (ref Scheduled Ancient Monument) An Archaeological Watching Brief was maintained during works associated with the construction of a new tea room at Gawsworth Hall. The site lay on the northern edge of the hall’s formal gardens, which are a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Damage to archaeological deposits was minimised by restricting disturbance to the topsoil and no significant archaeological remains were uncovered.

21 King Edward Street, Macclesfield (ref 99/0618P) An Archaeological Watching Brief was maintained during groundworks associated with the re-development of the site, which lies on the northern edge of the area occupied by medieval Macclesfield. Disturbance of the site proved to be severe and had removed all traces of earlier structures on the site, apart from the recently demolished building.

The Old Mill, off The Village, Prestbury (ref 99/0232P) An Archaeological Evaluation was undertaken on this site, which is known to have been occupied by a mill since the medieval period. The Evaluation demonstrated severe disturbance across much of the site, much of it associated with the recent use of the site as a garage. Traces of the mill pond and mill fabric were, however, detected.

Shirley’s Drive, Prestbury (ref 99/1297P) An Archaeological Watching Brief was maintained during groundworks carried out during re-development of the site for housing. The site lies immediately adjacent to St Peter’s churchyard, in the centre of Prestbury’s historic settlement core. Unfortunately, disturbance of the site proved to have been severe, with much recent dumping of material, and no archaeological deposits were encountered.

Plumley Limebeds, Plumley (ref Cheshire County Council Strategic Programme of Reclamation) An Archaeological Survey was carried out on land which is being reclaimed as part of Cheshire County Council’s Strategic Programme of Reclamation. The site is currently woodland but preserves traces of an early 20th-century chemical works, including a soda ash plant, First World War munitions factory, and possible blast-proof warehouse. The survey provided new topographical data and will be used to inform proposals for the stabilisation of the site and preservation of significant remains.

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Vale Royal

Bridge Farm to Birch Heath Pipeline. An Archaeological Watching Brief was maintained during construction of the new Transco gas pipeline from Bridge Farm to Birch Heath. The pipeline had been designed to avoid all known significant archaeological sites and the aim of the Watching Brief was to record any unexpected archaeological discoveries. No major sites were revealed but a number of undated field boundaries and ditches were recorded. In Chester district, however, the pipeline uncovered one late prehistoric and one Roman settlement. The results of these excavations are described in reports in the Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society, 77 for 2002.

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Warrington

Friarsgate, Warrington (ref 97/37134).  Excavations were undertaken at Friarsgate, on the site of Warrington’s medieval Augustinian friary between January and April 2000. Well-preserved remains of the north wall of the friary’s nave and the north transept were uncovered. Evidence for the post-dissolution use and modification of the friary buildings was also revealed. A large number of burials, totalling more than 100, were also excavated. Many of these appear to be post-medieval in date and demonstrate the continued use of the friary church for burial, as well as worship, in the years following the friary’s closure. The main friary walls have been preserved and displayed within the new development on the site. A report on the excavations by Richard Heawood et al of Oxford Archaeology North may be found in the Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society, 77, for 2002.

Numbers 21-23 Manchester Road, Warrington (ref A00/41152). An archaeological evaluation of this site, which lies at the northern end of the 19th-century extension to St Elphin’s churchyard did not reveal any evidence of the Roman road that has supposedly been recognised in this area. In addition, no deposits associated with the site of the nearby, but now demolished, castle were detected.

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Fieldwork 2001

Congleton

The Former ERF Sun Works, Sandbach (ref 32478/1). A Watching Brief was maintained during clearance of those parts of the site which documentary research had shown to be of potential archaeological interest. Disturbance proved to be extensive but traces of a large pond, the cellars of a 19th-century sawmill, and the footings of 19th-century housing were recorded.

Land off King Street, Middlewich (Fairclough Homes site) (refs 32194/3). Following an earlier evaluation of this site, full excavation in advance of housing development began in June. Removal of the topsoil revealed a sizeable portion of the civilian settlement that developed to the south of the Harbutts Field Roman fort.

The evidence included ditches, which appear to have separated properties fronting onto King Street and evidence of buildings in the form of postholes, foundation trenches, and floor surfaces. A number of pits were also excavated and the larger examples were waterlogged and still lined with wickerwork, presumably to prevent collapse of the sides. A timber-lined well was also excavated. These features, some of which may have been brine wells, produced a number of wooden and organic artefacts, including leather fragments, a wooden writing tablet, and a fragment of barrel lid stamped with the inscription ‘LEV’, probably an owner’s mark.

A well-preserved length of Roman road was also excavated. The road ran from east to west and was not on any previously recognised alignment. The construction of the road was too substantial to represent a minor road leading to back yards and the likelihood is that it led to a former crossing of the River Croco. A section of this road is to be preserved within the development.

The excavations produced a wealth of finds including much pottery, including both imported fine wares and locally produced material. Also recovered were quantities of briquetage, the coarse clay objects used in the salt industry, which appears to have been a vital component of Middlewich’s Roman economy. Metal objects were also discovered and included coins, brooches, personal items such as tweezers, and a fine bronze object, which appears to be a saucepan lid. A full report on the work is currently being prepared for publication.

Numbers 8-14 Moody Street, Congleton (ref 32820/3). An Evaluation was conducted to the rear of the present street frontage, in advance of the construction of new flats. The frontage is occupied by timber-framed buildings of 17th-century date and it was expected that contemporary deposits would be present in the area to the rear. In the event, it was demonstrated that the ground had been severely truncated in the recent past, probably during car park construction, and no archaeological deposits survived.

Land off Centurion Way, Middlewich (refs 32246/1 and 32247/1). An Evaluation was undertaken of this extensive area of open ground to the south-west of Middlewich’s north-west bypass. The southern part of the site was largely devoid of archaeological features but in the northern half linear features, which appear to form part of a Roman field system were detected. One of the enclosures appeared to contain the truncated remains of a Roman salt-boiling hearth.

The Old Red Lion, London Road, Holmes Chapel (ref 33103/1). A Watching Brief was maintained during the reduction of ground levels and excavation of foundation trenches for an extension to the rear of this 17th-century building. A number of structural features were recorded and a quantity of post-medieval pottery recovered.

Land between Holmes Chapel Road and Prosperity way, Middlewich (refs 32473/1). An Evaluation and subsequent Excavation were undertaken on area of land within the Midpoint 18 Industrial Estate. The work revealed traces of an extensive Roman field system made up of shallow ditches, interspersed with much larger features, which appear to have had a drainage function. Many of the small fields were empty and may have had an agricultural function but some contained pits filled with salt making debris. In one enclosure a small Roman kiln, still containing a number of failed pots or ‘wasters’, was excavated.

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Crewe and Nantwich

The A500 Basford, Hough, Shavington Bypass (ref HA). A combination of field walking, geophysical survey, metal detecting, and trial trenching was used to investigate a number of potential sites along the proposed bypass, which had been identified by an earlier Desk-Based Assessment. At the most significant site, fieldwalking and metal detecting recovered a collection of later 17th and 18th-century artefacts from the ploughsoil. Trial trenching, however, failed to reveal any significant features and several of the geophysical anomalies proved to be natural deposits. This particular site may represent evidence of ephemeral activity, perhaps a fair, at the point where three parishes meet.

The Moathouse Estate Valley Road, Crewe (ref P00/245). An Archaeological Evaluation was carried out on the site of a medieval moat, which had been levelled in the 1960s and covered by housing. Evaluation, following the demolition of the buildings revealed that any features on the moat platform had been entirely destroyed but well-preserved deposits survived in the moat ditches. These, however, lay at a depth where they would not be affected by the site’s redevelopment.

The A500 Basford, Hough, Shavington Bypass (ref HA). Evaluation works were completed at two sites, Rope Farm and land off Crewe Road, Shavington. At Rope Farm trial trenching proved negative but at Crewe Road geophysical survey and trial trenching revealed evidence of a number of early 19th-century brick kilns. These were subsequently excavated and proved to be of simple construction with the bricks laid on a bed of wooden fuel, with no complex superstructure. The work provides a valuable illustration of the form of a type of site which, on the basis of field names, is extremely common in the county.

Land off Second Wood Street, Welsh Row, Nantwich (ref P00/1084 and 1086). An Archaeological Evaluation was carried out on land either side of Second Wood Street, off Welsh Row, Nantwich. This encompassed land to the rear of The Cheshire Cat, a 17th-century timber framed building and a part of the street frontage. Welsh Row originated as a medieval suburb and was at the heart of Nantwich’s medieval and post-medieval salt industry. The site was very wet and organic preservation was exceptional with timber barrels, plank-lined channels, and the remains of timber-framed buildings all recognised. The site sequence appears to extend from the medieval period through to the 18th century, with evidence for both domestic and industrial (salt making) activity.

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Ellesmere Port and Neston

Ince Manor, Ince Further fieldwork was carried out at Ince Manor in connection with the restoration of the buildings by the Cheshire Historic Buildings Trust. The latest investigations consisted of the archaeological excavation of deposits that have to be removed as part of the restoration scheme. In the Great Hall, floor levels have been lowered by c 0.25m to accommodate a new floor. All of the deposits removed were of later post-medieval date. Three test pits were also excavated at the north end of the Hall, to examine the foundations and structural stability of the north wall. In places the wall appeared to rest directly on bed rock but elsewhere the wall was underpinned by a rubble foundation which filled a large rock-cut feature.

Numbers 1-4 Stanlow Point, Stanlow Island (ref P2001/121). A Watching Brief was maintained during the demolition of a row of terraced houses, which lay immediately adjacent to the site of Stanlow Abbey, a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The aims of the Watching Brief were to check for the presence of fragments of reused and worked stone from the abbey and to see if any deposits associated with the abbey, whose layout is poorly understood, were revealed by the demolition of the buildings and grading of the site. No in situ deposits were revealed by the Watching Brief.

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Macclesfield

Twibells Yard, Mobberley (ref 00/619P). An Archaeological Watching Brief was maintained during the redevelopment of land At Twibells Yard, Mobberley, which lies on the site of the village’s medieval corn mill and a 19th-century textile mill. Various features associated with the 19th-century mill were identified and recorded including a brick culvert, a stone-capped drain, and numerous walls.

St Michael and All Angels Church, Macclesfield (ref Diocesan Advisory Committee). Proposals have been formulated for the reordering of the church interior and a programme of archaeological work was designed to ensure that provision is made to observe any works that may affect below-ground archaeological remains. The excavation of two test pits, outside the west front of the church was observed, although no significant archaeological deposits were revealed.

Plumley Limebeds, Plumley (ref Cheshire County Council Strategic Programme of Reclamation). An Archaeological Watching Brief was carried out on land which is to be reclaimed as part of Cheshire County Council’s Strategic Programme of Reclamation. The site is currently woodland but preserves traces of an early 20th-century chemical works, including a soda ash plant, First World War munitions factory, and possible blast-proof warehouse. The Watching Brief was maintained during the excavation of geo-technical test pits on the site, which were excavated during preliminary works associated with the reclamation of the site.

Plumley Limebeds, Plumley (ref Cheshire County Council Strategic Programme of Reclamation). Further archaeological Survey work, undertaken as part of Cheshire County Council’s Strategic Programme of Reclamation, was completed at Plumley Limebeds. This final stage of work comprised a detailed survey of the early 20th-century buttressed warehouse in the centre of the site. This complimented the existing topographic survey of the remains of the chemical works.

Little Moreton Hall. Survey work was carried out on behalf of the National Trust, as part of a wider programme of land-use investigation on the estate. Post-medieval farm buildings were surveyed and the locations of two water mill sites plotted. A scatter of slag from an iron bloomery was identified.

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Vale Royal

Number 12 High Street, Weaverham (ref 4/36161). A Watching Brief was maintained during groundworks associated with the construction of an extension to the existing property. In addition some standing building recording was undertaken during alterations to the building and demolition of outbuildings.

Land off David Street, Northwich (ref 2001/0924). An Evaluation was carried out across this area, following the submission of proposals for the development of the land for housing. The site lies to the south of Northwich’s Roman fort and surrounding settlement, on a terrace overlooking the River Weaver. There seemed every probability that Roman activity would prove to exist in this area. In the event, trial trenching conclusively demonstrated that Roman activity did not extend into this area. This reinforces the impression that activity around the Roman fort at Northwich was quite limited in extent.

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Warrington

Land at Barbauld Street, Warrington (ref pre application). Within the historic core of the town, an archaeological evaluation was undertaken at Barbauld Street, immediately opposite the site of the recent excavations at the Friary. Despite the proximity to the west front of the friary church, related archaeological deposits were not revealed. The only features present were a series of post-medieval drains.

Stockton Heath, Warrington (refs A00/41515 and 42253). In Stockton Heath evaluations were undertaken in advance of development at Victoria Square and at the former British Legion site, off Egerton Street. At the former site, archaeological deposits were entirely absent, suggesting this area was to the east of the zone occupied in the Roman period, whilst Roman deposits were located at Egerton Street. This site is much closer to the line of the Roman road and Roman activity was not unexpected. All features, however, had been badly truncated by 19th-century sand quarrying.

Land at Millbank, Greenalls Avenue, Wilderspool (ref pre application). Evaluation demonstrated widespread destruction of archaeological deposits across the site during earlier sand extraction, although well-preserved Roman remains were identified in the extreme north-east corner of the site. The aim of the subsequent Watching brief was to ensure that these deposits were not disturbed further and to achieve their preservation in situ. This was achieved by close monitoring of the contractors in this area and ensuring that there was no significant ground disturbance.

Land at Peel Hall (ref pre application). An extensive area of land immediately to the south of the M62 was evaluated. A medieval moated site, the original Peel Hall, lies at the centre of the site, and trenching demonstrated that well-preserved waterlogged deposits survived in the ditches. These included the remains of a possible bridge. Across most of the surrounding area, trenching did not reveal archaeological remains but in the north-east corner of the site, a series of ditches was recognised. These remain undated at present but their form may suggest a connection with a late prehistoric sub-rectangular enclosure, which lies to the north of the motorway. If this area is ever developed for housing, it is hoped that the moat can be preserved within any new development. The other area of archaeological interest is likely to require further archaeological investigation.

Land at Loushers Lane School, Wilderspool (ref pre application). Evaluation trenches within the western part of the school complex revealed deep accumulations of modern debris. No evidence of Roman deposits was detected.

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Fieldwork 2002

Congleton

Land off Centurion Way, Middlewich (ref 33929/3). Following an earlier Evaluation of the site, three areas, each measuring 50m square, were excavated prior to development for housing. In two of the areas the shallow, truncated remains of several ditches were excavated. These represent the remains of earlier land division, some of which appear to be Roman in origin. In the third area, more substantial Roman features were recognised. These included a ditched track leading east from the settlement, a rectangular enclosure adjacent to the track, and the remains of a salt-boiling hearth. These results do not compare with those from the core area of Roman Middlewich but they do provide important new data on activity on the periphery of the settlement and the layout of the surrounding landscape.

Builder Centre, Lewin Street, Middlewich (ref 32408/3). A Developer Funded Watching Brief was maintained during the demolition of an outbuilding in the yard to the rear of the main warehouse. Superficially, the building appeared modern but earlier inspection had revealed an early roof (previously recorded to the specification of the Borough’s Conservation Officer). During the Watching Brief the stone footings of the building and some earlier floor surfaces were recorded. It is suggested that the building was previously timber-framed and that this element was replaced with modern brick during a comparatively recent refurbishment.

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Crewe and Nantwich

Land to the rear of the Cheshire Cat, Welsh Row, Nantwich (ref P00/1084). A Watching Brief was undertaken during the excavation of a new cellar to the rear of the timber-framed 17th-century building. The cellar was excavated through a deep deposit of organic material, which included a number of wooden artefacts, probably connected with the salt industry, and leather offcuts. The finds are currently being conserved.

Land at Kingsley Fields (ref P01/1286). Excavation work at Kingsley Fields by the University of Manchester Archaeological Unit continued over the summer revealed an extensive Roman settlement complex extending over more than 1ha. The site, which appears to have been linked to the Roman road network by a spur off the Whitchurch to Middlewich road has produced evidence of post hole buildings, extensive areas of pitting, cremation burials, and areas of burning. The site is extremely wet and many of the features were waterlogged and preserved organic material, including leather, wooden off cuts, and wattle linings to the pits.

Most spectacular were two large cisterns or reservoirs in the south-east corner of the site. These were lined with an initial layer of clay, with an inner lining of planks, held in place by a timber frame. Preservation conditions were excellent in both features and they have produced a number of wooden artefacts including a bucket, a bowl and several spades or large paddles. Large quantities of pottery and metalwork have also been recovered.

The evidence of the cisterns, the areas of burning, the wooden paddles, and the site’s location make it almost certain that the site was heavily involved in salt production. Roman activity was previously known at Nantwich but the scale of the site and the quality of preservation were not predicted. Much remains to be done in the post-excavation phase of work but it is already clear that the site marks a major advance in our knowledge of Roman Cheshire.

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Ellesmere Port and Neston

Land at Sutton New Hall Farm, Ellesmere Port (ref pre-application). Field Evaluation, involving a combination of fieldwalking, geophysical survey, and trail trenching failed to reveal archaeological deposits across the bulk of this extensive site. In one area, however, there were slight indications of Roman activity, perhaps indicative of a ‘native-style- settlement. Further investigations will occur in this area.

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Halton

Land adjacent to Bridgewater House, Percival Lane, Runcorn (ref 32478/1). An Archaeological Watching Brief was maintained during the construction of a new college of education. The area occupies the site of the filled in docks and the aim of the exercise was to detect evidence of the former dockside structures. It soon became apparent that the docks, although largely intact, were deeply buried by a thick layer of overburden. In addition, many of the foundations were pile driven so there were few deep sections exposed. Nevertheless, careful observation of piling operations combined with accurate plotting of the historic map data enabled the survival of particular dock structures to be confirmed and the depth of overburden noted.

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Macclesfield

Mottram Old Hall, Macclesfield (ref 99/2442P). A Watching Brief was maintained during development works at Mottram Old Hall, which occupies the site of a medieval moated site. The development was designed to have a minimal impact on any surviving below-ground archaeological deposits and no significant remains were revealed. Details of some of the surviving 19th-century farm buildings were recorded.

The Royal George, King Street, Knutsford (ref 01/1319P). An Archaeological Evaluation was carried out on land to the rear of the Royal George, which occupies a position on the frontage of the main medieval street through the town. The building is of 18th-century date and proposals have been submitted for the conversion of the structure and erection of new buildings in the surrounding plot. A Desk-Based assessment demonstrated the sites archaeological potential and a series of trenches was cut across the site, to determine the need for any further archaeological mitigation. In the event, the trenching showed that there was no great build up of deposits in the area to the rear of the Royal George and that the only features present were of later post-medieval date. A Watching Brief has been advised to deal with the remaining post-medieval features, during any subsequent development works on the site.

St Hilary’s School, Alderley Edge (ref 00/2284P). An Archaeological Watching Brief was maintained during groundworks associated with the levelling of a section of township boundary bank. The majority of the feature will, however, be preserved within the grounds of the new housing estate that will occupy the former school site. A section was obtained through that part of the bank that was to be levelled. The bank profile was recorded and the deposits sealed beneath the bank examined. In the field, it was thought these might represent a charcoal-rich buried soil but subsequent analysis indicated a layer of iron slag. The bank appears to be medieval in date so this represents a significant discovery, probably indicative of early smithing in the immediate vicinity.

The Old Corn Mill, Bosley (ref 99/1092P). An Archaeological Watching Brief was maintained during groundworks associated with the construction of a new house on the site. A mill is known to have been present on the site since the medieval period, with various phases of rebuilding in the post-medieval period. In the event, no deposits associated with the mill were detected but a section was obtained through the remains of an early 20th-century ice factory. Particular interest attached to the choice of insulator used, which was cork, rather than the more usual mineral wool.

The Alderley Edge Bypass (ref pre application). An Archaeological Evaluation has been carried out along the course of the proposed Alderley Edge bypass. The techniques used included earthwork survey, metal detecting, environmental assessment, topsoil testing, and an extensive programme of trial trenching. This combination of techniques was enough to demonstrate that along much of the route corridor significant archaeological deposits were absent. In one area, however, a number of flint artefacts were recovered from a sandy ridge, which was surrounded by an area of well-preserved peats. Further archaeological mitigation will be carried out in this area, as a condition of any planning consent. A number of other known archaeological features, such as parish and township boundaries, will also require archaeological recording, as part of this programme of archaeological work.

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Vale Royal

Number 87, Witton Street, Northwich (ref 2002/0432). A Watching Brief was maintained during the excavation of foundation trenches for a new extension, to the rear of the building on street frontage. Underlying a deposit of c 1m of disturbed ground, natural sand was revealed. A number of sherds of Roman pottery were recovered from the surface of this deposits and a number of heavily truncated features examined. Despite the poor survival of the archaeological evidence, this is a significant result as it demonstrates the existence of Roman activity on the east bank of the Weaver, presumably alongside the Roman road leading to Manchester.

Cheshire Boreholes Pipeline. A Watching Brief was maintained during topsoil stripping associated with the laying of this pipeline. A number of former field boundaries and a large pond-like depression were recognised.

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Warrington

Land at 26-34 Bridge Street, Warrington (ref A02/45014 and 45038). Trial trenching demonstrated some destruction of archaeological deposits due to recent cellaring. In places, however, cellars had not been excavated and here deposits dating to the medieval and early post-medieval periods were identified. Bridge Street was one of Warrington’s main medieval thoroughfares so the survival of archaeological deposits in this area is particularly significant.

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 Fieldwork 2003

Congleton

Land off Finney’s Lane, Middlewich (ref 34624/3). An Evaluation of this site (the former British Crepe Factory), on the opposite side of the canal to the Harbutts Field Roman fort, revealed evidence of extensive disturbance and dumping of waste materials. In a small part of the site, disturbance was less intense and features cut into the natural subsoil were recognised. Further investigation, however, revealed that these were recent in origin and connected with the site’s use as a piggery during the 1930s.

Land off Lewin Street, Middlewich (ref pre application). Evaluation of an area of land on the east side of Lewin Street, to the north of the canal and south of the Maidenhills housing development did not reveal any archaeological deposits across the bulk of the site. In one area, however, the plough-damaged remains of a Roman road were recognised. This is thought to be the Roman road running south-east from Middlewich towards Elworth and Sandbach. The line of the Roman road was preserved as open space within the development

The Old Mill, Congleton (ref 34576/3). Following an earlier programme of Desk-Based Assessment, Evaluation, and Building Recording, the wheel pit and engine house of the Old Mill Congleton were subject to more detailed investigation, following demolition of the mill building. Several phases of use were identified in the wheel pit, with evidence of alterations and modifications during its period of use.

Land at 38-38 Wheelock Street, Middlewich (ref 35321/1). Evaluation of this site, which extends over an extensive area between Wheelock Street and St Michael’s Way and occupies a significant part of the medieval settlement area, revealed evidence of medieval and early post-medieval activity. Further archaeological mitigation will be needed on this site, prior to development.

Land at the Bullring, Middlewich (ref pre application). An Evaluation of this site, which lies at the western end of the churchyard attached to St Michael’s church, saw the excavation of three test pits. In all three cases the trenching revealed a thick deposit of brick rubble up to 2m deep. This is almost certainly derived from the demolition of the 19th-century town hall and adjacent properties, with infilling of the cellars. The results indicate that the area is unlikely to preserve archaeological deposits.

Land along the proposed Middlewich Eastern Bypass (ref pre application). Initial geophysical scanning along the line of the proposed Middlewich Eastern Bypass was followed by more detailed survey of a number of areas of potential interest. The detailed survey suggested the presence of archaeological features in a number of instances. Trenching of these anomalies revealed the presence of early field boundaries and a sub-rectangular enclosure, possibly of later prehistoric or early Roman date. The data from this work will assist in the formulation of an archaeological mitigation strategy for the bypass.

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Crewe and Nantwich

Land at Mill Street, Nantwich (ref pre-application). An Archaeological Evaluation of land off Mill Street, Nantwich was carried out prior to the submission of a planning application for the redevelopment of the site, which lies close to the site of Nantwich’s medieval castle in an area where well-preserved waterlogged deposits have been detected during a number of previous investigations. A large east-to-west ditch was recognised immediately to the north of Mill Street and it is suspected that this was connected with the castle defences.

Vyrynwy to Woore Ash Pipeline. Following the completion of a Desk Based Assessment, a Watching Brief was maintained during the construction of a new pipeline across the south-east of the county. A number of features were recorded, including several sections through parish and township boundaries.

The Cottage, Kingsley Fields, Nantwich (ref 03/0932). The Cottage, whose site is to be re-developed for flats, lies on the presumed line of the Roman road identified during the recent excavations at Kingsley Fields and close to the large cistern excavated during the same project. Evaluation of the site uncovered Roman pits and gullies in the vicinity of the Cottage and a Watching Brief has been advised during development to record any further evidence.

The Lamb Hotel, Nantwich (ref 03/0206). An archaeological evaluation of this site revealed the presence of deep, organic-rich deposits across the site. These extended back to at least the medieval period as dendrochronological dates from some of the wood preserved on the site produced dates spanning the late 13th to early 14th centuries. The design of the new building was subsequently modified in order to secure the preservation in situ of the bulk of the archaeological deposits.

Land at Second Wood Street, Nantwich (ref 03/0288). Following an earlier evaluation of the site, excavations were carried out in advance of redevelopment. The site proved to contain over 3m of organic deposits, all of which contained fragments of animal bone and medieval pottery. It was, however, the upper part of this deposit which contained the main archaeological remains, which included wood and other organic material due to the waterlogged conditions. These were associated with the salt-making industry and appeared to date to the later medieval and early post-medieval period. The main features included a row of six barrels in a timber channel and, from an earlier phase, a huge hollowed-out log. These were probably used as cisterns for the storage of brine, prior to evaporation. The remains of several timber buildings were also recovered as were collections of pottery, leather, and individual items such as a wooden bowl and a pewter dish.

Land at Clayhanger Hall, Crewe (ref pre application). Following the completion of a Desk Based Assessment, this area was subject to a programme of field evaluation to investigate areas of potential interest, prior to the submission of a planning application for the development of a mineral extraction/waste facility. Trial trenches were cut at various locations and the results will assist in the formulation of an archaeological mitigation strategy, should the development proceed.

Basford West, Crewe (ref P03/1071). Following an earlier Desk Based Assessment this large area of pasture land to the south of Crewe and west of the mainline railway was subject to geophysical survey. Magnetometer Scanning was followed by detailed survey of a number of promising anomalies. The plots of these areas, however, suggested a modern origin for the features. Remaining mitigation will involve the examination of a number of sections through ancient boundary banks, prior to the development of the site for employment uses.

Basford Sidings, Crewe (ref P96/815). This site lies to the east of the mainline railway and is also to be developed for employment use. A geophysical scanning survey (magnetometer) was carried out across the pasture, followed by detailed survey of a number of anomalies. This second phase of work showed that the anomalies were almost certainly of modern origin and connected with drainage.

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Halton

Land off Dukesfield/Percival Lane, Runcorn (ref 02/0020). An intermittent Watching Brief was maintained during a housing development to the north of Trentham Street and east of Bridgewater House, Runcorn. The western part of the development overlies the terminus of the now infilled Bridgewater Canal, at the point where it joined the Manchester Ship Canal. In addition, the area to the east of the canal was formerly covered in warehouses. The watching brief has recorded the foundations of a number of former buildings and other structures in this area.

Runcorn Town Centre Redevelopment (ref 99/0132). A Watching Brief was maintained during works associated with the redevelopment of Runcorn town centre. An earlier desk-based assessment had identified a number of areas where boundary ditches and buildings from the pre 19th-century development might survive. In addition, the eastern part of the site had formerly been occupied by a 19th-century chapel and burial ground. In the event, the area of the chapel was not disturbed, whilst elsewhere on the site it was clear that earlier features had not survived the widespread disturbance associated with the development of the town in the 19th century.

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Macclesfield

Macclesfield Bus Station (ref 99/1092P). An Archaeological Watching Brief was maintained during groundworks associated with the laying out of the new bus interchange, to the east of Mill Street, Macclesfield. The development occupies an area to the rear of the medieval street frontage and included a number of medieval burgage plots. Initial documentary research highlighted the areas of particular archaeological potential and it was here that efforts were concentrated during the fieldwork. Medieval and post-medieval pottery was recovered from soil horizons on the site and a wall, forming the northern boundary of the former Quaker burial ground, was recorded.

St Bartholomew’s Church, Wilmslow (ref Diocesan Advisory Committee). An Archaeological Watching Brief was maintained during work on the boundary wall at the church. A section through the wall was recorded and a number of medieval architectural fragments recovered. In addition, a fragment of a World War One gravestone, commemorating a member of the Royal Flying Corps was discovered.

The Alderley Edge Bypass (ref pre application). Further trenching was carried out in connection with the proposed Alderley Edge bypass. This was in addition to the main phase of Evaluation reported on in the previous report. The latest work was designed to investigate the line of the alternative Rector’s Plantation route, to the south of Nether Alderley church. No significant archaeological deposits were detected.

St Michael’s Church, Macclesfield (ref Diocesan Advisory Committee). An Archaeological Watching Brief was maintained during works at St Michael’s church where a number of aspects of the re-ordering of the interior involved below-ground disturbance. Although much of the present church is 19th–century, it occupies the site of earlier Georgian and medieval buildings. No evidence for these earlier structures was detected but a large amount of disarticulated human bone was uncovered. This was carefully collected and reburied within the building.

Chorley Old Hall, Alderley Edge (ref pre application). Chorley Old Hall is one of Cheshire’s premier moated sites and the house is often described as the county’s oldest inhabited house, with origins going back to the 14th century. The house is a Grade I Listed Building and the moat is scheduled. An evaluation was carried out to the south-east of the present house, within the medieval moat and inside the area designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The work was carried out in connection with proposals to conduct a swimming pool and required scheduled monument consent. In the event no significant deposits were detected. Given the site’s importance, however, a Watching Brief will be required should construction proceed.

Land adjacent to Church Walk, Knutsford (ref 03/2370P). This plot of land lies to the rear of King Street, Knutsford’s main medieval thoroughfare, at its southern end. The present town plan suggests that it is within the land included within the medieval burgage plots. Trenching revealed a great deal of post-medieval activity, including pitting and postholes, but little sign of medieval features. It was demonstrated, however, that much of the land is formerly open water or marshy ground as alluvial sediments occupied much of the area. These were presumably associated with the formerly more extensive mere to the north east.

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Vale Royal

Town Farm Quarry, Norley (ref 2001/1597). A Watching Brief was maintained during topsoil stripping over those parts of the site which an earlier Desk Based Assessment had suggested had some archaeological potential. In one part of the site an area of heavily truncated pits, gullies, and postholes was recognised. These proved to be Roman in date and indicate the presence of another native-style settlement, examples of which have been recognised on a number of other Cheshire sites recently. Unusually, however, this site produced several pieces of imported decorated samian ware, a type of pottery not often found on sites of this type.

Kinderton Lodge, near Middlewich (ref pre application). A Geophysical (magnetometer) survey was carried out across an extensive area of pasture surrounding the Lodge, which lies to the south of the Holmes Chapel Road. Initial scanning detected a number of anomalies, which were then subjected to detailed survey. Most of the anomalies appear to be the result of recent drainage activity but some are possibly of archaeological origin and will be trenched as part of the next phase of the evaluation work.

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Warrington

Land to the south of Church Street, Warrington (ref A03/46959). The evaluation of an extensive plot of land to the south of Church Street, Warrington, formerly occupied by the Lockers Holdings site, was carried out. Church Street represents one of Warrington’s earliest thoroughfares as it led to the early centre around St Elphin’s church. In addition, there are records of the discovery of ancient timbers from the site in the 1930s, which were interpreted at the time as the remains of a crannog or prehistoric lake dwelling. Trenching revealed that early buildings did not survive on the Church Street frontage and also demonstrated that the timbers first located in the 1930s were not the remains of a crannog but came from a large timber-lined pit dating to the 18th or 19th centuries.

Land off Bridge Street and Rylands Street, Warrington (ref A02/45014 and 45038). Fieldwork involved the excavation of a plot of land at the junction of Bridge Street and Rylands Street in Warrington. An earlier evaluation had demonstrated the survival of medieval features on the site, which would be destroyed by redevelopment. Open-area excavation represented a rare opportunity to examine the bulk of two medieval ‘burgage’ plots and revealed evidence of re-cut property boundaries and pits. Curiously, there was no trace of early building foundations, which may reflect the widespread use of timber framing in the town in the past. Demolition of such buildings often leaves little trace of their former presence.

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Fieldwork 2004

Congleton

 

The Tannery, Wheelock Street, Middlewich (ref 35502/3). An initial evaluation of the site revealed the presence of archaeological deposits dating to the late medieval and early post-medieval periods at the northern end of the site, adjacent to the Wheelock Street frontage. Subsequent open-area excavation of this part of the site allowed the further examination of these deposits. The remains included numerous pits dating to the 17th and 18th centuries, the sandstone footings of a post-medieval building, a cobbled surface (perhaps associated with an early surface of Wheelock Street), and an extensive deposit rich in late medieval pottery. The excavations represent the first opportunity to investigate a portion of the medieval street frontage in Middlewich and the results contribute to our growing understanding of the development of small towns in Cheshire.

 

Former depot off Kings Street, Middlewich (ref 35757/3). This site was formerly the location of the town’s railway station and, more recently, had been used for a variety of light industrial processes. It lies within Middlewich’s area of Roman settlement and 19th-century records suggested the presence of wells and other features. Consequently, a programme of archaeological evaluation was advised when a planning application was submitted for a housing development on the site. In the event, truncation of the site proved to be much more severe than the surface topography suggested and all of the archaeologically sensitive strata had been removed during construction of the railway and associated sidings.

 

Land on the eastern side of Canal Road, Congleton, to the north of the Macclesfield Canal (ref 35153/3). Later 19th-century maps of the site showed at least one lime kiln within the site boundary. A watching brief showed that this had been built into the northern embankment of the canal and revealed its structure and the extensive burning of the surrounding deposits. The kiln was probably constructed to the processing of limestone from the quarry to the south of Astbury, which had been transported to the site along the canal. The lime would then have been made into mortar for use within the town.

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Crewe and Nantwich

The Crewe Green Link Road: North (ref P00/953). A Watching Brief was maintained during the construction of this road, following the completion of an earlier Desk Based Assessment, which showed that there were no major known archaeological constraints along the route corridor. No significant archaeological remains were detected.

 

St Boniface’s Church, Bunbury (ref DAC). A Watching Brief was maintained during some minor works inside the church and during the installation of new drainage and a septic tank in the churchyard. A quantity of disarticulated human bone was recovered and reburied on site, although no articulated burials were excavated. In the churchyard, natural deposits were exposed in a number of places and no evidence was found to support the theory that the churchyard’s shape may reflect its origin as a Roman fort.

 

 

The Lamb Hotel, Nantwich (ref P03/0206). An archaeological watching brief was carried out during the construction of an extension to the 18th-century inn. An earlier evaluation had demonstrated the exceptional quality of the archaeological deposits on the site with deep accumulations of organic material dating from at least the early 13th century. The new building had been designed to minimise the disturbance of these remains and excavation was restricted to the ring beam of the new building and the excavation of a new lift shaft pit and the drain runs. Quantities of pottery and animal bone were recovered together with samples of the waterlogged deposits. Analysis of this material revealed that the accumulation consisted of burnt material and domestic refuse, which had continued to pile up in the medieval and early post-medieval town.

 

Land on the South Side of Welsh Row, Nantwich (ref P04/0599). Deep waterlogged deposits were encountered during the construction of a rear extension at a property close to the town bridge. This work represented the first modern investigation on this side of the street and confirmed that the eastern part of Welsh Row contains important well-preserved archaeological deposits on both its northern and southern sides.

 

Land at Mill Street Nantwich (ref P03/0944). An earlier evaluation had not detected significant archaeological deposits, apart from a substantial ditch running parallel to and extending under the northern side of Mill Street. This may be the ditch of Nantwich Castle, which would mean that the development lies within the castle bailey. Consequently, a precautionary watching brief was maintained during the excavation of the basement parking area. This did not reveal any new features but did allow further examination of the ditch.

 

Land at Snow Hill Car Park, Nantwich (ref P01/0434). Conditions were particularly difficult during this watching brief but deep, waterlogged deposits containing early timbers were recovered. Analysis proved that these were Roman in date. Other Roman finds included pottery and a bone pin. This suggests that remains similar to those encountered during the recent excavations at Kingsley Fields are present in this part of the town too, adding to the evidence for a major Roman settlement at Nantwich on both sides of the river.

 

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Halton

 

The New Mersey Crossing (ref EIA). This work was carried out as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment programme for the new Mersey Crossing. It involved the obtaining of cores from the Mersey estuary for palaeoenvironmental assessment. Examination of the material revealed little evidence of pollen preservation or macro-fossil survival and no further work was proposed. A sample of the estuary fringe was also subject to a walkover survey to check for features such as wharfs and boats. A number of examples were recorded and will be subject to further archaeological mitigation should the project proceed.

 

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Vale Royal

 

The A530/B5309 King Street, near Middlewich. An Archaeological Watching Brief was maintained during the excavation of a number of test pits excavated along the road’s course in order to determine the state of the current carriageway. The road follows the line of King Street, the Roman road from Middlewich to Wilderspool near Warrington and there were hopes that traces of the Roman surface might survive beneath the modern road. In all cases modern make up was seen to overlie natural deposits and no evidence for the survival of Roman road fabric was detected.

 

Kinderton Lodge, near Middlewich (ref 4/APP/2004/0631). An evaluation of an extensive area of land around Kinderton Lodge near Middlewich was undertaken, where an application has been submitted for clay extraction and landfill. Geophysical survey identified a number of anomalies, which were then tested by trial trenching. None proved to be archaeologically significant and there was no trace of early settlement away from the existing farmstead (to be preserved within the proposed development) and no evidence of the Roman field systems detected nearby, immediately to the east of Middlewich.

 

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Warrington

  

Land at Dial Street, Warrington (ref A03/1303). Excavation work was carried out at Dial Street, in advance of the re-development of the St Mary’s social centre for housing. The site lies on the eastern fringes of the medieval borough, which was focused on the Bridge Street and Butter Market Street area. An initial evaluation demonstrated the survival of medieval deposits across part of the site, although it was also clear that 19th-century cellaring had removed the archaeological layers across much of the area. Subsequently, an area measuring c 25m by 25m was subject to excavation, in order to examine the area of best-preserved medieval activity more fully. Features excavated included pits, gullies, and ditches. Also recovered was an assemblage of medieval pottery, provisionally dated to between the later 13th and early 16th centuries. This material is particularly important as it represents the largest group of medieval pottery yet recovered from the area of the medieval town. A report on the work is currently being prepared for publication.

 

 

The Golden Square Shopping Centre, Warrington (ref 2004/03558). A programme of fieldwork was carried out here prior to the proposed refurbishment of the shopping centre and the construction of a new bus station. The centre occupies the north-western quarter of the medieval borough, although much of the evidence was undoubtedly destroyed during the development of the site during the 1970s. The programme of trial trenching and test pit observation was designed to establish the degree of destruction and the potential for survival in particular areas. Work to date has confirmed the total removal of archaeological strata across much of the site but has highlighted a couple of areas, particularly on the Horsemarket Street frontage, where there may be some archaeological survival.

 

 

Hartley’s Bar, Bridge Street, Warrington (ref 2004/04204). A watching brief was maintained during the construction of a new extension to this property, which lies on the west side of Bridge Street, Warrington. This places it just behind the medieval street frontage and close to, or within, the precinct of the medieval friary. Records from the late 19th century also note the discovery of a stone vaulted undercroft nearby, perhaps connected with the friary’s infirmary. The watching brief did locate a massive wall foundation which, initially, was thought to be of sandstone and part of the friary precinct wall. Further investigation, however, confirmed that the wall was made of tap slag blocks and was of much later date. Interestingly, similar blocks were used to construct the vaults of the 18th-century Bank Hall.

 

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