Greater Manchester’s biggest ever archaeological dig gets going

Tuesday 28 February 2012
A dig by the team at Cheadle Green in 2010.
A dig by the team at Cheadle Green in 2010.
Greater Manchester’s biggest ever archaeological project is ready to get underway as the first sites are revealed from a series that will eventually encompass thousands of people exploring every borough in the region, as well as Blackburn with Darwen.

The sites for 2012’s instalment of the Dig Greater Manchester project will encompass a range of historical periods and, along with associated workshops and lectures, will provide thousands of people with the chance to learn lifelong skills and take an interest in their local area.

The first excavation will be the medieval Etherstone Hall in Leigh during March. The Hall has origins tracing back to 1415 and volunteers from the community and schools will work under the University’s archaeologists to find out more about its moat, discover pottery and other remains, and trace its history right up to the late 1970s.

Also included this year, but yet to be announced are sites in Bury, Stockport and Oldham.

The digs will expand into next year when the rest of the sites in each borough in Greater Manchester and Blackburn with Darwen are announced and, by the end of the four year project over 9,000 people - from school children to pensioners – will have been involved and learnt new skills.

The University of Salford is managing the project and funding is being supplied by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities.

School and college involvement will reach 6,000 pupils and include class work and a site visit where the students will experience carrying out archaeological excavation.

Three thousand members of the community will be able to get involved in the digs and there will many opportunities to learn other archaeological techniques, with workshops being conducted throughout the term of the project.

These workshops will not only equip volunteers with the skills to take part in, and get most enjoyment out of the experience, but will also equip them with the skills to develop their own projects. There will also be a series of informative lectures and presentations on the local history and archaeology of the boroughs and a lecture on the results of each evaluation.

Brian Grimsditch from the University of Salford Centre for Applied Archaeology said: “It’s a great feeling to finally get under way. This project has the potential to make a permanent difference to people’s interest in their local areas right across the region.

“While we are supervising the digs, it is very much an effort being made by the people of the 11 boroughs. At school or in the wider population, Dig Greater Manchester will start a major and lasting change in the way history and conservation are undertaken by people in their communities.”

To become a volunteer or find out more contact the team: http://www.salford.ac.uk/built-environment/research/applied-archaeology

There is a dedicated blog for the project which can be viewed here:

http://diggreatermanchester.wordpress.com/