Volunteers needed to excavate home of divided Civil War family

Friday 28 September 2012
The University of Salford is looking for people in the Stockport area to excavate a stately home belonging to two brothers who fought on opposite sides during the English Civil War.

Archaeologists are holding a large scale community dig of Wood Hall in Reddish Vale between 8 and 20 of October and are hoping for some very exciting finds on a site with a recorded history dating back to 1314.

Wood or Wode Hall – as it was originally known – was first recorded in 1501 but the land in the area was owned by a Henry del Wood as far back as the 12th Century.

By the 17th Century, the Hall was in the hands of the Stanley family, and it was two Stanley brothers, Edward and Henry, who chose opposite sides in the Civil War. Unfortunately Edward was killed defending Manchester from Royalists in 1642 and his brother was punished for taking the King’s side by having to pay a large sum to take back ownership of the family home.

The Hall changed hands and was altered several times in the following centuries, coming under the ownership of gentlemen, church ministers and a cotton manufacturer. It was finally demolished in 1960 by Stockport Corporation.

There are maps, but no known illustrations or photographs of the buildings, so the University’s archaeology team are extremely curious about the site.

The project is part of Dig Greater Manchester, which will involve over 9,000 people taking part in archaeological projects over four-and-a-half years in 11 boroughs in the region. It is being funded by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities and managed by the University of Salford.

Digs have already been carried out in Leigh, Radcliffe, Tameside and Oldham, where hundreds of people unearthed large numbers of artefacts relating to the history of their local areas.

Brian Grimsditch from the Centre for Applied Archaeology at the University of Salford said: “It doesn’t matter if volunteers have no previous experience of archaeology - all that is required is interest and the ability to get yourself to the site.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn some new skills, meet people and take part in a major project investigating local history.”

To sign up as a volunteer, please contact Debbie Atkin (d.atkin@salford.ac.uk and 0161 295 3821).

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