The Fieldwork Group offers members an opportunity to take part in primary archaeological research and to acquire the relevant skills. Whenever possible, projects are carried out over weekends and public holidays.

Fieldwork Activities in 2016 and 2017

Following the successful village hall display in May when we presented our findings to village tenants and also 100 pupils from the local primary school.  Following approval from the Grosvenor Estate for a number of test pits and resistivity surveys we carried out excavations in July, August and October.  We have now completed our fieldwork in Eccleston, and the focus is on post excavation analysis and writing up our findings.

Janet Axworthy is preparing a report on all the Pottery that was washed, sorted and marked by the members last year.  We have an interesting range of 13th to 15th Century medieval items, then a gap before the 17th to 20th Century Items.  This analysis will be helpful in determining date ranges for the various contexts in which other items were found.  Janet is also undertaking an initial assessment of the glass, metal and ceramic building material.

David Higgins has prepared a report on the Clay Pipes.  These range in date from the 17th Century to early 20th Century, with the majority dating from the 18th and 19th Century.  There are at least 10 stamped pieces amongst the collection, mainly 18th Century with decorated Chester stems but including one 17th Century bowl stamp.  There are also a couple of later pieces of interest, a red clay pipe from Scotland and a French or Belgian pipe with enamelled decoration.

Ian Smith (Oxford Archaeology North) has completed an initial assessment of the faunal remains and reports as follows; The faunal remains include bones from cattle (Bos taurus), sheep/goat (Ovis/Capra), pig (Sus sp), horse (Equus sp), Animal Bone Assessmentdeer (cf Dama), ), hare, (Lepus sp), rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), cat (Felis catus), fowl (Galliforme spp), goose (Anser/Branta) duck (Anatidae) and rat (Rattus sp) were identified. Sheep and Goat were predominant.

The majority of material from each of the test pits appears to be domestic waste. The fact that no mandibular rows were recovered from amongst cattle, sheep/goat or pig and that only three loose mandibular teeth from sheep have been recorded is of note. Such a low proportion of teeth is unusual in rural parts of north west England where often shallow and acidic soils tend to favour the survival of teeth (and of burnt bone). A simple working hypothesis to explain this body part representation is that, in the main periods and phases represented, meat was primarily supplied as joints as opposed to the supply of whole carcasses.

Oyster (Ostrea sp) shells were recovered from contexts (1100), (1101), (1104), (1107), (1110), (1200), (1201), (1300), (1301) and (1302)  (in and around the sunken trackway) and cockle (cf Cerastoderma sp) from (759) (the paddock). All are plausibly food remains. These mollusc remains may sometimes be an aid to revealing status or the influence of religion but fairly tight dating is important in that regard.

Desk based Research

We are also making good progress writing up our desk based research.  Janet Cooper has produced a report on her assessment of some medieval documents relating to field ownership over time, including a late 13th C extent and two fifteenth century documents.

Photograph Gallery of Eccleston Fieldwork in 2016