The Neston Collieries, 1759–1855: An Industrial Revolution in Rural Cheshire

By Anthony Annakin-Smith. University of Chester. £19.99. Available from the publisher and the usual booksellers from 29 November 2019

The early Neston collieries operated for almost 100 years and were notable in many ways, for example for the devastating acts of sabotage committed by one mine owner on the neighbouring works, for the use of canals for hauling coal deep under the Dee Estuary, and for introducing the earliest steam engine in west Cheshire. There are also links to famous names such as George Stephenson and Nelson’s future mistress, Emma, Lady Hamilton.

The extensively illustrated book gives a comprehensive review of every aspect of the early Neston collieries – not just how the mines operated but also, for example, the social background of the colliers including their health, children, education and living conditions; the operation of the land and sea trades which saw Neston’s coal shipped as far as the Americas; and the network of links to Chester, Wales, Lancashire and beyond which enabled the mines to survive. Comprehensive research into the life of every known Neston collier means that there is a wealth of information on the often pitiful lives of the men and children who worked at the mines. Events are placed in the context of the profound changes which were affecting Britain during the Industrial Revolution.

The book will appeal to those with an interest in industrial, social or local history as well as to family historians.

Collected essays on Bede and the early kings of Northumbria

Our member Clive Tolley has just published this volume of his collected essays on Bede and the early kings of Northumbria.
You can order copies directly from the publishers
Clive also has a limited number of copies at £11, available for collection at one of our meetings.
Click here to e-mail Clive
Click here to download a copy of the front cover of this publication

The Roman Amphitheatre of Chester Volume 1

By Tony Wilmott & Dan Garner
Hardback, 496 pages, Published by Oxbow Books, ISBN:9781785707445
This is the first of two volumes dealing with the major research excavations on the Chester Amphitheatre in 2004–2006. The amphitheatre was discovered in 1929 and partially excavated in the 1970s, after which the northern half was laid out as a public monument. Subsequent questions about the future of the site and the original interpretation prompted the recent work which was part funded by English Heritage and the (then) Chester City Council. The first amphitheatre was built in the 70s AD. It had a stone outer wall with external stairs and timber framed seating, the structure of which can be reconstructed. The second amphitheatre was built concentrically around the first, sealing deposits relating to the behaviour of spectators and the economy of spectacles in the first building. Amphitheatre 2, probably built in the later second century, was the largest and most impressive amphitheatre in Britain, featuring elaborate entrances, internal stairs and decorative pilasters on the outer wall. Although heavily robbed, sufficient survives to enable a confident architectural reconstruction to be proposed. Arena furniture hints at the type of spectacles that took place here. Beneath the seating banks of the amphitheatres evidence for prehistoric settlement was recovered – the first substantial prehistoric archaeology to be found in Chester. Occupation began with a Mesolithic phase, followed by a Middle Iron Age agricultural settlement and finally Late Iron Age cord-rig ploughing. This fully integrated volume tells the story of the site from the Mesolithic to the end of the life of the amphitheatre. It contains full stratigraphic and structural detail, including CGI reconstruction of Amphitheatre 2, artefactual and ecofactual evidence, and takes account of the findings of all excavations on the site since 1929. A second volume will deal with the robbing and reuse of the amphitheatre in the post Roman period, and the development of the medieval and post-medieval urban landscape of the site.

Hadrian’s Wall paintings

A book of painting’s of Hadrian’s Wall by the Richardson Family has been published. Click here for more information.

A Standard for Pottery Studies in Archaeology

Has now been published, click here to download a pdf copy.

This document was compiled by the three period-specific pottery study groups (PCRG, SGRP, MPRG) grant aided by Historic England with the aim of creating the first, comprehensive, inclusive standard for working with pottery from archaeological excavations. The Standard is intended for use in all types of archaeological project, including those run by community groups, professional contractors and research institutions.

The Standard covers the various stages of an archaeological project from planning and data collection through to report writing and archiving, with the intention of informing not only pottery specialists but also those who manage and monitor projects.

The Windmills and Watermills of Wirral: A Historical Survey

By Rowan Patel. Pbk 263 pages – 220 illustrations. Countywise Ltd 2016. ISBN 9781910352106. Click here to download a synopsis. Available directly from the author Rowan Patel ( for £19.95 + £3.50 P&P.

Warburton: Glimpses of Rural Life: the Archaeology and History of a Cheshire Village

Edited by Mike Nevell. Centre for Applied Archaeology, University of Salford. Pbk 186 pages.  ISBN 9780956594785. £10.00.

Copies of the book are available from the publishers, University of Salford online book shop, from Abacus books, Altrincham, Trafford Local Studies Centre at Sale Waterside and Amazon.

Divergent Paths: Family Histories of Irish Emigrants to Britain 1820-1920

By John Herson. Manchester University Press 2015. Hbk 310 pages. ISBN 9780719090639. £35.00 + £3.00 p&p.

This book is unique in adopting a family history approach to Irish immigrants in nineteenth century Britain. It shows that the family was central to the migrants’ lives and identities. The techniques of family and digital history are used for the first time to reveal the paths followed by a representative body of Irish immigrant families, using the town of Stafford in the West Midlands as a case study.

Download an order form. For more on this book and the research behind it, see

Hillforts in the North West and Beyond

Edited by Tom Saunders. Council for British Archaeology North West 2014. Pbk 113 pages. (Archaeology North West 3). ISSN 09624201. £10.00 + £2.00 p&p.

This volume focuses upon some the current research on the hillforts in the North West and beyond. It summarises archaeological work in central Cheshire, at Burton Point, Fin Cop, around Morecambe Bay and at Mellor. There is also a guide around one of the largest of the sites, Eddisbury, as well as a review of recent prehistoric metalwork found in Cumbria.

Available from Dr M Nevell, Chair, Council for British Archaeology North West/Head of Archaeology, Centre for Applied Archaeology, College of Science and Technology, LG19 Peel Building, University of Salford, Salford M5 4NW. Cheques payable to Council for British Archaeology North West Regional Group.

In Search of Vikings: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Scandinavian Heritage of North-West England

By Stephen E Harding, David Griffiths, Elizabeth Royles. Pbk. 204 pages – 12 colour & 80 B/W illustrations. CRC Press 2014. ISBN 9781482207576. £31.39.

In Search of Vikings presents a collection of papers from experts in a broad range of disciplines, including history, archaeology, genetics, and linguistics, to provide a detailed understanding of the Vikings in peace and in war. This book focuses on one particularly exciting area of the Viking world, namely the north-west region of England, where they are known to have settled in large numbers. North-west England was the crossroads between Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, and the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. It was a battleground for distant powers and dynasties, and its Irish Sea coastline created opportunities for trading and settlement. Silver hoards, burials, and Old Norse place-names attest to the Viking presence, and Scandinavian DNA is detectable amongst the modern population. The 12 integrated studies in this book are designed to reinvigorate the search for Vikings in this crucial region and to provide must-reading for anyone interested in Viking history.
To order online see