We invite members of the Society to suggest destinations for evening walks, full and part day visits or long weekend excursions to sites of archaeological, architectural or historical interest. Please contact Hilary Lidbury

Society Spring / Summer Excursions in 2019

Visit to the Ecton Copper Mine, Saturday 6th July 2019

Opportunities to take this highly regarded tour are hard to come by so it is very satisfying to report that CAS has secured a limited number of places! These mines, located in the picturesque Manifold Valley in the Staffordshire Peak District, date back to the Bronze Age. The day is split between an Overground Tour and an Underground Tour.
The Overground Tour takes in the geology of the area and an explanation of how the mines connect, as well as features such as the Explosives Store and the newly-restored 1788 Boulton and Watt Rotative Engine. Given good weather the views from the Engine House are amazing. The Underground Tour is equally interesting.
Tea, coffee and biscuits are provided free but a packed lunch will be needed. The tour entails walking on fairly rough tracks. Click here for more information
A minibus from Chester to Ecton is planned. We have secured our places on the tour at a charge of £15-00 per member. A proportion of the cost of the mini-bus hire will be in addition.

Contact Hilary Lidbury by e-mail or phone 01925 756375 for further information and to book places.

Information about excursions that took place in 2019

Visit to the Lion Salt Works, Saturday 6th April 2019

Photographs taken in the course of our visit to the Lion Salt Works reflect the keen interest of members in the information supplied by Lisa, the Trust’s Education Officer, who acted as our guide. An engrossing history of salt making from prehistoric times to the present day was presented as we toured the five pan houses with their stove houses, as well as the brine shaft and tank, pump house, railway siding and ancillary buildings.
Lion Salt Works was the last working open pan salt works in the UK, closing as recently as 1986. This is well within living memory and consequently the Museum has been able to conjure up a vivid picture of the working lives of ‘lumpers’, ‘wallers’ and ‘lofters’, in addition to amassing a collection of work-related artefacts.
Archaeological investigation on the site and in adjacent areas continues. After restoring the ‘nodding donkey’, the Lion Salt Works Trust hopes to establish a new working salt pan.
The brilliant April sunshine encouraged some of our members to take the footpath along the Trent and Mersey Canal to the Anderton Boat Lift, to add another archaeological feature to the day’s itinerary.

Information about excursions that took place in 2018

Visit to the site of Aldford Castle, Sunday 21st October 2018

Under the leadership of Dr Rachel Swallow CAS members visited the site of Alford Castle on Sunday 21st October 2018.
Dr Swallow shared her knowledge of the site’s fascinating history and archaeology at length, prompting much interested discussion during the visit

Visit to Oswestry Castle Community Research Project live dig at the Castle Mound, Oswestry, Sunday 16th September 2018

OCCRP have been excavating here seasonally since 2014 to investigate the largely buried remains of an Anglo-Norman keep probably dating from the mid-12th to early 13th century.
Eighteen CAS members and guests heard an introductory talk by Roger Cooper, site director, in the Guildhall before touring the excavation site on the Castle Mound.

CAS members and guests inspect the excavation site on the Castle Mound

West facing view of the excavation of the south wall on the keep

Visit to Clwydian Range Archaeology Group live dig at Moel Arthur, Saturday 28th July 2018

This hillside site has produced evidence of human activity over the past 8,000 years, including a considerable assemblage of flint and other stone tools. The tour group saw that this year’s excavation was well underway. Ian Brooks explained the history of the site saying that early results looked interesting as Clwydian Range Archaeology Group (CRAG) members excavations follow up ring-shaped anomalies from the geo-physical survey.

Ian Brooks explaining the history of the site and this year’s finds

Panoramic view of the area being excavated in 2018

CAS Tour of the Archaeology of the Vale of Llangollen, Saturday 28th April 2018

This tour was led by Professor Howard Williams, of the Dept. of Archaeology, University of Chester who has worked in and extensively studied the Vale of Llangollen archaeological landscape.
The tour group visited and discussed the iconic ancient monuments of the Pillar of Eliseg, Valle Crucis Abbey and Castell Dinas Brân.
More information about the sites can be found on Professor Howard Williams’ Archaeodeath Blog:

CAS members assemble at the site of The Pillar of Eliseg

Valle Crucis Abbey founded in 1201.  View of the east end from the fishpond.  Note the corner buttress forming a giant arch, supported by a pair of internal buttresses framing the upper windows

Professor Williams highlighting the carved 13th/14th Century grave slab commemorating Maruruet set above the 16th Century fireplace in the abbot’s house

CAS members approach Castell Dinas Brân from the north east

Information about excursions that took place in 2017

Visit to the Poulton Research Project Saturday 19th August 2017

Dr Kevin Cootes led a visit of 18 CAS members and guests to the Poulton Research Project, and gave a very comprehensive talk on the Project updated to discoveries of that very morning.
In fair weather we then toured the large site which has yielded evidence of human activity almost continuously from the Mesolithic period right up to modern times.
Finds excavated that day included a medieval arrow head and what is thought to be a bodkin, pending x-ray confirmation.
Thanks are due to Dr Cootes from CAS for a very interesting, thought-provoking and illuminating afternoon.

Excavation trench across part of a D-shaped enclosure which appears to be Roman but may have Late Iron Age origins (yet to be determined).

A rim sherd from VCP with finger impressions, dating from about 50BC to early C1st AD, used for final evaporation and transportation of salt. Poulton has produced the largest assemblage of VCP discovered to date in NW Britain

A rim sherd from a Holt Ware vessel dating to late C1st / early C2nd AD.

The Poulton Research Project Exhibition can be viewed at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester until 5th November 2017.

Guided tour of the Amphitheatre and Roman Gardens

As part of the Chester Heritage Festival Peter Carrington led guided tours of the Amphitheatre and Roman Gardens on Thursday 20th July and Saturday 22nd July 2017.

The site of Shotwick Castle

On Saturday 8th July 27 members and guests enjoyed a walking tour to the site of C12th Shotwick Castle led by Dr Peter Carrington

Peter Carrington writes:
For those who want to know more about the strategy behind Shotwick Castle and the other castles of W Cheshire I recommend Rachel Swallow’s article, ‘Cheshire Castles of the Irish Sea Cultural Zone’ in the Archaeological Journal vol. 173 (2), 2016. You can download this from  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00665983.2016.1191279 (free, at least for the moment).
Nearby is one of John Douglas’s houses, Shotwick House (1872), now converted to apartments. For more information see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shotwick_House.
Shotwick village (SJ 337 718) is also interesting and there is some information at http://www.shotwick.org.uk/village.html.

Norton Priory and its new Museum

On 27th April 21 members enjoyed a special guided tour of Norton Priory which was led by Lynn Smith, Senior Keeper at the new museum.

Information about excursions that were organised in 2016

Live Dig Visit to Moel y Gaer, Sunday 24 July 2016

Professor Gary Lock of Oxford University hosted a field visit by CAS members at the ongoing dig at Moel y Gaer, Bodfari, now in its fourth year. The weather was fine and members found much to interest them on this large site.

Fiona Gale, County Archaeologist for Denbighshire, introduces CAS members to the site.

Trench 5 is new this year, sited where the team are hoping to investigate the western entrance of Moel y Gaer hillfort.

Trench 5, with Professor Gary Lock overseeing excavations.

Trench 3X has been open for three years.  This photograph shows the last activities in this trench which was backfilled 5 days later.

Staffordshire Hoard Gallery, Thursday 14 April 2016

Twenty nine CAS members and guests enjoyed a visit to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Many thanks to Pieta Greaves & Kayleigh Fuller of the curatorial staff for interesting and informative talks on the Staffordshire Hoard www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk They provided us with a tour of their conservation labs as well as answering many questions from members on less well known aspects of their investigations.