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Preparations are underway for dig

By MIG: Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: August 07, 2013

  • Society members at the Huntsman Pub Dig in 2012

  • William Yates Map of Staffordshire in 1775 showing the village of Dilhorne.

  • Havergal Brian.

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From Friday, August 9, to Monday, August 12, members of Blythe Bridge and Forsbrook Historical Society will be undertaking their second major archaeological dig in Dilhorne.

Speaking to the Cheadle Post and Times, Lev Wood, secretary of the society, said: "Following on from the tremendous archaeological dig we undertook in 2012 when society members successfully located the 18th century cottage in the grounds of the Huntsman Public House at the Green near Cheadle, it was always going to be difficult task to repeat and equal the process for this summer.

"As unscheduled potential historical sites do not abound adjacent to many of our local hostelries our biggest difficulty was always going to be locating a suitable area to dig close to a nearby pub that also had sufficient potential and important local interest.

"However after months of research - including numerous associated pints later - we may have found a plot beside the White Lion in Dilhorne that could provide the members of the Society a challenging archaeological experience.

"Unlike in 2012, when map evidence pointed directly towards the existence of a building adjacent to the Huntsman, the flat platform area we identified in the field directly opposite the All Saints Church in Dilhorne provides no such clues other than it being an ideal place for a dwelling of some kind.

"The earliest evidence, or lack of in this particular case, is that taken from the William Yates Map of Staffordshire drawn in 1775 and subsequent Ordnance Survey publications produced during the later Victorian period, where information is inconclusive surrounding any building exactly on the plot we have in mind other than the later public house.

"Consequently we can only conclude that if there was a building at all, it must be 16th century or earlier in date.

"Thus if that be the case, we will be trying to locate a wooden cottage structure that will only be defined by stain marks and post holes in the old land surfaces.

"So we predict really hard work for our members that may produce something or sadly nothing of any major interest.

"Until we dig we just don’t know and that’s the fun element in doing this work."

The dig is due to take place over the weekend between 10pm and 5pm when the pub is celebrating the third anniversary under its new ownership of Carl and Barbara Nixon.

Members of the public are welcome to come along as there will be many activities going on throughout the weekend beside the dig and watch the progress of members, who will only be glad to show them whatever finds they may locate.

Mr Wood added: "Having already opened two small test pits on site we know there is some potential for an interesting event even though the finds we have produced were limited to pottery shards ranging from possibly medieval through to the 18th century.

"Unlike Channel 4’s Time Team we do not have the luxury of ground radar necessary to tell us where to dig, rather we rely upon intuitive guess work based upon sound research and to be honest an element of crossed fingers and good luck, so we remain ever hopeful.

"Unlike traditional archaeologists from the past we are not treasure hunting rather we record each step as we dig accurately and plot details of the area and so produce a detailed report which ultimately we lodge in Blythe Bridge and Cheadle library for people to read.

"We are looking forward to people coming to visit us and are just hoping for some good weather."

Prior to that event the society held its monthly meeting and walk and talk around the Dresden area of Longton on Tuesday, August 6, led by County Councillor Ian Parry who discussed the development of this village estate and some of the defining characters who have lived there such as Havergal Brian the composer (pictured).

Contact Lev Wood on 01782 388241 for further details. 

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