Last weekend saw yet another Festival of Archaeology and as our contribution we continued our exploration of Cheetham Park in Stalybridge as we try to re-discover the structural features of Eastwood House.
The weather stayed fine and we welcomed a steady stream of visitors – some who simply wanted to ask what we were up to (there’s always someone who suspects we are laying foundations for a new housing estate!); some whose dogs bark at us indignantly because we’re digging where THEY wanted to dig; and a great many who are intrigued by the story of the house – quite a lot of whom find themselves rolling up their sleeves and getting down in the trench to do a bit for themselves.
Of course, the delight for us is in the young people who might be picking up a trowel for the very first time, and who come running to us with their shards of pottery and half bricks, excited to know what they’ve found.
Their absorption in the task and their wonder at their finds is often matched by surprising alertness and understanding. One little girl had an amazing grasp of the different qualities in the materials she was digging out.
Certainly our best find of the weekend was a glazed stoneware drainage pipe that would have been put in place when Eastwood House was built around 1830. It is a mottled dark brown colour with a creamy white clay matrix with minute black inclusions. It measures 0.2m in diameter and was located below the level of the front wall, but above the cellars. It connected to a small brick stack within the wall base, which had a vertical void within the bricks above, possibly there for the purpose of inspection. The drainage pipe connected via the brick stack to a smaller bore clay pipe of approximately 0.12m which lined up with the frontage of the house.
Obviously, we’d like to know more. For instance, who manufactured the pipe and is there a corresponding date of production? Were these pipes of a standard design being constructed within the building to hide the roof drains?
If anyone can answer those questions please do get in touch.
Meanwhile, we can look back on another successful event in the knowledge that there are enthusiastic and intelligent young diggers out there ready to take archaeology forward. The past has a future.