Author Archives: Admin

Lever Crypt Report Published

MAS have published a report on their investigation of the Lever Crypt in Alkrington Woods

The Lever Crypt in Alkrington Woods

Minutes of the 2016 AGM

The AGM was held at the Old Boars Head on 24th Nov 2016. The minutes of the meeting can be found here;


The accounts of the society are available upon request to



Hopwood Millers Cottage 2016 update

The weekly MAS investigation of Hopwood Millers Cottage is closed down for the winter but will start up again in Spring 2017. The attached plan produced by our dig director Robert Huddart, shows the progress in recording the 19th and 20th century foundations so far. Next year we should complete the rest of the structure and investigate an outbuilding identified on old maps. We have recently identified a cobbled surface on the site with evidence of a much earlier occupation.


Public Asked to Help Hunt for Witches’ Marks

Historic England have asked for help in finding Witches’ marks – ritual protection symbols or apotropaic marks – can be found carved into the fabric of many historic places, from medieval churches and houses, to barns, caves and even the Tower of London but they have never been fully recorded.

The marks date back to times when belief in witchcraft and the supernatural was widespread. Magical symbols and ritual objects were a common part of life from around the 16th to the early 19th century.

MAS have started surveying the three oldest buildings in Middleton, the parish church, the old grammar school and the Boar’s Head pub. The surveys will be continuing early in 2017. In the meantime here are some of our apotropaic marks or graffiti.


Pentangle scratch and tally marks on choir stall at St Leonard’s


Initials carved into beam at the Grammar School (Edgar Wood?)


Protective taper burns and scratches on window of the meeting room at the Old Boar’s

Graffiti survey arranged for 6th September 2016

The training session by NW Historic Graffiti has been arranged to start at 9.30 AM on Tuesday 6th September 2016 at St Leonard’s. It will be followed by surveys of the Old Boar’s Head and the Old Grammar School. Register by emailing or phone Cliff on 07740351814.


Middleton Graffiti Poster3

Medieval Graffiti project kicks off

Today, we welcomed Carolanne from North West Medieval Graffiti who took a tour of the cluster buildings and pointed out the many protection marks and symbols that have been carved or burned into our old buildings. The OBH has many taper burns around doors and windows to keep out evil spirits, as well as carpenters marks and 17th century signatures. The church has a number of protective symbols scratched onto doors and benches that were a pleasant surprise to Geoff. The old school has many initials carved into the brick and timbers, any idea who EW was?
Carolanne is coming back to Middleton in October and we plan to run a training day showing how to survey and record Middleton’s medieval vandals work. Everybody can join in, especially if you can take better photos than me! Watch this space for a date, Cliff

Weekend dig at the Hopwood Millers Cottage

MAS Weekend Excavation at Hopwood Millers Cottage Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th August 2016.
The Millers House dates to the 18thcentury. Last year we opened a trench at the western end of the building and found the well preserved remains of room complete with fireplace. On the north side of the building a path from the front door leads to a footbridge which had crossed the Trub Brook to the front door of the cottage. There were also garden features including a cobbled terrace with brick edging. Towards the end of the dig a small area of cobbling was discovered which suggest the possibility of an even earlier building on the site.
This year we are looking at the central section of the cottage and have already started to find more walls and surfaces.

The dig will run 10 am until 3.30 pm each day. Everyone is welcome. No previous experience is necessary and training is provided on site. If you would like to take part and do not want to dig then there are plenty of other ways in which you can contribute to the excavation including recording, surveying and small finds processing.
This year we are asking volunteers to register for the dig. There is no charge but if you wish to take part please register by Wednesday 3rd August by emailing or phoning Cliff on 07740 351814.

Middletons 1623 population crisis

A new research paper from Cliff Ivers suggest a reason why so many Middletonians died in 1623. His research is based on the parish records and wills of some of the people associated with golden cluster buildings, the Boar’s head, the old school and the parish church. Not for the faint hearted..

Middleton Research Papers

MAS publish two investigation reports

MAS have completed two reports on their recent activities at Hopwood Millers Cottage 2015 and the pavement investigation at the Old Boar’s Head 2016.

Whilst we don’t expect them to make a best seller list any time soon, they are useful reference documents for people interested in Middleton’s past.

Hopwood Millers Cottage

Old Boar’s Head pavement

Our thanks go to Robert Huddart and Cliff Ivers for producing them.


MAS investigates the Olde Boar’s Head foundations

MAS members were given a once in a lifetime opportunity to excavate outside their headquarters last weekend. RBC are installing new pavements along Long Street as part of a Heritage Lottery improvement fund. Their contractors kindly let us dig several trenches along the pavement before the new slabs were laid.

We found the old cobbled pavement about 450mm below the current level, It looks as fine as it does on the 1870 photo.

IMG_2557MAS on the cobbles at the OBH 2015


We also confirmed that the pub was once two separate buildings. The recent tree ring dating survey confirmed the timbers between the right hand side of the front door and the sessions room were dated 1622 whilst those on the left up to Durnford Street were mostly 1654. The centre gable was probably a later addition to the building. The original sketch was done as part of a 1970’s survey by a Middleton buildings expert WJ Smith.

obd dates

When we examined the area under the door we noticed that the two sets of foundations stopped (indicated by the green pegs in the photo) the area in between was filled by soil and sand. This is the only part of the foundation that is missing and could suggest an early passageway between the two buildings.IMG_2583

The bricked up remains of two stone lintel and mullion windows identified in the foundations of the 1654 building prove it was built with a cellar. The cellar is accessed through a trap door in the pubs lounge and is optimistically referred to as the “dungeon”. Clearly there is no evidence of cellar windows in the early building. This suggest that the current beer cellar was a later addition to the 1622 building. There is a bricked up doorway above the left hand cellar window. The door appears on some early photographs and it clearly covers up the window light.


We hope to publish a full report on the weekends investigation later this year. Several members of the society are researching documentary evidence of the buildings owners and tenants which should help to interpret the physical evidence we have found.

The dig volunteers were Liz Fairweather, Cliff Ivers, Geoff Wellens, Robert Huddart, Robert Howarth and Martin Burroughs

If you would like to get involved in any of our investigations or historic research, please email

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