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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

Final report on tree-ring dating the Old Boar’s Head

Nottingham tree-ring dating laboratories have just published a report on the date of timber frames in the Old Boar’s Head, Middleton. It appears that there are two houses dated 1622 and 1654 which were joined together  at a later date. The oldest building is on the right (North) whilst the later timber frame is on the left as far as Durnford Street. The brick built sessions room is believed to have been added in the early 19th century.

The survey was sponsored by Middleton Township Heritage Lottery Fund.

Details and a copy of the report are available on the Middleton Archaeological Society website

obd dates

Middleton Research Group to be formed

Local historian and MAS founder Geoff Wellens is organising a research group to work on the history of Middleton. This is the first meeting and all are welcome.

Its on Saturday 9th January 2016 at 2.00 PM at the Olde Boars Head.

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Minutes of the 2015 AGM

Please find enclosed the minutes of our 2015 AGM. Please direct any queries to Anne Falloon our new secretary.

AGM 29 Oct 2015

MAS to discover when the Olde Boar’s was built

MAS have obtained funding from the Middleton Township Heritage Initiative to have the timbers at the OBH dated. The building has always assumed to have been built in 1632 because of a carved lintel in the cellar. (unfortunately this is no longer visible). However there are no records of when the building was built. The society have been surveying the pub which consist of 5 square timber frame bays. The pub got its first license in 1725 and it is assumed that the building was originally 2 or more houses that were joined together. The sessions room and outbuildings are extensions to the original timber frame.

MAS will be working with dendrochronology experts from Nottingham Tree-ring Laboratory . They will obtain and analyse timber samples. Hopefully these will be matched with other dated samples to age the timber and get an estimate of when the various parts of the building were constructed.

The results of the work will be announced at the MAS monthly talk on the 28th January 2016.

Mas Jan 16 talk

T-4 Days to Heritage Open Days 2015!

imgresThis year’s Heritage Open Days are almost upon us, running from Thursday 10th September to Sunday 13th September the open days give the public access to usually closed and out of bounds buildings and sites.  The doors are being open at St. Leonard’s Church and of course we have our ongoing dig just outside and adjacent to St. Leonard’s Square.  We will have a display in the church too explaining a bit about the dig and the background to the site.

Also open and down the hill is Long Street Methodist Church and School Buildings.  We have a display set up there in the corridor and a few artefacts from our recent Tonge Hall Meadow Investigations on show in the School Hall.  We hope you can visit both locations to view MAS at work and the interesting material we have found.

MAS Display Boards

MAS Display Boards

MAS Display Case in the School Hall

Display showing artefacts from Tonge Hall Meadow

MAS Display Case in the School Hall

Some fine examples of pottery

MAS Display Case in the School Hall

An oyster shell too!

MAS Display Case in the School Hall

Plus tableware – Sunday best?

Thank you Rotary!


Cliff Ivers receives the cheque from Audrey Riches

We have been successful in our grant application to the Rotary Club of Middleton.  They have awarded us £600.  This money will go towards our costs of running the St. Leonard’s Church House – The Grapes Inn excavation in August and September 2015.  Cliff was on hand to receive the cheque from Rotary Club member Audrey Riches.

Dead at Chester Cathedral

Ruth Nugent

Ruth Nugent

On Thursday 26th February we welcome Ruth Nugent to MAS.  Ruth will be presenting her talk ‘Dead at Chester Cathedral: The Burials and Commemorations at the Cathedral’.

As a mature student, Ruth received a first-class, undergraduate degree in Archaeology from Chester in 2010 and received the Blue Coat Archaeology and Heritage award as valedictorian, and the Society for Medieval Archaeology’s John Hurst prize for the ‘most original contribution to medieval archaeology by an undergraduate dissertation’.

Published work
Nugent, R. 2012 (in press) Feathered Funerals: Birds in Early Anglo-Saxon Burials. Medieval Archaeology 55.

Nugent, R. 2012 (in press) Review: The Archaeology of the East Anglian Conversion. By Richard Hoggett, Archaeological Journal, 167.

Nugent, R. (in prep.) Home Comforts? Exploring Death as Hypersomnia in early Anglo-Saxon Burials.

Nugent, R. (in prep.) Heads and Tails: The destruction and re-creation of animal-human boundaries in early medieval funerary rites.

Poster for February 2015

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