Author Archives: Cliff Ivers

Weekend Dig Planned at Hopwood Millers Cottage

We are having so much fun on the Tuesday session, it has been decided to run a weekend dig on Saturday and Sunday 20/21 June 2015. 9.30 -4.0 PM This will give our working members the chance to experience troweling and recording some of the fantastic features we have found there.

Please email or ring Cliff on 07740351814 if you would like to book a place.


MAS continue Olde Boar’s Head workshops

MAS have been working for some time now on trying to record and understand the history of this iconic Middleton Golden Cluster building. Last night (7 May 2015) we held a member workshop and invited the 1980’s architect who oversaw some of the restoration. Douglas Newton was joined by David Morris from the Arts and Craft Awakening. and local historian Geoff Wellens. 

MAS discussing the bricked up doorway

The building has been altered considerably over the years and we are trying to decide if it was a series of small workers cottages or two high status homes . The building was part of Middleton Glebe (owned by St. Leonard’s Church) until the 1880’s when Middleton corporation bought it. It became a public house in the 1730’s and is currently leased by JW Lees.

It is generally accepted that the building was built in 1632. MAS hope to produce a visitor leaflet in time for this years Golden Cluster Heritage week.

Hopwood Mill Cottage excavation blog

Sunday 2nd August

Only 4 diggers this weekend, must be the rain. Speaking of which, the Millers Cottage must have been very damp and prone to flooding. The internal drain was added post first phase construction but the fireplace is on top of it. Also found some animal bones in the external French drain including beef rib.

Tuesday 28 July

We must have had about 18 days on site now. I think 2 of the days were dry! We’ve found a drain going S-N under the cottage. It consist of brick sides and stone roof. For some reason it does a dog leg under the back wall towards the river

 Tuesday 23 June

Very dark and chilly in the woods, when’s summer?  Found a Royal Association of Buffolos clay pipe, late C18/ early C19 today.

 Saturday 21 June, Sunday 22 June. Good news, we found a corner of man made bricks, hopefully lying on the earlier stone wall. Bad news, the other corner is under our spoil heap!


NW corner of cottages

Tuesday 9 June

Arrived to find the fairies had visited the dig again and set fire to our tarps. They missed  this C19 clay pipe.

 Tuesday 2 June

Flamin June was wet and windy today but 5 of us got stuck in. The trench is cleaning up nicely but we are planning to extend to try and find a corner. The Bluebells are dying off to be replaced by Hymalayn Balsam, how sad. It feels good to pull them out as you pass. My time lapse of the bluebells over 5 weeks is below.

       Tuesday 26 May

Day 8 confirmed that the two stone walls are external as the both have French drains running outside. These are both later than the stone wall. The tree roots are making it difficult work and there a lots of features that need cleaning up. 

The A team manage a smile

 Tuesday 19 May

Memory gone on phone so no pics this week. Several new features appeared today as the last of the top soil was removed from area A. They included the base of a fireplace and a water drain running outside the South wall. The Garden feature is becoming even more interesting.We are shortly to announce a weekend dig on the site on 21/22 June so working members have no excuses for not turning up.
Tuesday 12 May

No rain today. Bluebells are looking even bluer than last week, and there are white bluebells growing in places. We joined Trenches 1&2 today and christened the new creation Area A. We found a new stone foundation wall at the North of the trench.

South stone foundation wall

Tuesday 5 May

Day 6 was rather wet at first but brightened up later in the day, 5 MAS members joined in. The woods change every time we walk up the lane, today the bluebells were looking rather splendid. Trench 2 was the center of attention with Geoff Wellens finding another foundation wall before dashing off to his next project. The wall is North South orientation of single end on hand made brick. This is not quite perpendicular to the hefty West East stone foundation found last week.

Trench 2 found a non linear feature, a brick circle that appears to be ornamental. Next week we may join the trenches and see where a walk up the garden path leads us.


Non Linear brick feature in T1


Tuesday 28 April

Day five of this fantastic dig saw three merry men and  four women brave the four seasons in one day including several hailstorms. A first timer, Jenny, showed the Trench 2 team how to find a cottage and uncovered a lovely stone wall. Trench 1 was extended to find the full extent of the pathway to the bridge. We located another segment of mill stone that appears to be made of volcanic rock.

   Tuesday 21 April

The time team expanded to nine due in part to the wonderful weather or perhaps word has got out on the exciting archaeology we are finding? The first job was to recover the wheelbarrow and spades from the river where some kind passer by had put them for safe keeping. Trench one is showing a substantial pathway and we found a cobbled surface today that was cleaned by our cobble specialist Sonia. Trench two is a bit of a nightmare with demolition rubble and tree roots. Next Tuesday should reveal some of the cottage walls.


Wheelbarrow and Mill Bridge


Trench one


Trench Two

 Tuesday 14 April

The first Tuesday and day three of the Mill Cottage investigation. Seven diggers turned up to enjoy the sunshine, birdsong and babbling of the River Trub. The main ditch is starting to show some surfaces and cuts, we are slowly removing the demolition layers. The footpath has turned up a simple carving of “Bobies grave” which may indicate a family pet buried in the garden. We will see if Marian has any recollection.

Join us next Tuesday 21 April if you fancy a day in the woods.


Middletons Timeteam


Bobies Grave carved into garden path

Sunday 12 April

he first weekend went well with 8 people attending, luckily the weather turned out better than forecast. We have two trenches started, T1 is on the footpath from the front door of the cottage to the remains of the footbridge. T 2 is showing lots of demolition rubble but signs of the N and S walls are beginning to come through. Some interesting finds…

T1 prior to clean up


Quarter section of course mill stone and roof tile found next to site


Saturday 11th April

The dig commenced with a visit from Marian who was born in Bothy cottage some 84 years ago. Geoff Wellens recorded her memories of living there with her family. This included crossing the bridge to fetch water from the spring and stories of her fathers pony and cart. She used to collect firewood for the lady who lived in the hall.


Marian visits the site of the cottage


Geoff Wellens records the event

A reference to a mill house occurs in 1781-2 described as of two bays. The building appears on the 1840 tithe map as a rectangular narrow structure.  The adjacent corn mill ceased operation in the 1880s but the cottage continued to be used by Hopwood estate workers and their families. Known as Bothy Cottage, It was demolished in the 1940’s.


Hopwood Mill Cottage


1848 map with notation by Geoff Wellens

Tonge Hall Meadow Blog

We are hoping to provide live updates and photographs of this weekends dig (21/22 Mar 15)

Dig finished Monday at 12:00. It was a great weekend and we hope to publish our findings soon. Next one Hopwood Mill Cottage…..

Rather large post hole with 20th C remains including crisp packets and coke can!   


Tonge Hall Farm 1923

Sunday 16.00; one of the trenches has been filled in and we are going back to finish the other on Monday morning.

The wall at the bottom is the 19c farmhouse and joins on to a much earlier stone foundation going from top to bottom. Not sure what the steel strip is but we can’t seem to move it.

  The picture below of Trench 15 shows the old foundation with a cobbled surface outside the building. The trench was completed by a first time archaeologist and his enthusiastic teenage daughter.

  Typical, men leaning on shovels and supervising the workers.  The Matthews beer bottle   


This is what we found last year at the NW corner.

Online Membership Application and Payment now available

MAS now have a Paypal account and can process membership subscriptions via our website

The form is here


MAS dig schedule is released

We have a very busy year planned in 2015 culminating in a four week excavation of the Church House cellar next to St Leonard’s. We hope to have an open day on the last Sunday to coincide with Middletons heritage weekend.

We start work in March attempting to date the stone foundations found next to Tonge Hall. Also we plan to fully excavate the foundations of the Millers Cottage next to Hopwood Corn Mill.

MAS 2015 dig programme

Please drop me an email if you wish to book a place.

1604 map of Lancashire discovered at Rylands

A unique 17th century map of Lancashire found at John Rylands Library has been placed on display for the first time in 400 years.

The unique 17th century map found at the John Rylands Library

The unique 17th century map found at the John Rylands Library

The Elizabethan hand-drawn document, which shows towns and villages including Diddsbury (Didsbury), Garton (Gorton), and Stopford (Stockport) – provides a fascinating glimpse into centuries past.

The map was created by cartographer Herald William Smith and has lain virtually untouched in the Manchester library’s collection for nearly 40 years.

The spidery script – which could almost be taken from JRR Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings – shows that present day districts were known by different handles during the time of William Shakespeare.

The map, which shows the Rivers Tame and Irk in striking detail, includes districts such as Straingwaish (Strangeways), Wordsall (Ordsall), Edgcroft (Agecroft). and Prestroich (Prestwich).

It is thought the map was made between 1602 and 1604 – long before Manchester became a thriving industrial powerhouse.

The document was bequeathed to the Manchester University-run library by Leonard Penna, a collector from Cornwall.

Hopwood Clean Up on Rochdale Online

Our October clean up of the old mill has been reported in both the Middleton Guardian and Rochdale Online

Dig Over

imageimageAfter a very enjoyable weekend the MAS team opened a bottle of homebrew in true time-team fashion. Probably the first beer drank there in over 150 years.

Marking Out

Robert and Cliff are marking out the trenches from 2.30 tomorrow (Friday). Anybody want to help out?

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