C.B.A. (Council for
British Archaeology) North West, Autumn Conference 2008.
Grosvenor Museum, Chester. Roman North-West England: Hinterland
or ‘Indian Country’?
The CBA (Council
for British Archaeology) North West, Autumn Conference 2008 was
held at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester. The theme was Roman
North-West England: Hinterland or ‘Indian Country’?
There is a ‘park & ride’ located just off the motorway but that
way I wouldn’t see much of Chester so I decided to take the
Chorley – Chester direct train and walk across the town to see
some of the sights before the meeting started.
After an introduction by Peter Carrington, Chair, CBA NW the
first speaker was Norman Redhead the Greater Manchester County
Archaeologist. He spoke about redefining the Romans in Greater
Manchester and had some very interesting aerial view of many
sites which showed how so much is still out there.
Grosvenor Museum, Chester
the lecture theatre.
Entrance foyer in the Grosvenor Museum
Entrance foyer in the Grosvenor Museum.
pollen profiles taken at the Castleshaw, map ref: SD9909 off the
A62 at Delph indicated that there was extensive agriculture
during the roman occupation but afterwards the area reverted to
wilderness. Mike Nevell, Director, University of Manchester
Archaeological Unit then spoke about rural settlements in the
north-west: expansion and contraction (boom & bust). He showed
some interesting maps that showed how some industrial sites
thrived in the north west. Pottery and villas were generally
absent. Villas and pottery production were more concentrated in
the south and some to the east. A lot of Roman salt making was
carried out in the Northwich, Middlewich and Nantwich areas and
salt is still mined in parts of Cheshire today.
of Liverpool University then spoke about who ate what and where
did it come from?
This talk covered how food was produced and transported around
the country, sometimes over great distances. Cooking pots can
also reveal the type of food stores or carried in them by fatty
residuals remaining at he top of the pot where the surface would
be while cooking. Fats may not be visible but would soak into
the ceramic. Lipid analysis (fatty acids) can reveal Plant or
animal fats and animal fats subdivided into dairy or muscle fat.
Human bone analysis via carbon & nitrogen isotopes can show
relative quantities of meat and marine food. Drover’s routes
show the long distance that cattle are driven before being
converted into food. Their bones reveal, via strontium isotope
analysis, the geological source of their drinking water so where
they were initially reared can be determined.
Peter Carrington (ctr) and Sue Stallibrass (rt)
Castleshaw Roman site.
sessions commenced with Peter Iles, Specialist Adviser
(Archaeology), Lancashire County Council speaking about the
Roman settlement at Walton-le-Dale. He covered the various
excavations on the site over the decades by Livesey and
Pickering in 1947-60 and more extensive area excavations 1980-3
by the Cumbria and Lancashire Archaeological Unit and 1996-7 by
the Lancaster University Archaeological Unit and Gifford and
Partners Ltd. The site has largely been build over by the
Capitol Centre and Preston’s Park & Ride.
Simon Esmonde Cleary, Birmingham University spoke about Wroxeter
Hinterland Project. Its focus is the Roman city of Wroxeter
(ancient Viroconium) in Shropshire. The project combines
state-of-the-art archaeological research and innovative teaching
with academic and community partnership on a large scale.
Cardiff University then spoke about Pottery in the north-west:
manufacture and distribution, economics and culture. He had many
slides of pottery but as was mentioned earlier the NW was not an
area where large amounts of pottery were produced. Most of the
slides were of pottery originating in the south.
Unfortunately I had to miss the presentation by Frances
McIntosh, Portable Antiquities Scheme Finds Liaison Officer,
National Museums Liverpool as I had to get back to the railway
to catch the next train back to Chorley.
These events are a treasure trove of information on a variety of
subjects. I would urge Chorley members to attend coming events
and bear in mind the costs are very reasonable. For £15.50 you
get membership of the CBA and a buffet lunch and coffee +
biscuits at registration and breaks. That’s what I call value.