Random Church Exploring – Marton, Cheshire

St James' and St Paul's Church, Marton, Cheshire - 2017

St James’ and St Paul’s Church, Marton, Cheshire – 2017


Having recently been working in Cheshire, I’ve encountered a few interesting places running back and forth between site and the accommodation. The Grade I Listed timber framed parish church of St James and St Paul at the village of Marton really stood out as we bombed up and down the A34.

Interior of St James' and St Paul's Church, Marton, Cheshire - 2017

Interior of St James’ and St Paul’s Church, Marton, Cheshire – 2017

Internal wall paintings in St James' and St Paul's Church, Marton, Cheshire - 2017

Internal wall paintings in St James’ and St Paul’s Church, Marton, Cheshire – 2017

St James' and St Paul's Church, Marton, Cheshire - 2017 St James’ and St Paul’s Church, Marton, Cheshire – 2017[/caption

Looking Gloomy at Astley Hall

A grey day at Astley Hall, Chorley

A grey day at Astley Hall, Chorley

Just looking through some recent snaps of places visited. Might post a few.

Exploring the Wery Wall and Roman bath house in Lancaster

General view looking east of the Wery Wall bastion and bath house

General view looking east of the Wery Wall bastion and bath house

The report produced for our assessment of the Wery Wall and Roman Bath House on Castle Hill, Lancaster is now available online. This understated and easily overlooked site is well worth a quick look around if you ever visit Lancaster. Back in the winter of 2010/11 we undertook a survey of the Wery Wall, a fragment of the late Roman coastal fort wall, and the adjacent Roman bath house remains located on Castle Hill. I seem to remember the weather being bitterly cold and snow lay on the ground for some of the time.  Festive cheer was also severely lacking at the time!

The surviving fabric on the west side of the Wery Wall bastion

The surviving fabric on the west side of the Wery Wall bastion

The Wery Wall is a surviving fragment of the late Roman coastal fort wall located on the eastern scarp of Castle Hill at the north-east corner of the Vicarage Fields, and is immediately adjacent to an earlier Roman bath house relating to an earlier fort, which it now partly overlies. The surviving remains of the Wery Wall are thought to represent the core of a polygonal external bastion on the north wall of the defences. Only the inner rubble core of the wall survives, its facing having been robbed for re-use in other buildings at some time before the early eighteenth century.

The 1970s excavations in the bath house caldarium (Lancaster Museum)

The 1970s excavations in the bath house caldarium (Lancaster Museum)

The wall and bath house were excavated in the 1950s and 1970s and the currently exposed archaeological features include at least three episodes of construction. Firstly there are walls associated with a courtyard building, secondly a bath house inserted into the courtyard building and, thirdly the surviving remnants of the Wery Wall bastion.

Detailed survey of the Wery Wall and Roman Bath House, Castle Hill, Lancaster

Detailed survey of the Wery Wall and Roman Bath House, Castle Hill, Lancaster

View looking west of the bath house caldarium and Wery Wall external ditch

View looking west of the bath house caldarium and Wery Wall external ditch

Surviving elements on site consist of extant walls on the north and west side of the caldarium, as well as one inserted through the tepidarium, are all associated with bath house inserted into the earliest courtyard building. These structures consist of the complete extents of the Caldarium and Tepidarium rooms and the partial survival of an annex room, the Praefurnium, on the south-west side.

View looking east of the bath house caldarium, Wery Wall bastion and external ditch

View looking east of the bath house caldarium, Wery Wall bastion and external ditch

The stump of bastion masonry called the Wery Wall, is the only visible evidence of the late Roman coastal fort, along with its external ditch which would have once surrounded the fort.  It was interpreted as being the inner core of a multi-angular bastion, being either a corner or interval tower set along the length of a thinner curtain wall. The external ditch was excavated and preserved where it had cut through either side of the caldarium room in the bath house.

The Wery Wall and bath house were subject to a robust scheme of consolidation works (and in some cases rebuilding) in the 1970s in order to improve their stability and to allow them to be left permanently exposed. The site has degenerated to a degree and is now in need of a phase of remedial repair works to stabilise the monuments and enable them to be subject to only minimal maintenance in the future.

Location of the Wery Wall and bath house in relation to previous excavations on Vicarage Field, Castle Hill, Lancaster

Location of the Wery Wall and bath house in relation to previous excavations on Vicarage Field, Castle Hill, Lancaster

Popped out at lunch to see the Silverdale Hoard of viking treasure

Folded sheet lead container with cut ingot bullion

Folded sheet lead container with cut ingot bullion

Since I am now back in the office and report writing for the foreseeable future I thought it was about time I went over to see the Silverdale Hoard which is currently on show at Lancaster City Museum until the 21st December (before being permanently housed at the Museum of Lancashire based in Preston). I really have had no excuse to do this as it is a five minute amble down there from my cluttered work desk. Apologies in advance for the hasty nature of my snaps.

The Silverdale hoard main display case

The Silverdale hoard main display case

The hoard was discovered in September 2011 by a metal detectorist sweeping a field in Silverdale parish in the north of the county of Lancashire and near to the present day border with Cumbria. It is the fourth largest viking hoard to be found in the UK at just over 1 kg in weight of silver, and when found it was in a pouch-like container fashioned from a folded sheet of lead. The hoard probably dates to just after 900 AD, and contains 27 coins, 10 arm-rings, 2 finger-rings, 14 ingots, 6 brooch fragments, a fine wire braid and 141 fragments of arm-rings and ingots which had been chopped up and turned into hacksilver.

Group of three nested arm rings with a combination of Irish, Anglo-Saxon and Carolingian-style decoration

Group of three nested arm rings with a combination of Irish, Anglo-Saxon and Carolingian-style decoration

Bullion ring or currency ring

Bullion ring or currency ring

A few notable items are the coin of an unknown ‘Harthacnut’ from the early tenth century, a name previously only known from coinage of the eleventh century son of the famous King Cnut, and another ‘fake’ silver plated coin. ‘Pecking’ a practice of chipping of piece of metal from the coin to test whether it is genuine, has often been observed, but until recently no forgeries have ever been found from the period, clearly indicating the efficiency of the practice.  Last but by no means least, is a nest of armrings, containing a stamped motif, directly paralleled by an armring fragment found in the Cuerdale hoard from Cuerdale, also in Lancashire, which dates to, and was probably buried, around the same time.

Broad band arm ring with triple pelleted triangular stamped decoration

Broad band arm ring with triple pelleted triangular stamped decoration

Penannular arm ring decorated with transverse bar stamps of double saltires

Penannular arm ring decorated with transverse bar stamps of double saltires

Arm ring with elaborate punched decoration and riveted repair patch

Arm ring with elaborate punched decoration and riveted repair patch

The beginning of the tenth century was a period of some instability on the coasts around the Irish sea. In 902 the Viking had been expelled from Dublin by the Irish, and seem to have looked to the coast of North Wales, and North West England for places to settle. The Wirral peninsula contains a wealth of viking age material from this period found at Meols on the coast, and the hoards at Silverdale and Cuerdale both date to shortly after this. It was an expulsion that was to last 15 years until finally in 917 the vikings reclaimed Dublin.

Group of silver coins including English pennies (and Viking imitations), Arabic dirhems and Frankish deniers

Group of silver coins including English pennies (and Viking imitations), Arabic dirhems and Frankish deniers

Selection of hacksilver

Selection of hacksilver

Hacksilver fragments cut from penannular brooches

Hacksilver fragments cut from penannular brooches

Hacksilver fragment of broad band arm ring

Hacksilver fragment of broad band arm ring

Silver chain or braid of fine knitted wires

Silver chain or braid of fine knitted wires

Special thanks should go to my colleague Adam Parsons for information about the context to the hoard. Please check out his viking blog.

There are better images of the hoard group from when it was all laid out that were posted on Flickr by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and other images of the opening of the display in Lancaster on the BBC News website.