Community Dig Concluded

In February, county archaeologist and project manager Derek Hurst addressed a packed meeting of members and volunteers to explain what had been found during the community dig that took place in the field north of Quay Lane in September/October 2012. Over the course of the   project, some 60 volunteers found 1902 artefacts weighing 142 kg in five trenches. Much of this material was slag and iron waste from smelting furnaces – evidence that Hanley Castle was a significant industrial site in Roman times.

One trench uncovered a trackway and ditch at one end and a raised area with patches of fine gravel with large quantities of hammerscale (small flakes produced when iron is hammered) at the other. This rare discovery indicates the site of a blacksmith’s workshop.

Another trench revealed a shallow gully filled with pottery fragments. This may have provided drainage for a roundhouse of about 10m diameter, which would indicate the presence of a newly discovered Roman settlement. The evidence points to it being a 2nd century AD development.

The size of the industrial working uncovered implies that the river was once of key importance, so that the quay now tucked away down a quiet lane, must once have been at the centre of the economic life of a busy and industrious Hanley Castle.

A full report about the dig can be found online at It allows access to layers of information not previously available on an archaeological dig. For example, zooming in on a trench and clicking on a feature reveals more about it and the finds made there.

A Base Maps tab allows a diagram of the trenches to be overlaid by a series of old maps, so that you can see what the land was used for and how the  layout of roads and fields changed in 1797, 1812, 1852, 1903 and the  present day. Another tab gives access to a summary of the dig and its findings, while a third allows the viewer to see captioned photographs of the dig in progress.

Derek Hurst said this Heritage Lottery funded project was an excellent example of a successful partnership between a local community and professional archaeologists.

For more information about the dig click here.


  1. Les
    Posted Sep 26, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    shame no pre Roman finds were made,
    i know Celtic coins were found further down towards Upton in the late 80’s and much medieval material west of the Upton to Powick Road.

    • Malcolm Fare
      Posted Sep 26, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      Tell me more. What was found, where and who by?