Although we finished excavating at Whitworth Park in mid-September, our work does not stop there! Over the duration of the excavation we collected hundreds of artefacts from each different archaeological layer that we excavated. The artefacts were bagged up, given finds numbers to identify them and, at the end of the dig, they were brought back to the labs in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Manchester.
All of the artefacts that we collected will be really useful for finding out the dates that different layers were deposited and finding out more about what people were doing in the park at different times. But before we can get that information from them there is a lot of work to do!
This work began the week after the excavation finished when local volunteers, people from the Friends of Whitworth Park and students from the University of Manchester all came together to undertake an intensive week of post-excavation work. This included washing all of the finds in water, brushing them clean with toothbrushes, dry brushing all of the metal artefacts, dividing up the finds by the material that they were made of (e.g. glass, ceramics, metal), drying any wet finds and then starting to catalogue each of the finds or groups of finds.
This part of the post-excavation process can seem a little overwhelming at times, especially when there are as many finds as we had to wash! However many hands made light work and the team washed almost all of the artefacts and started to catalogue them. The kinds of artefacts they began to identify already provide a fascinating snap shot of activities at the park. For example there are lots of marbles, including original marbles from codd bottles, and then more commercialised marbles with a coloured glass insert. These marbles and the “five stones” gaming pieces that we found, as well as later items such as a plastic toy plane, all resonate with the idea that Whitworth Park was at one point known as “The Children’s Park”, and must have been a place where all sorts of games were played. However we have also found other things – glass bottles, some perhaps for medicine, and ceramic dishes, such as serving dishes. These all point to other Victorian and Edwardian uses of the park, including as a place for respite from illness and a place to relax and take tea.
Our post-excavation work continues on a weekly basis, with student volunteers continuing to wash, sort and catalogue artefacts. We hope this work will be completed by Christmas time and in the future the artefacts will go to a specialist who will be able to tell us lots more about them. We look forward to telling you more about it in the future!