Since October 2014 CFA Archaeology have been intensively working under a large scaffolding tent on Cross Street, one of the busiest streets in the centre of Manchester. Due to the nature of our work; which involved the excavation of nearly 300 graves, this project has been undertaken with a high degree of sensitivity and we have not been able to share our discoveries in any detail. Now that the main fieldwork has come to an end we are able to talk a little more about what we have been up to.
Being in the centre of Manchester and excavating up to 4m below the pavement presented many problems; the area is criss-crossed with electric, gas and water services, not to mention CCTV and telephone cables. Part of the area was inundated with ground water from a nearby spring. Despite all this the excavation proceeded with our dedicated team of archaeologists and osteoarchaeologists working extended hours and weekends to get the job done.
It’s too early to say what we have learned so far as we have only just removed the last of the burials and there is a whole programme of post-excavation work, research and analysis to come, but the remains recovered date from the early 18th century to the mid 19th century and have the potential to shed light on a critically important period in the development of Manchester, when it was one of the key sites of the Industrial Revolution. We will be able to shed light on the diet, health and lifestyle of the people of the period and together with the growing body of information from cemeteries in Manchester, contribute to the building up of a detailed picture of 18th and 19th century life in the city.
There will be more updates to follow as the post-excavation phase progresses. Please watch this space!