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Archaeological Dig - Eckington Road Bridge


cheshire~rose
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This article is a few weeks old now but I have been rather too busy to share it with you here so apologies to anyone who is already aware of it.

 

In early August, volunteers digging out the channel to restore the Chesterfield Canal in Staveley discovered some stone remains.

They asked Dr Geraint Coles, archaeologist and former Chesterfield Canal Development Manager, to come and have a look. He immediately decided that the site deserved to be properly investigated. Following an email appeal for helpers by the Chesterfield Canal Trust, the dig was arranged for 15th and 16th August.

 

The remains were of the walls and invert (floor) of the original Eckington Road Bridge over the canal, built in about 1776. It is quite incredible that it has remained intact, because three other bridges and a railway line have all been built within a few yards in the following 240 years.

 

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If you spot the orange Chesterfield Canal Trust van, the site of the old bridge was under the bridge by the van!

 

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Note the tightly packed stone across the invert (floor)

 

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As was expected, there were lots of objects found in the mud, such as old bottles, miners’ lamp and candle holders, a gentleman's sword stick and a clay pipe. Of particular interest were three coins, including a George III half penny, dated 1772 or 1773. Of this, Dr Coles said “This coin is probably a forgery as the obverse and reverse are inverted. This would not be unusual as the county was flooded with forged copper coins during the 1770's. What a great find and bang on date!”

 

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Top left - Victorian penny - 1858.
To right - the forged George lll half penny.
Bottom - believed to be a half penny.

 

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This bottle was one of the more interesting ones - Simmonite and Sons, Chesterfield - with the sign of the Spread Eagle. Presumably this is from the pub on Beetwell Street

 

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We were only able to spend a few hours helping out but it was so fascinating that we had to drag ourselves away. We had only gone along to help organise the volunteers and make the tea but ended up with a bowl of water and a soft toothbrush washing off the objects that were being handed to us from the trench. There was something really amazing about handling an object that was last handled by someone who dropped it off the bridge over 200 years ago.

 

It also confirms that people have been chucking stuff off bridges for as long as there have been bridges :)

 

There are a lot more photos of the dig and the objects found on the website here:

 

http://www.chesterfield-canal-trust.org.uk/index.php/latest-news/press-releases/688-archaeological-dig-on-the-chesterfield-canal

 

They have suggested there are other sites that they would like to excavate and I hope we can get involved with them too.

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Thanks Flyboy

 

The other thing that people following the restoration might find interesting about this aerial view is it clearly shows the progress the Chesterfield Canal Trust Work Party are making on the canal (with much help from WRG on various camps)

 

This is another recent photo of the area you can see towards the bottom of that photo and shows what will become a new winding hole:

 

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This is a plan of the area to help you understand what you are looking at:

 

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You can see that the work on the canal has now extended from the lock that has been the focus of attention for the last couple of years and moved on under both road bridges.

 

The lock is due to be officially opened on 28th May next year and so boats will be winding in that winding hole by then.

 

For more details about the restoration progress (including loads more photos to help you slot the various bits into the right place on the plan) you can go to this link:

 

http://www.chesterfield-canal-trust.org.uk/index.php/gallery/photos/494-staveley-town-lock

Edited by cheshire~rose
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Any pics of the swordstick? It is amazing to think that people routinely walked about with a walking stick which concealed a long thin bayonet-like blade in it :huh:

 

Not sure if they are illegal but if being sold on eBay they have to be well disguised or will be removed from sale.

 

I guess the one found may be in poor condition anyway..

 

Nice collection of other bits :)

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Yes the swordstick was in very poor condition. I have just had a look at the snaps I took on the day and it can be seen in this photo but it does not show the entire thing:

 

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It is that rusty crust bar in the middle of the photo. What the picture does not show is the very thin blade at the other end. The very fine piece of metal on the right hand side that looks like an allen key actually had a rather sharp blade and I suspect that might be some sort of medical or dental tool?

 

ETA Dr Geraint Coles has all the items and is going to properly identify them and catalogue them. When we hear some more info I will update the forum.

 

 

oh and edited again to say that the bit of pottery just to the right of the Victorian marble which is the top rim and shoulders of some sort of bottle or jar is thought to date from about the same time as the canal.

Edited by cheshire~rose
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Most interesting collection of treasures.

 

Can anybody explain how the glass bottles become opaque while lurking in the canal ?

 

I was told that old bottles that have lain in water or wet earth for many years can become cloudy due to them absorbing some of the minerals out of the earth they lay in or indeed any contents that were left in it when it was discarded (in this case as it was a beer bottle that is unlikely!)

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They are i think illegal in the uk to carry around as they are a concealed weapon. we inherited one that belonged to our great grandfather, not good quality and the blade was about 3 inches long and slid from the handle and locked by a catch, to be honest the stick itself would be more effective than the blade bit. At least in the version we have.

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They are i think illegal in the uk to carry around as they are a concealed weapon. we inherited one that belonged to our great grandfather, not good quality and the blade was about 3 inches long and slid from the handle and locked by a catch, to be honest the stick itself would be more effective than the blade bit. At least in the version we have.

 

My step father had one. The blade was the full length of the stick. Mind you this was in the sixties. As I remember he only ever used it as a decorative item. My brother and I thought it was awesome though.

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