One of the challenges facing modern archaeologists working in a commercial environment is sharing the findings from fieldwork projects in a format that is easily accessible. In 2010, the Greater Manchester Archaeology Unit (now the Greater Manchester Archaeological Advisory Service) addressed this issue by inaugurating a series of short booklets about the archaeology of the Manchester region. Rapidly gaining acclaim as a model of how the results of developer-funded archaeology can be made available to the general public, the volumes produced in the Greater Manchester’s Past Revealed series adhere to a uniform template that varies between 40 and 50 pages in length, heavily illustrated with historical maps, archive images and photographs of the work undertaken.
Twelve volumes had been produced by the end of 2014, more than half of which present the findings from Oxford Archaeology North’s investigations of historic industrial sites in advance of redevelopment. These include excavations of Manchester’s first purpose-built steam-powered textile mill and associated workers’ housing (Volume 1), a thriving nineteenth-century industrial suburb of Bury (Volume 2), collieries, iron foundries, chemical works, and railway engineering works in East Manchester (Volumes 4, 6, 9 and 11). One booklet is dedicated to the region’s textile-finishing industries, and synthesises the research, survey and excavation of several calico printing works, bleach works and dye works along the Irwell Valley (Volume 6). All of these booklets provide the historical context for the archaeological work undertaken, an explanation of the industrial processes involved, and the planning context to each project.
Not all of the volumes have resulted from developer-funded work, however, and several describe community-led archaeology projects undertaken by local societies, including excavations at Newton Hall and Timperley Old Hall (Volumes 7 and 8), whilst Volume 10 summarises a numerous excavations and surveys carried out on behalf of the National Trust on the Dunham Massey Estate. Volume 12 was produced as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Cheadle Civic Society, and sets out the early history of the village and archaeological work carried out by local groups and as commercial excavations since 2005.
Since the inception of the series in 2010, there has been an intention to make the booklets freely available in a downloadable PDF format once the supply of hard copies becomes exhausted. This aspiration has now been achieved, and digital copies of this commended series are currently becoming available. Volumes 1-4, 6, and 9 (written and published by Oxford Archaeology North) and volume 5, are now avalable here as a free download. Click on the thumbnail below to begin.