Warrington’s Travellers’ Rest Stones

Historic England has added two new list entries and has revised four existing entries for stone seats designed by Warrington resident, Dr James Kendrick, to allow migrant workers to rest on the journey between Liverpool and Manchester.


Stone block inscribed TRAVELLERS REST

Change to HER Search Charges

From 1st April 2023 the following charges will apply.

These charges cover a licence to reuse Historic Environment Record information for commercial purposes. Large research projects are advised to contact the Historic Environment Record to discuss their requirements and a licence charge may be applicable. No charge is made for any follow up visits to the HER to view aerial photographs, reports etc. Please note VAT is not payable on Historic Environment Record charges.

  • Standard HER search: £75
  • Extended HER search: £150
  • Custom HER search: Price on application

No charge is made for members of the public requiring Historic Environment Record information for non‐commercial purposes.

For further information on requesting a Historic Environment Record (HER) search please see

Consulting the HER | (cheshirearchaeology.org.uk)

Publication of the Excavations at Saighton Army Camp, Huntington, Chester

A report on excavations at Saighton Camp has recently been published by Archaeopress. It is available to buy as a paperback book and also as an Open access PDF ebook.

Excavations at Chester. Roman land division and a probable villa in the hinterland of Deva reports on excavations carried out by Northern Archaeological Associates (NAA) at Saighton Camp – a former British Army training camp – located to the south of the Roman legionary fortress of Chester (Deva Victrix) which revealed important and extensive Roman period remains. Part of a high-status settlement of second- to fourth-century date, together with a regular field system laid out over more than 20 hectares, were encountered.

Link to the Archaeopress website with further details

Historic England’s Aerial Archaeology Mapping Explorer

Minshull Vernon Moat
Minshull Vernon Moat photographed by Dr R Philpott in 1990

Historic England have launched a new web site, the Aerial Archaeology Mapping Explorer, which makes the results of over 30 years’ of aerial photograph mapping projects undertaken by Historic England and its predecessor organisations since the late 1980s, as well as many partner organisations, freely available online.

Hundreds of thousands of aerial photographs, ranging in date from the 1920s to the present, have been studied and the archaeological features visible recorded. More recently, innovative technologies such as lidar (airborne laser scanning), have been added to the resources used. Each mapped archaeological site includes a link to any associated record on the National Record of the Historic Environment and local Historic Environment Records published on the Heritage Gateway.

The new website is available at: https://historicengland.org.uk/research/results/aerial-archaeology-mapping-explorer/

Roman Middlewich Excavation Open Day

Join the staff of Oxford Archaeology North for a guided tour of the current excavations at Roman Middlewich.

The site, which is located on the back plots of several Roman buildings, has so far uncovered evidence of Roman industrial activity, including including timber lined wells, salt tanks and kilns, as well as intact Roman pots and other finds which will also be available to view.

The tours of the site will take place at various times during the day on the 5th October and require booking in advance via eventbrite.


A black burnished ware pottery vessel from the excavation (© Oxford Archaeology North)

Grosvenor Park Excavations 2021

Grosvenor Park Dig 2021 team photo
Grosvenor Park Dig 2021 team photo

The 15th season of excavations in Grosvenor Park, Chester took place this year from 19 April – 14 May. The excavation, run by West Cheshire Museums, is a partnership project with the University of Chester and provides training for the Department of History and Archaeology second-year students. The 2020 season was postponed and shortened to two weeks due to the pandemic but this year, with Covid-safety measures in place, the full four-week excavation was able to take place with 24 students.
Previous seasons have revealed much new, and often remarkable, information about this area of Chester and its inhabitants and 2021 consolidated that information.

The Site

Excavation this year was focused on Trench VIII which was extended to both the west and south to test for evidence of an accompanying bank associated with the large 9th/10th century ditch investigated in 2019. The new extensions to the trench exposed a large expanse of building debris associated with the demolition of Cholmondeley’s house as part of the Parliamentarian siege of Chester during the Civil War.
Towards the eastern end of Trench VIII a north-south aligned medieval ditch and accompanying stone revetment wall had been tentatively identified during the 2020 season. Investigation of the upper fills of this ditch in 2021 confirmed that the final phase of infilling had taken place during the 16th century. The uppermost part of this infilling produced a well-preserved piece of Romanesque sculpture which had probably originally decorated part of the adjacent Church of St John the Baptist

Image of a sculpted stone head
Sculpted stone architectural fragment

Part of the exposed stone revetment wall within the medieval ditch was seen to have an opening built in to it to accommodate the outflow from a connecting stone culvert. A similar feature had been previously noted to the north when another section of this wall was uncovered in Trench IV during the 2015 season. These details confirm that the ditch had originally functioned as the outflow for a complex drainage system associated with the precinct around St John’s church during the Medieval period.

The Finds

The 2021 finds assemblage was retrieved from two principle features: the medieval ditch and the Civil War destruction layer.
The deposits filling the re-cut of the medieval ditch produced pottery that indicates the ditch was still open in the 16th century. The lowest fill produced an almost complete Cistercian-type ware cup (Photo. no. 2) similar in form to examples from the 25 Bridge Street excavations and from the Rainford pottery production site near to St Helen’s, Merseyside. Whilst Cistercian-type wares may occur elsewhere in England as early as the late 15th century, the evidence to date suggests that locally they were in use in the 16th century. Another 16th century vessel is represented by two joining pieces from a Cologne stoneware jug dated to between 1525 and 1550. Fragments of a range of 16th century imported pottery and glass have been found scattered throughout deposits across the site.
Abundant quantities of bone were the principal find from the ditch deposits, and the apparently wide range of mammal, fish and bird bone suggests high status food consumption at a time where not just the quantity but the variety of meats made available to guests signified the hosts’ wealth and status. The find of a cetacean vertebra, a porpoise or dolphin, emphasises the potential status of the occupants of the site

Image of a cetacean vertebra
Cetacean Vertebra

Cetacean bones tend to be found on high status sites where roast porpoise would have featured on the menu; a favourite dish of Queen Elizabeth I it fell out of favour after the 16th century. For reference see this link to an academic paper from UCL.

The Civil War destruction layer produced a wide variety of finds but is significant for the large assemblage of late medieval and early post-medieval building materials and artefacts associated with military activity – one of the largest assemblages found in the city. In addition to a variety of sizes of lead shot, both used and flattened by impact a large number of gunpowder holder caps were found as well as a potential musket rest and top of a pike.

Notable amongst the building material is a quantity of floor tiles retrieved in the area above the mortar surface first identified in 2020; the limited range of designs suggest a single floor. These pose the question whether a floor of the late medieval building survived the late 16th century modifications by the Cholmondeleys. Pieces of late 16th/early 17th century moulded plaster and a piece of carved stone are potentially from a decorative fireplace, these and the imported tablewares suggest a household of some luxury. An unusual find of a beautifully made medieval bone stylus (60 mm long) found in the area of the floor tiles is perhaps an artefact from the former chapel of the confraternity of St Anne

Julie Edwards and Dan Garner

Acknowledgements: we are grateful to Ian Smith, Oxford Archaeology North for identifying the cetacean bone, the staff of Grosvenor Park for facilitating the excavation and John Crisp of Land Recovery for the opening and backfilling of the trench.

The Archaeologists are back in Grosvenor Park 2021

The annual archaeological excavations in Chester’s Grosvenor Park have returned for four weeks until 14 May run by Cheshire West and Chester Council in partnership with the University of Chester.

Maria Byrne, Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Director, Environment and Communities said: “The excavations are part of a project to discover more about the landscape that surrounded Chester’s Roman Amphitheatre and the impact of the abandoned amphitheatre on the development of the area now occupied by the Church of St John the Baptist and Grosvenor Park.

“The excavation enables second year archaeology students to gain valuable practical experience and has been revealing new information about Chester’s archaeology.

“Thanks to Ringway for their generous support in making both a JCB and dumper truck available to this project and the staff of Grosvenor Park for making the facilities of the park available for the excavation.”

The Medieval ditch, Grosvenor Park
The Medieval ditch, Grosvenor Park

Visitors are welcome to view the work and ask questions from a safe distance. Monday to Friday 9.30 am to 12.30 pm and 1.30 pm to 4.30pm.
Distancing and cleaning measures will make sure the excavation takes place with Covid safe procedures in place and after months of studying and working at home the students and archaeologists from the Grosvenor Museum and L – P : Archaeology are pleased to be working in the Park and engaging with the local community.

The discoveries so far show this part of the Park was certainly busier than it is today. A Roman road led across the Park towards the Amphitheatre, a very large Saxon ditch appears to have run north to south and a medieval ditch bordered a large medieval building, probably part of the hospital and chapel of St. Anne which stood in the precinct of St John’s church. In the late 16th century Sir Hugh Cholmondeley converted these buildings into a grand house that was later destroyed in the English Civil War.

Excavating the Civil War destruction layer, Grosvenor Park

Dr Caroline Pudney, University of Chester said: “We’re so pleased that it has been possible for our students to undertake their practical fieldwork training in Grosvenor Park. We are immensely proud to be involved in something positive during the pandemic through the students’ continuing and valuable role in uncovering less-understood elements of Chester’s heritage. This excavation leads to a new and important understanding of the city’s past and creates an opportunity for our ‘Citizen Students’ to work in partnership with local heritage organisations to generate a broader appreciation of local, national and global histories.”

This year’s excavation will be asking:
• Is there any evidence for pre-historic buildings or farming such as was found at the Amphitheatre?
• Were there any buildings by the side of the Roman road?
• Was the Saxon ditch part of a fortification?
• Does the medieval ditch continue across the Park and when was it dug?
• What was happening in this corner of St John’s precinct in the later medieval period?
• What changes did Sir Hugh Cholmondeley make when he first bought the land?
The students will be posting updates throughout the excavation from the social media channels of the History and Archaeology Department and the Grosvenor Museum (@HistArchChester on Instagram and Twitter and @ArchaeologyChester on Facebook; @cwacmuseums on Twitter and @GrosvenorMuseumAndStrettonWaterMill on Facebook).

Historic Environment Record (HER) COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS)UPDATE – 22 October 2020

HER Searches

The HER is currently closed for visitors.

If you have a commercial search you can still make a HER search request  but please note that the this will take longer than usual as the HER staff are now working remotely. We can only be reached by email at present.

General HER Enquiries

There is likely to be a delay in responding to direct public research enquiries to the HER. We can only be reached by email at present

For general (non commercial) enquiries we would recommend consulting the online version of the Historic Environment Record database in the first instance: Revealing Cheshire’s Past.

You can also use the Heritage Gateway for access to other online sources about the Historic Environment.


Historic Maps and aerial photographs can be viewed using the Cheshire Tithes online


More Historic maps have been digitised by the National Library of Scotland and can be viewed here


Grosvenor Park (Chester) Training Dig 2020: Round-up

This year’s excavation consisted of an extended Trench VIII which was first opened in 2017. Two extensions were added partly to investigate the extent of the medieval buildings, their later use and whether there was any evidence of Roman or earlier activity and partly to ensure that enough space was available to allow ‘safe distancing’. During the 2019 season the deposits in the trench had suffered from the very hot weather which meant the clay rich soils were baked hard leading to difficulty in identifying different features. This year however the rain and cooler weather made it easier to identify features and help understand their significance. A very wet afternoon gave us the opportunity to wash some of the finds, more need to cleaned and sorted so below is just the first overview of the discoveries.

In the extension to the south and west we came across the layer of Civil War destruction debris that has been spread over Trench IV and the main area of Trench VIII. The layer was made up of irregularly-shaped roof slates, fragments of ceramic roof tile, bricks dating from the 16th and early 17th century, plaster, mortar and a variety of objects and animal bones. Lead shot and gun powder holder caps were scattered across the layer and a possible iron musket rest was found by metal detectorist Colin Sharratt from spoil from the western extension. This is the first type of firearms equipment other that shot and gun powder holders to be found on the site. Within the destruction layer and the charcoal layer beneath in the southern extension a greater concentration of 16th century finds were found than in previous years, most notably pieces of Low Countries tin-glazed ware and Raeren and Cologne stoneware mugs/jugs. These and fragments of Venetian style glass fragments that would have been from very attractive vessels suggests fine dining in a wealthy household.

A pit was found cutting into and through the Civil War deposit on the northern edge of the southern extension this produced 18th century pottery including a piece of sugar mould and some very fine pieces of white salt glazed stoneware tea-bowls and saucers, including some with scratch-blue decoration. These dainty vessels represent the 18th century fashion for tea parties using the relatively new but increasingly popular tea and sugar and are another sign of the relatively wealthy households located in this area of Chester in the earlier post-medieval period.

Residual Roman and medieval objects were found in this area of the trench the most intriguing of which are an intaglio and a late medieval pilgrim badge. The tiny amethyst intaglio is only 8mm long and shows the figure of Mercury, Prof Martin Henig identified the gemstone for us and he comments that it is late first century in date and would have been worn on a small signet ring similar to some found during the 2004-2006 Chester amphitheatre excavations where a group of similarly dated intaglios were also found. A lead alloy badge in the form of a comb represents the symbol of St Blaise (thought to be a 4th century bishop in Asia Minor) whose shrine was at Canterbury, he was the patron saint of wool combers but due to a miracle he performed people sought his help for throat ailments. The badge would have been worn by someone who had made the pilgrimage to Canterbury or perhaps by someone given it to help them during an illness. It is the first pilgrim souvenir to have been identified from an excavation in the city although such items have been found elsewhere in Cheshire and at Meols.

Meanwhile as the Civil War layer was being removed in the western extension more and more late medieval floor tiles were found. Beneath the deposit was a sandy layer and on the very last day a small area of mortar was found and is probably a bedding layer for a tiled floor suggesting, along with the robbed out remains of a wall found in 2018/19, that we have the remains of a building at that end of the trench.

In the eastern section of the trench a band of sandstone rubble was exposed running north to south and lining up with a sandstone block on the very southern edge of the trench indicating the presence of the medieval boundary wall of the precinct of the Church of St John the Baptist. This discovery resolves questions from 2019 as to whether the wall existed in this area. To the east of this a rectangular cut pit was found in the layer of red clay on the edge of the medieval ditch found in previous years. The pit runs into the northern section and might be linked to pits found in 2007 outside the precinct area, very few things were found in the pit but late medieval pottery suggests the earliest possible date for its backfilling.

As usual the dig had a good number of visitors some of whom are local and visit every year to see what we are finding and others are on day trips to the city. Shortness of time and the Covid-19 pandemic stopped us from running an open afternoon but we had a visit from the local primary school who were full of enthusiastic questions and very excited to see the dig. One little girl went home telling her mum how she had met some ‘real live archaeologists’, her mum did not believe so her daughter brought her along to see for herself!

Whilst it was only for two weeks we had a good season of work that helped us all – students, staff, visitors to Chester and residents young and old – to learn more about archaeology and Chester’s past despite the limitations imposed by Covid-19.

The training dig is a partnership project between the archaeologists from Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cultural Service (Grosvenor Museum) and the University of Chester and is an essential part of the students’ archaeology degree course.


Every year archaeologists from Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cultural Service (Grosvenor Museum) and the University of Chester run a training dig for the University’s second year archaeology students. The dig takes place in Grosvenor Park in Chester. The Park was chosen because it sits next to two significant historical monuments, the Roman amphitheatre and the medieval Church of St John the Baptist. Both of these have had an influence on the development of the Park and, more importantly, on the intriguing archaeology that lies beneath.

The excavation reached its conclusion for this year on October 2nd and the image in this article shows the full extent of the discoveries made as of 30 September, 2020:

• The most obvious features are the series of land drains (1) running across the trench top to bottom which we think were laid when the Park was set out in 1865-66.
• The raised area on the far right (2) is a trench extension from this year which shows a layer of demolition rubble (mainly fragments of brick, floor tile and wall/ceiling plaster) which relates to the demolition of Cholmondeley’s house during the Parliamentarian siege of the city towards the end of the Civil War. We have recovered lead shot, gunpowder flask caps and a possible musket rest from this layer.
• The raised area at the top (3) is another trench extension from this year which shows a dark charcoal rich layer which was exposed after the removal of the Civil War demolition material. This layer has produced material mainly dating to the 16th century.
• Towards the left running top to bottom, there is a more subtle linear feature (4) emerging which consists of a band of sandstone rubble bonded in clay. This represents the top of the surviving boundary wall to the medieval precinct of St John’s. It can be seen extending into the top trench extension where an in situ stone block can be seen against the trench edge.
• To the left of the remains of the boundary wall are the fills of a late medieval boundary ditch (5) which are yet to be excavated.
• The irregular shaped pit against the bottom trench edge is the result of stone robbing from an underlying sandstone structure which we think might be part of a medieval oven. The other part of which we previously found in trench IV.

To all the visitors to the this year’s training excavation we say thank you and we hope you enjoyed your time with us and learnt a little more about this previously little known corner of Chester. For those who could not make it this year do not worry we shall be back next year so we hope to see you then.

The training dig is a partnership project between the archaeologists from Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cultural Service (Grosvenor Museum) and the University of Chester and is an essential part of the students’ archaeology degree course.

Acknowledgement: Drone Photograph: Mike Johnson 2020