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Happy birthday Merseyside Archaeological Society!

15 September 2016 by Liz

South Castle Street excavation

South Castle Street excavation, 1976

Merseyside Archaeological Society (MAS) celebrates its 40th anniversary this year!

In the winter of 1975-1976 local archaeologists, both professional and voluntary, began to feel that the new county of Merseyside (founded in 1974) should be represented by its own archaeological society.

There seemed to be a threat to buried archaeology from development, and lots of people keen to preserve the past, and learn more about it. Founder member of MAS, Diana Morgan, recalled that, in 1976, at a site in Halewood, “a party of voluntary diggers … arrived more or less in the wake of the bulldozers”. “It was directly after Halewood that a meeting was held on 25th March 1976 at which Merseyside Archaeological Society was launched”.

Over the coming years and decades Merseyside Archaeological Society would be involved in recording and excavating numerous sites. The first excavation undertaken by the Society was at South Castle Street, adjacent to the site of Liverpool’s medieval castle. Before the Crown Court was built the archaeological excavation revealed the remains from the 17th and 18th century market in that area. Finds from this site feature in the History Detectives gallery in the Museum of Liverpool.

Excavations underway at Rainford Library

Excavations at Rainford Library, 2013

Further excavations, building recording, graveyard surveys and landscape surveys have kept members involved in fieldwork throughout the years. An active facebook group now enables people to keep in touch with what’s going on in the region. Between 2011 and 2014 MAS ran its largest project yet, Rainford’s Roots. This project undertook five excavations around the village of Rainford, near St Helens, which explored the potting and clay tobacco pipe-making industries in the C16th-C19th centuries. Some of the finds from these excavations will be on display in the Museum of Liverpool until 19th September.

The Society is still going strong, and is active in research, education, and campaigning for the investigation or preservation of important archaeological sites in Merseyside. On 8th and 9th October, the Museum of Liverpool will be hosting the Society’s anniversary conference, which will consider the last forty years and look forward to the ways in which the society can continue to have an important role for the archaeology of the region. Book online for the conference to learn more about the archaeology of the region!

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