The £250 million Stafford Area Improvements Programme plan is to separate slow and fast moving trains by building a new section of track to take Stone and Manchester bound traffic over, rather than across, the West Coast Main Line. Works, which started in Spring 2014, include:
- Over six miles of new 100mph railway
- A new flyover, removing a key bottleneck at Norton Bridge Junction and separating intercity, commuter and freight traffic
- 10 new bridges and one bridge enhancement
- A major realignment of the B5026 highway
- Road, river and footpath diversions
- The diversion of two high pressure gas pipelines by National Grid
|Another Staffordshire field obliterated at Norton Bridge|
The major excavation works have so far revealed a number of archaeological finds made in a section of waterlogged peat close to Meece Road. A number of Victorian stoneware bottles bearing the names of breweries from Bristol to Manchester have also been unearthed, probably left by the navigational engineers who built the line in the 1830s.
Evidence of prehistoric activity was uncovered at the same area which included worked wooden stakes and wood chips and a butter churn lid that was initially believed to have been from the same period. There have so far been no associated finds of pottery or metalwork to provide any clues to the date of the wooden finds.
|The butter churn lid|
However, in this week's Staffordshire Newsletter the results of the radiocarbon testing have been released with the butter churn lid now dated to between 715-890 AD, the same period as the Staffordshire Hoard. Existing archaeological knowledge of this period for this area of the Midlands, the heart of Mercia, is scarce and Saxon period finds of organic materials such as wood are very rare indeed.
An information day will be held in June when visitors will be able to view some of the objects. Dr Tetlow is also preparing a paper on the finds for the Stafford and Mid-Staffs Archaeological Society.
Archaeological find at Norton Bridge turns out to be from Saxon period - Staffordshire Newsletter 21 May 2015
* * *