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CORPORATION STABLE YARD,SMITHDOWN LANE, LIVERPOOL Archaeological Watching Brief and Excavation Report

Vannan, Alastair (2012) CORPORATION STABLE YARD,SMITHDOWN LANE, LIVERPOOL Archaeological Watching Brief and Excavation Report. [Client Report] (Unpublished)

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In Spring 2011, Oxford Archaeology North (OA North) was commissioned by Robert Hodgson (RA Fisk Associates) to undertake a programme of excavation and watching brief on the site of a redundant stable yard on Smithdown Lane, Liverpool (centred on NGR 336340 390140) in advance of the construction of university accommodation. Liverpool, particularly the area around the stable yard, is famed for its association with Williamson’s Tunnels, a network of post-medieval tunnels constructed within excavated quarry
seams, that extend for an undetermined distance around the Edge Hill area. The tunnels are historically significant as a unique engineering work undertaken as a philanthropic venture by snuff and tobacco merchant, Joseph Williamson (1769 - 1840). A large amount of evidence for the tunnels survives and a section of this network has been preserved as a popular Heritage Centre, also on Smithdown Lane. The tunnels have been partially mapped and excavated as
part of an ongoing research agenda, although their full extent is still unknown. An earlier phase of watching brief during geotechnical investigations and a geophysical survey
had established that there was potential for tunnels in this area, so it was agreed with the Merseyside Archaeologist that a programme of watching brief and excavation be undertaken in the course of ground works for the development, in accordance with a project design. During
the watching brief, several brick tunnels were discovered, and these were subject to detailed excavation during January and February 2011. Four areas were subject to watching brief or excavation and tunnels were identified within Areas A, B and D. Six tunnels were identified, or which five were previously unknown Williamson structures. All of the tunnels exhibited potentially unique features, including the form and material used in the vaulted ceilings, the combination and ratio of brick and sandstone, and also the junctions/interface between the newly discovered tunnels.
Area A was investigated as a large open area excavation and yielded the largest number of tunnels and associated features of archaeological interest. Tunnels 1, 2 and 3, as well as a wellconstructed roadway, were identified within this area. The remains of the foundations for the western block of the former stable yard were also exposed and recorded, although these postdate all activity associated with Joseph Williamson, and have been well recorded by historic maps and by the City Engineers.
Area B was excavated in order to provide a mitigative record of Tunnels 4 and 5. Tunnel 4 had previously been identified and partially excavated by the Joseph Williamson Society; however, the present phase of construction work afforded an opportunity to mechanically excavate debris from within this area prior to backfilling and capping of the main tunnel. Tunnel 5 was previously unknown and was identified and recorded during this phase of work. Area C did not contain any evidence for tunnels; however, bedrock was not reached in this area so it was not possible to confirm if tunnels exist at a deeper level. Within the south-eastern
corner of Area C, a quarter circle of brickwork was exposed within the construction trenching for a crane base.
Area D was excavated to allow construction of footings for a large, light-weight bicycle storage facility. This shallow rectangular area provided limited evidence of a cutting of the bedrock on a north-east/south-west orientation, and it is probable that this was a cut for a further tunnel.

Item Type: Client Report
Subjects: Geographical Areas > English Counties > Merseyside
Period > UK Periods > Post Medieval 1540 - 1901 AD
Divisions: Oxford Archaeology North
Depositing User: barker
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2022 08:19
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 08:19
URI: http://eprints.oxfordarchaeology.com/id/eprint/6614

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