About the Group

North Worcestershire Archaeology Group (Northwag) was formed in September, 2009; its membership being drawn from Shrawley and District Local History Society and individuals within the local community who had become increasingly interested in the various excavations and historical research the Society had undertaken. The Society was successful in obtaining a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to examine the site of a medieval castle at Oliver’s Mound, Shrawley which had been excavated in the 1930’s.

One requirement of the lottery grant was the provision of two training days designed to inform interested members of the local community about relevant archaeological techniques to enable their future participation in research. Extensive works on the banks of Dick Brook, Astley, were chosen as the site on which to carry out the training which was well attended; these highly successful days led to the formation of Northwag.

The main aim of the Group is to advance local knowledge of the history of North Worcestershire and to complete archaeological reports suitable for submission to the Sites and Monuments Record at Worcester Archaeological Service.

Surveying at St Michael and All Saints church, Little Witley, Worcestershire, © Copyright North Worcestershire Archaeology Group

Surveying at St Michael and All Saints church, Little Witley, Worcestershire

The Puddling Forge & Mill Site, Astley, Worcestershire

After the training days, a core of enthusiasts cleared the site of undergrowth to enable accurate measuring and recording - we revealed a site of outstanding importance to the birth of the industrial revolution in North Worcestershire.

The Forge Mill is situated about half a mile along a tributary of the River Severn on the north bank of Dick Brook, approximately twelve miles north of Worcester. In the late 1650s, Dick Brook had been canalised by Andrew Yarranton, the forefather of the canal system.

The site had been excavated three times before, in 1929, 1973, and 1982; reports from these digs were either lost or scant in content - only one sketch plan and a section of wall from 1929, and two photographs from the 1973 excavation remained in the public archive. The aims and objectives of the study we undertook were not necessarily to excavate new ground but to open up that which had previously been uncovered, record what we found and place our findings on the public record. However, we felt this was a wonderful opportunity to build upon knowledge of the site and inevitably traversed new ground, with the consent of the landowners of course! The Group had already gathered a wealth of information from a variety of sources, but there was much more we had still to learn so we trawled the Record Offices and spoke to anyone who had further information to add to our knowledge pool of the site. We have now gone beyond the bounds of what was previously known, enhancing our understanding and appreciation of the site and its workings.

Twelve trenches were opened, photographed, measured and recorded; finds, such as they were, being a disappointment as after the ’73 dig, hundreds of tons of factory waste were dumped on site to create a roadway for forestry vehicles. This contamination caused us a great deal of fun trying to decipher what was contemporary to site and what was not. Furthermore, much of the site was demolished soon after it fell into disuse around 1811, adding to the confusion.

The site and its features are now preserved against the ravages of the weather and the brook. We intend to install an exhibition board to tell the story of the site for the interest of passers-by. This will lead on to 'Talks and Walks', exhibitions and possibly, if finances allow, a published book.

Clearing ivy before survey and recording at Winnall Mill, North Worcestershire, © Copyright North Worcestershire Archaeology Group

Clearing ivy before survey and recording at Winnall Mill, North Worcestershire

We welcome membership from anyone with an interest in archaeology and the historic environment, regardless of experience.

Please visit www.northwag.org for information on our current and past activities and joining instructions.

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