Youngsters get digging with Manchester archaeologists in search for secrets under Whitworth Park

By Naomi Powell

Schoolchildren are helping University of Manchester archaeologists uncover the wealth of hidden history in Whitworth Park throughout this month.

The archaeological dig, Dig Your Park, is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and will explore the Victorian and Edwardian history buried beneath the park throughout July.

Local schoolchildren will join the university’s top archaeologists, students and community volunteers in workshops until July 12.

The highlight of the project is the Manchester Museum’s ‘Big Saturday’ event on Saturday, July 13, where all children can experience digging for themselves.

Project leader Professor Siân Jones, who specialises in community archaeology, said: “By investigating the history of Whitworth Park, we aim to increase everyone’s awareness of the value of these wonderful green spaces in the heart of the city, and encourage people to become more involved in their future.”

The park opened in 1890, and quickly became a popular place for local families, as well as staff and patients from the nearby hospitals.

Whitworth Park has also provided a space to memorialise the war dead and acted as a venue for political marches and civil rights rallies right up to the present day.

Key finds so far during the dig include a medallion celebrating the coronation of Edward VII in 1902 and a clay pipe bowl thought to commemorate the 17th Lancers Regiment, which took part in the Charge of the Light Brigade.

Other, more commonplace items, such as bottles, plates and jewellery help to show the changing lifestyles of Mancunians through the years, all the way back to the mid-1800s.

An open day is also being held in the park this Saturday, July 6, from 11am until 3pm. The day will involve nature activities and tours of the ‘Dig Your Park’ project area.

Sara Hilton, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North West, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this excavation project that is giving local people the chance to quite literally uncover the history of Whitworth Park, which has been at the heart of the community for more than 120 years.

“We are looking forward to seeing what is discovered and urge everyone to take part!”

Picture courtesy of lucyb_22, with thanks.

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