Bounty of Bovril bottles unearthed by Salford University archaeologists on historic Hulme Barracks excavation

By James Metcalf

Archaeologists excavating the home of a British Army cavalry responsible for the 1819 Peterloo massacre were shocked to uncover several bottles of British beef beverage Bovril from the historic Hulme site.

Hulme Barracks was excavated as part of the Dig Greater Manchester Project by the University of Salford and senior archaeologist Brian Grimsditch uncovered several individual Bovril bottles.

These ‘quirky finds’ were a surprise discovery yet Mr Grimsditch says they will ‘help fill in the blanks’ and allow archaeologists to ‘really see how people lived’.

Farfetched as it may seem, Hulme Barracks is not an unlikely location for the historic beef beverage.

Bovril was invented in 1871 as a rich drink that was high in protein by John Lawson Johnston.

Initially intended as a fortifying supplement for the French Army, it eventually spread throughout the world, including Britain, where it was sold even in pubs.

However the bottles at Hulme Barracks were intended for the armed forces, as explained by Mr Grimsditch who stated: “What we found were individual one ounce bottles which we could link with military rations.”

This discovery comes at a particularly pertinent time, as Hulme Barracks was home to the 15th King’s Hussars who were sent to disperse reform campaigners gathered at St Peter’s Field in Manchester, these men were immortalised in Percy Bysshe Shelley’s The Masque of Anarchy.

This poem castigated the 15th King’s Hussars, and was performed recently at the Manchester International Festival by Lancashire actress Maxine Peake.

Dig Greater Manchester will be carrying out excavations throughout Greater Manchester over the next year and half.

Focusing next on Buile Hill Park in Salford, the University of Salford will be holding an open day displaying their finds on Saturday October 12.

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