Manchester through the ages: Discarded treasures unearthed from four-year dig at Whitworth Park exhibited

Manchester Museum is set to take a trip through the ages by displaying some of the items which have been discarded over the years at Whitworth Park, following a four-year dig.

Whitworth Park: Pleasure, Play and Politics, will focus on how it has changed over the years, and has been supported £39,700 Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

The exhibition will focus on social history about the park, which is based on Oxford Road, on the edge of Moss Side and Manchester. 

The Whitworth Park Community and Archaeology and History Project, which has been burrowing away at the park for four years, and will finally be displaying the fruits of their labour.

Some of these include glass bottles, broken ceramics, coins, keys and buttons from the friends of Whitworth Park group and other various community groups.

PRESERVED: This Toy Soldier was found after more than 100 years buried


Ahead of the launch, Tim Manley of Manchester Museum told MM: “It’s been four years as a project overall and has been run by the Archaeology department at the University of Manchester.

“The people that are involved can find out what took it apart. It helps them more to have an appreciation of the history of the park.

STICK EM UP: Various children’s toys were found in the dig

“For example, we found toy soldiers during the dig from 100 years ago and we can see how sad it must have been for the children when they lost their toys that long ago.

“In general today, there is more of a connection with Whitworth Park and the Art Gallery but we are now putting more art in that particular area.”

Sian Jones, Professor of Archaeology at The University of Manchester and Co-Director of the Whitworth Park Project, said that Parks offer an important insight into people’s sense of identity, belonging and place.

She said: “Historical sources provide information on the development of public parks and the ideas behind them – but there’s little record of what ordinary people got up to in parks and this is why this project is so unique.

“One person’s rubbish is another person’s treasure: something dropped by the edge of the lake over a hundred years ago gives archaeologists a huge amount of important, and often forgotten, detail about what life was like in those times.

“By investigating the archaeology 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.”

UNEARTHED: The professor displays an old coin that was found at the dig

Speaking on behalf of the project, Dr Nick Merriman, Director of Manchester Museum said archaeology has the power to play an important role in the way we view the world.

“Through this project we’ve engaged with local community groups, students and academics to explore the history of the park,” he said.

“The exhibition provides an insight into some of the ways the park has been used and valued, many of them only revealed by fieldwork.”

A private viewing will open on May 21 with the exhibition opening to the public from May 24 to October 5, 2014. Entry will be free.

Images courtesy of Manchester Museum, with thanks.

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