Welcome to the blog pages of the Greater Manchester Archaeology Federation, the Greater Manchester Archaeology Day, and the Greater Manchester Archaeology Festival. The Greater Manchester Archaeological Federation (GMAF) was founded in 2008. The Federation is a loose grouping of voluntary archaeology societies and groups, supported by several museums and universities, in the Manchester city region. The aim is to widen access to the archaeology of Greater Manchester.
In the 1980s and 1990s an annual archaeology day was held by the Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit. This was revived in 2011 as the Greater Manchester Archaeology Day (GMAD) and since then has become a key fixture in the archaeology calendar of the region and an important opportunity to meet and talk with academics, professionals and volunteers involved in uncovering the region’s rich past.
In 2017 the Federation expanded these engagement events with the first Greater Manchester Archaeology Festival (GMAF), in June, with further festival events following in June 2018 and June 2019. 2020 is slightly deferent due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the festival and archaeology day have been put online. Both GMAD and GMAF are organized by the Greater Manchester Archaeology Federation in conjunction with the Centre for Applied Archaeology at the University Salford.
The Greater Manchester Archaeology Day and the Greater Manchester Archaeology Festival aim to increase access, encourage the exploration, and celebrate the archaeology of Greater Manchester. Our blog pages provide a range of resources for those interested in getting involved in exploring Greater Manchester’s archaeology. We regularly add to our content so please click back to keep up to date.
You can also follow the activities of our Federation members, the Greater Manchester Archaeology Day, and the Greater Manchester Archaeology Festival on twitter:  @GMAFGMarchaeol1
 GMAF Logo Colour

Greater Manchester Archaeology Day 2022

The first in-person Greater Manchester Archaeology Day since 2019 will be held on Saturday 26th November 2022. Doors at the Peel Hall, University of Salford, will open for registration at 09:30 ready for a start at 09:55. There will be a packed programme of lectures on a range of topics spanning the prehistoric periods to the 20th century, showcasing some of the remarkable archaeology that has been uncovered during the past 12 months or so. Tickets will cost £10 (standard) / £5 (student / unwaged) and can be booked online by following this link:


Greater Manchester Archaeology Day and 2021 Newsletter

Sadly, we have not been able to hold the Archaeology Day this year and will endeavour to get it up and running again in 2022. However, the GM Archaeology Federation newsletter for 2021 has just been published and appears under the ‘Newsletter’ section. This will give you a flavour of some of the fascinating archaeological projects that have been carried out by local groups and professional archaeologists over the last year.

An update on the Greater Manchester Archaeological Advisory Service

This year saw GMAAS win a six year contract with AGMA/GMCA to deliver the archaeology service until the end of March 2026, with a possible further six year extension. There were major staff changes, with Dr Andrew Myers retiring at the end of 2020 and Norman Redhead retiring at the end of February 2021. GMAAS is now staffed by:

Ian Miller – Lead Archaeologist

Ben Dyson – Senior Planning Archaeologist

Lesley Dunkley – Historic Environment Record Office

Further details can be found on the new GMAAS website: https://gmaas.salford.ac.uk/

Dig Greater Manchester Online Festival Part 3 – the Podcasts

Welcome to the third and final part of our online Dig Greater Manchester Archaeology Festival for 2020. Over three days (12 to 14 December) we have been posting new material on the GMAF website for you to explore. On day one we added nine pdfs from the Greater Manchester’s Past Revealed book series for you to download. We also added a clutch of archaeology information boards from sites around the county. On day two we added three video talks on mobile phone heritage, excavations around the Bridgewater Canal in Worsley, and a roundup of archaeological work across Greater Manchester in 2020.

On the final day of our GMAF Online festival we are making available, free to download, a short series of podcasts. These podcasts have been put together by a small team led by Dr Mike Nevell from the newly established Archaeotea Podcasts (Welcome to the Archaeotea Podcast by Archaeotea | Free Listening on SoundCloud)

Mike and his Archaeotea Podcast team have recorded three episodes specifically for GMAF Online 2020. In the first podcast he looks at the excavation of Hulme Barracks in Manchester, a site associated with the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. Founded in the 1790s and closed in 1915, by the mid-19th century it was the largest such barracks in the UK. It’s best known, though, as the barracks from which the cavalry rode out on that fateful morning in August 1819 to police the peaceful protest at Petersfield in Manchester. The site was excavated as part of the Dig Greater Manchester Community project in 2013.

1. Digging up the Hulme Barracks and the Peterloo Massacre by Archaeotea | Free Listening on SoundCloud

In the second episode the subject is the long-running investigations at Buckton Castle, Tameside, a hilltop fortress of the 12th and 13th centuries overlooking the River Tame c. 10km eats of Manchester. It was surveyed and excavated between 1996 and 2010 by archaeologists from the Universities of Manchester and Salford. What they found was the remains of an unfinished stone castle, almost certainly built for the Earls of Chester.

2 – Buckton Castle Mysteries by Archaeotea | Free Listening on SoundCloud

In the third episode Mike looks at the founding of the Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit (GMAU) in 1980. GMAU was the forerunner of the present-day Greater Manchester Archaeological Advisory Service who advise the ten local authorities in the Manchester city region on archaeology impacted by the planning process. GMAU was responsible for pioneering archaeological work across Greater Manchester throughout the 1980s, conserving the Roman forts at Castleshaw and conducting the first excavation of a late prehistoric and Romano-British rural settlement in the county, at Great Woolden in Salford.

The Founding of GMAU by Archaeotea | Free Listening on SoundCloud

GMAU was the first professional archaeology unit in Greater Manchester and their legacy includes the precursors of both the Greater Manchester Archaeology Federation and the Greater Manchester Archaeology Day. Which is a good point at which to close this year’s archaeology festival.

We hope to see many of you in person in 2021. Until then, dig safely.

Dig Greater Manchester Online Festival 2020 – Part 2 : Video Talks

Excavations at Mayfield Station, Manchester, by Salford Archaeology in 2020. Image courtesy of Salford Archaeology.

Welcome to the Greater Manchester Archaeology Festival 2020 Online! We are continuing to upload material across the weekend (talks, podcasts, and books) so please do click back regularly over the next few days. Our second digital offering is a set of three video talks.

This year’s keynote talk is given by Professor Nigel Linge from the University of Salford. Nigel reviews the industrial archaeology of the smart phone. A product of the 21st century, the smart phone with its camera has radically changed our personal and working lives since the first version was launched in 2003. The personal aspect of this technology has been particularly prominent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic leading to national lockdowns and periods of individual isolation.

Norman Redhead provides his usual annual round-up of archaeological fieldwork and research across Greater Manchester in 2020. Despite the pandemic, professional archaeology work has continued since the building sector remained active throughout the various lockdowns. 2020 proved to be a very busy year for archaeology with major excavations once more in the centre of Manchester, including Roman archaeology beneath the abandoned railway arches on the eastern side of Deansgate, industrial workers housing on Longmill Gate, and glassworks in Ancoats. Elsewhere, significant excavations were undertaken in Altrincham, Bury, Rochdale, and Stockport. December 2020 also saw the retirement from GMAAS of Dr Andy Myers after 11 years of work in archaeological development control in Greater Manchester. We wish him well.

Finally, Dr Mike Nevell, who left Salford University for a new job at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust in March 2020, looks at conservation and community archaeology work in and around the Bridgewater Canal at Worsley over the last few years. This included the discovery of new tunnels and quays within Worsley Delph itself, one of the most iconic sites of the industrial revolution in Britain. He also reviews the community excavations at the canal and coal mine workshops on Worsley Green undertaken in 2018 and 2019 – a project suspended, like most community work, for 2020.

All these talks can be download for FREE by following the link below:

Greater Manchester Archaeology Festival – YouTube

Welcome to GMAF 2020 Online! Part 1: The Books

GMAF 2020 online – talks, podcasts, and books

Welcome to the Greater Manchester Archaeology Festival 2020 Online! We shall be uploading material across the weekend (talks, podcasts, and books) so please do click back regularly over the next few days. Our first offerings are the latest NINE Greater Manchester’s Past Revealed booklets. These can be download for FREE by following the link below:

Publications « Greater Manchester Archaeology Festival Blog (wordpress.com)

Later today we shall be releasing three video talks on Greater Manchester’s archaeology.

And tomorrow (13 December) we shall be releasing three podcasts looking at the history of archaeological exploration across the Manchester city region since 1980.


GMAF Goes Online for 2020

The times may seem unfamiliar and strange, and we may not be able to meet in person for Greater Manchester Archaeology Day and the Greater Manchester Archaeological Festival. BUT we can all meet online, as many have been doing in 2020 from our homes.

Therefore, we are announcing today that this year’s Greater Manchester Archaeology Day and Greater Manchester Archaeology Festival are combining to bring you the Greater Manchester Archaeology Weekend on the 12th and 13th December. The intention is to have a series of free, online, recorded and live events from across the city region, and encompassing the voluntary, academic, and professional sectors.

2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the publication by the then Department for the Environment of ‘Planning Policy Guide 16: Archaeology and Planning’, the foundation document of the current archaeological profession. But 2020 also marks the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit, the city region’s first professional archaeological unit and forebears of today’s Greater Manchester Archaeological Advisory Unit. The festival weekend will reflect this heritage as well as the current research being undertaken by voluntary, professional, and academic archaeologists across the region with a variety of events and new material released especially for 2020.

We shall be publishing a more detailed programme in early December, but as a foretaste of the weekend we have already started to add new material to our blog site. In the meantime check out the newly added volumes in the ‘Greater Manchester’s Past Revealed’ series and also a new section on the dozens of archaeology information boards to be found across Greater Manchester.

Pastures New for Mike Nevell

Our Head of Centre Dr Mike Nevell is off to pastures new and will be leaving the University of Salford for the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. Mike has assured us that he will remain active in the GM Federation, CBA North West, and as STAG Chair – and who knows perhaps there will be more TV appearances. We wish him well and look forward to him wielding a trowel as a volunteer!

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Mike Nevell (centre), Adam Thompson and Lewis Stitt on site at Wythenshawe

His last day at Salford University is Friday 31st January, although he will retain a link with the university as an Honorary Research Fellow in Archaeology. His university email address will also remain live. As a parting gift his latest book is an archaeology of Manchester in 20 digs – out this spring!


New Free e-books for GMAD 2019

GMPR_cover_vol17Saturday 30th November is Greater Manchester Archaeology Day 2019. To celebrate this, and ten years of archaeology at the University of Salford, we have added to more free e-books to our Greater Manchester Past Revealed Series to download. These are:

Booth Hall and Boggart Hole Clough, GMPR 17 (2016)


Exchange Station, Greengate, Salford, GMPR 18 (2017)


Downloadable copies of our previous 16 volumes can by found on the Publications pages of this blog.

Enjoy the read!

Greater Manchester Archaeology Day 2019


Its that time of year when we bring together all the latest archaeology news and discoveries from around the Manchester city region. Yes, its Greater Manchester Archaeology Day 2019 on Saturday 30th November. Our Brian Grimsditch Memorial lecture thsi year will be given by Dr Mike Heyworth, Executive Director of the Coucnil for British Archaeology. There will also be talks from mesolithic camp sites ot 20th century railway stations. The full programme can be found below at the end of this post.

As usual the venue will be the Peel Hall at the University of a Salford, where you will find lots displays and books to browse, and plenty of archaeology friends to catch up with. There’ll be tea, coffee, juice and biscuits available. Parking is available on campus at the Irwell car park (£4 for the whole day – pay and display and online payment both available).

Booking is now open through our University online shop here (or google search – Salford online shop archaeology day 2019):



Morning session

9.30am Registration and coffee

9.55am Introduction to the day: Dr Mike Nevell, Head of the Centre for Applied Archaeology, University of Salford

10.00am Welcome: Speaker to be confirmed

10.10am The Brian Grimsditch Memorial Lecture:
‘Seventy-five years of archaeology for all: the mission of the Council for British Archaeology’ – Dr Mike Heyworth (Executive Director, Council for British Archaeology)

10.50am Beyond the Pale: a decade of historic building survey and research at Dunham Massey Jamie Lund (Archaeology & Cultural Heritage Adviser, National Trust)

11.20am Comfort Break

11.30am Everything is Connected: the regeneration of a former railway station and the creation of an urban park at Manchester Mayfield
Tony Lee and Ashley Brogan (Salford Archaeology)

12.00am Recent investigations at Castleshaw Roman Fort
Norman Redhead (Greater Manchester Archaeological Advisory Service)

12.30pm Finds from Chapel Wharf, Salford – an urban pottery and glass assemblage
Samantha Rowe & Mandy Burns (Salford Archaeology)

1.00pm Lunch break

Afternoon Session

2.00pm Recent archaeological investigations at Worsley Delph and Green
John Roberts (Salford Archaeology) and Mike Nevell (Head of Centre)

2.30pm Conserving Cowherd’s Congregation at the Beefsteak Chapel: the archaeology of Salford’s Swedenborgian Citadel
Ian Miller (Salford Archaeology)

3.00pm Coffee and comfort break

3.30pm A new Mesolithic site at Windy Hill, Littleborough
Stephen Poole (University of Manchester)

4.00pm Excavating Crown Street: industrial developments on Manchester’s southern fringe
Oliver Cook (Salford Archaeology)

4.30pm Questions and closing remarks
Chaired by Dr Michael Nevell

4.45pm Finish