Reddish Vale Country Park
In autumn 2004, Adam Thompson, a field archaeologist at the University of Manchester Archaeological Unit opened up two trenches at Strines Cottages.
Trench C, which ran east to west, was without archaeological features. This was designed as a training trench for schools and contained a quantity of sherds of 19th and 20th century pottery as well as stones snd brick rubble. It is connected with the cottages that once housed the workers at the Printworks.
Trench D was excavated on the public drop-in day and was further investigated by the professional archaeologists after the community excavation had finished.
The features of the original buildings were found near to the surface, the shallowest being only 20cm below the present ground level. They included cobbles, the floors of rooms and the walls of the buildings.
The approach to the cottages included a large stone doorstep and cobbled footpaths. The doorstep was surrounded by cobbles that had been set on edge. There was a cobbled yard outside the wall with a gap filled with loamy soil that may have been a flower bed.
The largest feature uncovered was room 1 which measured 5.42m x 3.95m. The walls were still standing up to 0.29m above the floor level. Part of a fireplace was also found. Within the area were cinders and sherds of 19th century pottery.
Within the wall there were a number stone blocks and part of the wall, which was made of bricks laid in a different way, may have filled in an earlier entrance into farm buildings before the print workers' cottages were there. This and the stone blocks may belong to the time when Strines was a farmhouse belonging to the Oldham family.
Room 2 was 5.42m long and only 1.90m wide. It was not possible to excavate rooms 3 and 4 fully.
So what do all these features mean? There are at least 4 separate rooms and these correspond to the rooms shown on the tithe map of 1842 and the other Ordnance Survey maps.
Rooms 1,3 and 4 were the ground floor of three separate workers' cottages and room 2 has been interpreted as a common entrance to rooms 1 and 3. Cottage 4 was not found; this may lie to the north of trench D towards the river and may have been destroyed by landslides.
The stone blocks in the walls of room 1 may be part of an earlier timber-framed building. They may have been the bases for the upright timbers that formed the framework for the Oldham family's house.
The cobbles represent external surfaces and may have provided the paths and yards that led to the barn and stables.
Children from four primary schools and one secondary school in the Brinnington area visited the site and took part in the excavation. They were trained to work as archaeologists under the expert eye of Adam Thompson and Laura Broughton of the University of Manchester Archaeological Unit.