Shannon's Mill, Walsall. A Programme of Archaeological Investigations

Birmingham Archaeology, 2017

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Shannon's Mill, Walsall. A Programme of Archaeological Investigations

On May 26th 2006 an archaeological watching brief was undertaken of inspection trenches dug along the line of a proposed relief road in Walsall town centre which is part of the Shannon's Mill Redevelopment Scheme (NGR SP 0169 9836). The watching brief, which was carried out on behalf of Norton and Proffitt Developments Limited, recorded three trenches that had been cut to examine existing services close to 'The Ditch' in Zone I of the overall development area. Several truncated Victorian brick-built cellars were recorded which were seen to seal earlier archaeological deposits of 18th or 19th century date. No earlier deposits were observed although their presence is possible, as the natural ground surface was not contacted. A sherd of later medieval green-glazed pottery was recovered from a levelling deposit sealing the remains of the cellars, which may point to earlier occupation in this area. The houses belonging to the Victorian cellars appear to have been terraced into the hillside that rises up to the church on top of the hill. As in some places their walls were found just beneath the topsoil, whereas in other places they were buried under a metre of levelling material. The watching brief provided only a small-scale window into the buried deposits, and there remains the potential for surviving archaeological deposits to be located as 'islands' between areas of later disturbance.

In 2007, a programme of archaeological work that included documentary research, watching brief and open excavation ahead of a major redevelopment scheme in the historic centre of Walsall, adjacent to Shannon's Mill, was commissioned by DBK Back on behalf of Norton and Proffitt Developments Ltd. The results of the excavation and watching brief identified an area of historic Walsall, occupied and reoccupied over the post-medieval period with dramatic changes in use, character and fortune, mirrored and enhanced by the documentary evidence collected. The hill itself was determined to comprise layers and deposits relating to limestone quarry backfill, tentatively dated to the 17th century. Pits were identified cutting these layers, indicative of industrial activity as the quarrying occurred. After the quarrying had ceased, the area was given over to settlement, in the first instance with large affluent houses along the Upper Rushall Street frontage, and in the mid to late 19th century with smaller slum houses crowded in behind these on the hill slopes. These latter properties were demolished in the 1930s.