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Clues to Chester's history uncovered in excavation; Elephant bone found in archaeological dig.


A FASCINATING exhibition of artefacts dating back 500 years are being put on display in Chester's Grovesnor Museum.

The treasure trove of items - including pottery, wine bottles, lead crystal glass and even an ornamental elephant bone - were all uncovered in 2002during a development to extend the city's branch of Debenhams, in Eastgate Street.

The finds allowed Cheshire West and Chester Council's historic environment team to build a detailed picture of Chester's development as a properous trading centre.

They also gave a rare insight into the everyday lives of the people who lived and worked in the historic city.

Much of the material was used to fill disused cesspits behind the buildings fronting onto Bridge Street.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the area was occupied by some of the city's wealthy families and archaelogists think the majority of the finds once belonged to the succesful Anderton family.

Matthew Anderton, the head of the household, was Mayor of Chester in 1703 and it is believed the pit was filled in the early 18th century, when the house was cleared after he died in 1709. The council's community archaeologist, Jane Hebblewhite, said: "Effectively these finds were people's unwanted household items, but to us they are invaluable.

"The Andertons were an important Chester family with trade links to Ireland and the fact we uncovered items like lead crystal wine glasses and 35 wine bottles shows how successful they were.

"It is similar to a historian of the future finding our modern-day Ikea or Habitat furniture."

The elephant's forelimb was already 100 years old when it was discarded, but it may well have been a prized ornament picked up by the Andertons on a foreign trip.

All the finds feature in a new book to accompany the exhibition called Excavations At Chester.

The display can be seen in the Grosvenor Museum's Newstead Gallery until October 18.


Chinese porcelain cup from around 1700 found in the city Cologne salt-glazed mug from around 1500-1550 found in a stone-lined cesspit in Chester The artefacts are on display at the Newstead Gallery in the Grosvenor Museum
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 27, 2009
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