Archaeologists find unusual 200-year old site: it’s a pub

Yes, this means there’s 200-year-old brandy.

I know this pub, it’s pretty underground

Some of the finds on the building site: From left, a stoneware bottle from J Moorhouse & Co, Hulme; a crockery set bearing the name of the Astley Arms and its first landlord, Thomas Evans; a glass bottle with the logo of a workman’s arm. Credit: Manchester Evening News

If there’s one thing that sums up English history and culture, it’s the pub. It is the quintessential center of social life, the cozy and inescapable mixture of good food, good drinks, and good people. With pubs being popular for centuries in England, it’s no surprise that pub archaeology is a thing.

While investigating the field for a 13-storey skyscraper in Manchester, archaeologists uncovered a hidden pub and the remains of several domiciles. The remains were surprisingly well-preserved and archeologists uncovered bottles of booze and personalized ceramic dishes bearing the landlord’s name.

“A lot of bottles have been found, maybe around 20. And three or four of them are full of brandy,” James Alderson, site developer of Mulbury City which is carrying out the build, told the Manchester Evening News. “We opened the cork on a few and you can still smell it.

Archaeologist Rosie Banens with a full bottle of alcohol found on the site. Credit: Manchester Evening News

The discovery came as a surprise to everyone. While finding archaeological remains in British cities is not that uncommon, finding a pub – and one so well preserved – is a rarity.

“It’s amazing knowing there’s so much history at this site and it’s really exciting,” he added. “I never expected this kind of thing to be found but we are really fascinated by it all.

“Part of Manchester’s vast history is being captured in these findings which is really interesting,” Alderson said. “It really takes you back to the time when they would have been outside of the pub drinking.”

The foundations of an old bank vault and the pub found on the site on the corner of Port Street and Great Ancoats Street. Credit: Manchester Evening News

According to Manchester archives, the pub used to be called the Astley Arms. It was renamed the Paganini Tavern in 1840 before reverting to its original name in the 1850s. It stayed open until 1928. The pub’s owner from the 1840s had several customized items, including a few with his name written on them.

“We found pottery and bottle from the Astley Arms which actually has the name of the proprietor Thomas Evans, and the name of the pub written on it, so it must have been a commissioned piece for the pub,” he said. “It’s brilliant because you can suddenly connect it to the local people in the area. We looked online about his family history and one of his descendants now lives in Texas.”

Two-hundred-year-old pubs are not uncommon in England. There are plenty of pubs, still functioning, which go way beyond the 1800s.

Some of the findings, the best preserved, will be presented at the Museum of Science and Industry. But strangely enough, there was no mention of what’s happening to the brandy they found – one can only guess.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *