For my winter seasonal archaeology blog I’ve chosen to write about the archaeology of Trafford in 12 objects. Each day of Christmas there will be a new post that takes us chronologically from the Neolithic to the 20th century. As ever, this is a personal choice, but I’ve tried to reflect the different landscape forms of the area as well as the large amount of archaeological work that has been undertaken since the 1980s. Inevitably, the objects reflect where archaeological research has been at its most intensive such as in Altrincham, Timperley and Warburton.
For those who are unfamiliar with the area, the borough of Trafford, created in 1974, is a cross section across two river valleys in the middle of the Mersey Basin in North West England. The northern and western edges of the brough is formed by the River Irwell, whilst the River Mersey runs across the middle of the area from east to west, meeting the Irwell at Flixton. The south edge of the brough is formed by the Bollin and its wide valley.
This is a low-lying area, the flood plain of the River Mersey being just 11m above sea level around Warburton. The highest bit of the borough is the summit of Bowdon Hill, which rises 62m above the Bollin. An east-east ridge runs along the northern side of the Bollin Valley from Warburton to Ringway in the east and further ridges run along the southern and northern sides of the Mersey Valley from Carrington and Flixton, to Sale and Stretford.
Before agricultural improvement in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the largescale urbanisation of much of the borough in the 20th century, the area was known for its lowland mosses. This patchwork landscape cut by rivers and streams is reflected in the wetland and clearance placenames of the borough from Moss Brow to Old Trafford. This, then, is the landscape within which people have settled and lived for roughly 5000 years.