An Archaeology of Trafford in 12 Objects Part 3: Iron Age Quern Stone from Warburton

The third item in our festive look at the archaeology and history of Trafford in 12 objects, is another stone artefact: a large grinding stone found in Warburton in the 1990s. Made from gritstone and roughly conical in shape with a smooth under side, it weighs around 2.6kg and is 290mm wide and stands 130mm high. It has a holed through the centre and a horizontal slot on one side for a bone or wooden handle, and originally would have had a companion stone in which the base would have sat.

Such grinding stones were used for processing grain by hand and were introduced around 300 BC, although examples run into the Romano-British period. The nearest manufacture centre to Warburton is in northern Derbyshire, which is possibly where this stone originated. The example from Moss Brow is one of two such stone found in the fields west of Onion Farm and south of Moss Brow. Together they represent the first evidence for permanent settlement in the area.

Such early farming activity is supported by pollen from the period found in the peats of the former Warburton moss to the north of Moss Brow. Furthermore, excavations along the sand and gravel ridge to south of Moss Brow Farm in 2006 and north of Warburton in Partington in 2018 have both revealed the presence of late prehistoric or Roman fields. Whist the ancient fields around Moss Brow probably indicate where the grain used in the quern was grown, so far the homes of these first farmers have yet to be located.

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