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Greater Manchester Archaeology Federation

The Greater Manchester Archaeology Federation comprises 17 local archaeology societies, working in partnership with the Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit, Manchester Museum and Salford University Centre for Applied Archaeology.

The remit of this loosely affiliated body is as follows:

  • To promote Archaeology in Greater Manchester
  • To help societies with sustainability
  • Sharing of skills, speaker lists and equipment
  • Production of the Greater Manchester Archaeological Journal
  • Production of a quarterly e-newsletter
  • Annual Conference/Archaeology Day to be hosted by GMAU


Greater Manchester Federation Newsletters

The Federation was formed in 2009 and grew out of a number of successful community archaeology projects that had taken place across Greater Manchester in previous years, which included the formation of new archaeology groups. Such projects including the national award winning Mellor Heritage and Royton Lives through the Ages projects, as well as the high profile Dig Manchester project. There was an enthusiasm amongst local archaeology groups to interact more and share sites, experience, knowledge, and equipment etc. The Manchester University archaeology units already had extensive experience of undertaking community archaeology projects and, when the Field Unit was closed down in 2009, several of these staff transferred to Salford University which then became a partner in the Federation. Manchester Museum kindly agreed to provide a room for the meetings and was able to use Federation members in consultation exercises for new galleries and policies. The Museum also runs a Young Archaeologists Club, which provides further synergy with the Federation.

But it was the staff of the Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit (GMAU) who suggested setting up the Federation and who offered to facilitate it. GMAU is a member of ALGAO and act as the archaeological planning advisers and curators for the ten Greater Manchester authorities. In supporting the Federation, GMAU are able to disseminate updates on Greater Manchester’s archaeology, offer advice on the choice of sites for investigation and appropriate methodology, and encourage the societies to report on their work so that the Historic Environment Record can be updated. GMAU act as secretary to the group, help to chair meetings, and produce the periodic newsletter for the benefit of members. Meetings of society representatives are held every quarter. Through the newsletter, individual societies can report upon their projects while GMAU report back on developer funded work in the various districts. It has also allowed key national developments, such as PPS5, to be discussed in some detail. GMAU organised an inaugural one day Archaeology Day in February 2010 which attracted over 120 people, mainly from the Federation Societies. Academics and professional archaeologists talked about their projects in the morning, whilst the afternoon session focused on the work of the local societies.

Work done and results

Greater Manchester Archaeological Federation Newsletter

The work of the societies provides a crucial balance to the ‘skewed’ distribution of commercial archaeology, as it often takes places in area of green belt or public space where development is not permitted. This allows for a more rounded understanding of the archaeological resource and research agendas across Greater Manchester. Furthermore, Federation members provide a pool of experienced volunteer archaeologists who help raise standards on society excavations and surveys. Salford University are currently leading the Dig Greater Manchester project which will deliver community archaeology excavations to all ten GM authorities plus Blackburn with Darwen. Federation members are very much part of this project and their knowledge and experience will be a welcome addition to the site investigations.

The Federation has grown in size since its inception and has included societies that are just outside Greater Manchester. The loose nature of the constitution (there is no subscription fee nor committee) is well suited to the aims of the group. It is a model that appears to work and which could be replicated elsewhere.

Members of the Greater Manchester Archaeology Federation

  • Greater Manchester Archaeology Unit
  • Salford University Centre for Applied Archaeology
  • Manchester Museum
  • Bolton Archaeology and Egyptology Society
  • Bury Archaeological Group
  • Darwen Local History Society
  • Glossop and Longdendale Archaeological Society
  • Holcombe Moor Heritage Group
  • Littleborough Historical and Archaeological Society
  • Manchester Region Industrial Archaeology Society
  • Mellor Archaeological Trust
  • Middleton Archaeology Society
  • Moston Archaeology Society
  • Prestwich Heritage Society
  • Royton Lives Through the Ages
  • Saddleworth Archaeological Trust
  • South Manchester Archaeological Research Team
  • South Trafford Archaeological Group
  • Tameside Archaeological Society
  • Wigan Archaeological Society

Further information

PDF versions of newsletters available from the GMAU website.

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