Spiekermann Travel



Intact Brandy Bottles and 200-Year-Old Pub Discovered Under Building Site in Manchester

Intact Brandy Bottles and 200-Year-Old Pub Discovered Under Building Site in Manchester


An unexpected discovery was made when works began for a 13-storey skyscraper for apartments and shops in Manchester, England. Archaeologists brought in to the construction site found the remains of a forgotten 200-year-old pub and neighboring houses.

The Manchester Evening News reports that the archaeologists even know the name of the old pub- the Astley Arms. One of the interesting finds they made inside the rubble is the discovery of about 200-year-old booze bottles. Some of the bottles still contain 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. It’s amazing knowing there’s so much history at this site and it’s really exciting. I never expected this kind of thing to be found but we are really fascinated by it all.”

The archaeologists were also able to find the name of the Astley Arm’s 1821 owner, Thomas Evans, on some personalized plates. Aidan Turner, supervisor at the site and senior archaeologist, told the Manchester Evening News that the team managed to track down descendants of the pub’s owner. He said that they discovered one living relative is now living in Texas, USA.

It was found that the Astley Arms had its name changed in 1840. Then owner, Thomas Inglesent, called the pub the Paganini Tavern. However, the name returned to Astley Arms in the 1850s. Historians say that part of the building was rebuilt in 1986, but it was demolished later on.

Keys, pots for quills, and pipes were amongst other artifacts found at the site. The pottery has been dated to the early 1800s and at least some of the bottles are from the late 1900s. All of these everyday items have a special value for the archaeologists. As Turner said "It’s brilliant because you can suddenly connect it to the local people in the area. It’s nice to be able to connect it directly to living people and their families.”

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

The Manchester Evening News reports that some of the artifacts that have been discovered at the site will be displayed in the future at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Another (much older) tavern was discovered in Lattes, France recently. At 2,100 years old, it is believed to be the is the earliest Roman restaurant discovered to date. As Ancient Origins reported:

“Initially believed to be a bakery, USA Today reports that archaeologists now think that what they have uncovered is an ancient tavern. The archaeological findings include three indoor gristmills, and three ovens, which would have been used to bake flatbread. These findings go beyond what an individual home would require, and suggest that the site once hosted a tavern where the Romans could dine out.”

A Pompeiian taberna for eating and drinking. The faded painting over the counter pictured eggs, olives, fruit and radishes.

A Pompeiian taberna for eating and drinking. The faded painting over the counter pictured eggs, olives, fruit and radishes. ( Mac9/ CC BY 2.0 )

The Roman tavern is also said to have served “as an invaluable indicator of the changing social and economic infrastructure of the settlement and its inhabitants following the Roman conquest of Mediterranean Gaul in the late second century B.C.”  Before the Romans’ arrived in the ancient town, called Lattara, it was an area made up of farmers. The Roman presence created a more diverse economy, and the need for places to eat outside the home.

Top Image: Part of an old bank vault and the pub found at the construction site in Manchester, England. Source: MEN. Inset: Example of old brandy bottle that is similar to one found in Manchester ( westernbitters.com)

By Alicia McDermott

Alicia McDermott's picture


Alicia McDermott holds degrees in Anthropology, Psychology, and International Development Studies and has worked in various fields such as education, anthropology, and tourism. She is the Chief Editor of Ancient Origins Magazine. Traveling throughout Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador, Alicia... Read More

Next article