Historians in England got a rare treat this week when a completely unexpected archaeological site was discovered just under Manchester city streets. Construction crews there were preparing to break ground for a new apartment and shopping complex when they came across a surprising find: a long-forgotten yet intact pub.
According to the Manchester Evening News, the pub was found relatively intact, complete with unopened bottles of brandy. Personalized dishes were found emblazoned with the name of the pub’s former landlord, Thomas Evans. Evans’ keys, writing quills, and other personal effects were also found in the pub. The pub was named Astley Arms until 1840, when it was renamed the Paganini Tavern. Sometime shortly thereafter, the pub reverted back to its original name.
The pub has been dated to the early 1800s. At that time, Manchester was still a small market town as opposed to the major metropolis it is today. It remains unknown why this pub was seemingly abandoned in its nearly intact state.
Archaeologists made the discovery at the corner of Port Street and Great Ancoats Street when they were called in to inspect the site ahead of digging. James Alderson, one of the chief builders working at the site, says the discovery of such an intact pub complete with unopened booze was a complete shock to construction crews:
A lot of bottles have been found, maybe around 20. And three or four of them are full of brandy. 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 Manchester Museum of Science and Industry plans to create an exhibit out of the excavated items. This news comes on the heels of several other alcohol-related archeological finds this year, including the discovery of a 5000-year old beer recipe in China and a Mesopotamian clay tablet revealing workers were paid in beer.