The Early Tanning Industry in Northampton

Michael Shaw

3rd October 2009

St Andrew's Hospital, Billing Road, Northampton

Michael Shaw worked as an Archaeologist in Northampton from 1977 to 1997, originally for Northampton Development Corporation and subsequently for Northamptonshire County Council. It was during this time that he excavated the large tanning complex at The Green, Northampton, which forms the basis of his talk. He was also a member of the Northampton Wills Group which was responsible for the Record Society’s 2005 publication on Northampton Early Wills and he will be using some of the information gained from the wills to illuminate his study of the tanning industry in the town. Earlier Michael studied Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham. He is currently the Archaeologist for the Black Country and is undertaking a PhD on The Topography of the Medieval Towns of Cheshire at the University of Birmingham.

Michael Shaw will be talking about the archaeological excavations carried out at The Green in the south-west quarter of the historic town of Northampton in 1983 and his subsequent research on the early tanning industry in the town. The archaeological work uncovered evidence for up to three tanneries and a phase of tanning activity from around 1470 to 1700. The site is still the largest tanning complex ever excavated in England and the discoveries there have important implications for the study of the pre-industrial age tanning industry. In addition documentary research has demonstrated that there was a large community of tanners in the south-west quarter of Northampton at this time, some of whom were significant figures in the life of the town.

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