FASCINATING slices of local history have been unearthed by archaeologists at the site of Prescot's Market Place.

In a dig which took place at what has been the site of Prescot’s market for nearly 700 years, the team found part of the wall of Prescot’s Market Hall which was built in 1859 and demolished in 1964.

In another test pit, close to the churchyard, the cellar wall of what is believed to be an 18th century building was discovered.

And another pit revealed the carefully piled stone footings of what is thought to be a 17th century building. Unusual artefacts uncovered include a Victorian toy plate, a button made from bone and a small castor that was probably attached to the foot of a bedpost.

Other smaller finds include pieces of pottery and clay pipes from the 1700s and 1800s, glazed and unglazed in all manner of patterns and colours, which were most likely made in Prescot as the town once had several potteries.

The quality of the findings means that more work will take place to dig deeper and discover more artefacts.

The digs form part of the Prescot Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI), supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Star recently reported that the space at Market Place is to undergo a redevelopment with a competition having shortlisted five potential designs.

The digs were led by Dr Robert Philpott and Professor Harold Mytum from The University of Liverpool along with interns funded by the THI.

A full record and report of findings will be prepared and offered to Prescot Museum for potential display.

Dr Philpott said: “Before we started the digs, we were unsure whether any archaeological remains would have survived the demolition and landscaping.

"The results have been very positive, opening a fascinating window into the lives of the people of Prescot over the past three centuries.”

Cllr Graham Morgan, Knowsley Council's cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, added: “This archaeological work is really fascinating and it’s wonderful that we are continuing to learn more about Prescot’s past as we are creating a new future for the town.”

Archaeologists will return to the site in August to dig two larger, deeper trenches in the hope of finding more artefacts and reaching earlier historical eras. Anyone wishing to take part in digging, sorting and cleaning the finds in two-hour slots during August 3 to 11, can email their details to Lyndsey-Jane.Kevan@knowsley.gov.uk