Coal was being mined in small quantities from accessible seams in many parts of the Lancashire Coalfield during the 14th and 15th centuries, corresponding with its increased use for domestic purposes. Mine works that exploited seams beneath surface outcrops appear to have been introduced to the area in the 16th century, but very few have been investigated archaeologically. An exception can be drawn from Crompton Moor near Oldham (GM), where a regionally important relict coal-mining landscape was recorded as part of a Heritage Lottery project. This concluded that early 18th-century mining was undertaken by tenant farmers, with surviving remains including adits and bell pits, together with a range of later mining features (Nash and Nevell 2011).
One of the very small number of early coal-mining sites in the region to have been excavated was that at Windle Ashes, near St Helens (M), where some evidence for 17th-century coal mining was identified (Gregory 2013). Evidence for coal mining dating to the 15th and 16th centuries was also identified during archaeological excavations at Gadbury Fold, near Wigan, in 2007, which also produced a significant assemblage of pottery that has been dated to the 16th and 17th centuries. Several other coal-mining sites that are known from documentary sources to have been worked during the Post-Medieval period have been the focus of archaeological excavation, such as Bradford Colliery in east Manchester (Miller 2011), but have proved impossible to provide a close date for some of the features identified.