The Annual General Meeting took place with reports from the Chair, Secretary and Acting Treasurer. These reports outlined the difficulties faced during the last 18 months caused by the pandemic and the shortage of volunteers to take on key roles in the running of the Friends. An appeal was made for a Treasurer and those willing to give their time to the planning and supporting of future events. If you feel you can contribute in any way please contact us at

The AGM was followed by a brilliant talk by John Miller. John was one of the originators of The Pendle Heritage Centre, along with Doug Barber and has had first hand involvement in its development. He gave an illustrated and very informative talk about the development of the Walled Garden and Cruck Barn. In October 1977 Sir Roger Bannister attended the opening and then the work began.

In the planning stage well known experts in the field and local historic house plans were consulted before work started in earnest, aided by 200 workers supplied by The Manpower Services Scheme during the 1980’s. During this period money was raised to commemorate the work of Dr. Chevassut and trees were bought and dedicated to his work as a long serving and much valued doctor for the people of Barrowford. The new Conservatory was added in 1990, but prior to the start of this work the Friends’ Archaeology Group carried out a dig in the foundations and Penelope Keith, who lived in Wycoller at the time, came along to give some publicity to the venture. In 2003 at the official opening of the centre, HRH The Prince of Wales paid a visit, reflecting his own interest in historic gardens.

The complex as it is today is a recent achievement. It took five years to acquire the Barn and the cottages and these additions now act as venues for new income streams as the centre has to be financially self supporting. The Cruck Barn was rescued from Cliviger and reassembled in its new site at the Centre and is now used for weddings and other large events. Looking to the future John revealed plans to renew the Bluebell Wood at the back of the Centre and create “leaky damns” to help avoid flooding of the Walled Garden in future. He outlined the challenges of maintaining the garden and its now very small gardening team with the aid of small grants and volunteers.

Roses in Pendle Heritage Centre Garden. Attribution: Emma Walker

It felt wonderful to be back at a talk where we could meet together in person again as we return to our “new normal”. Let’s hope this continues.

The next talk is on Tuesday 9th November at 2pm when Steve Irwin is giving an illustrated talk entitled, “The Lancashire Cotton Famine and The American Civil War”. We hope to see you there.

Banner Image: The Fruits of Autumn in the Walled Garden. Attribution: Sue Wilkinson.

Andrea Smith led us on a very enjoyable walk around upper Barrowford and we put a toe into Higherford too. Another nice dry autumn day with convivial and interested people.

Walk 9th October. By the riverside.
Attribution: GW

Of course the ford can still be clearly seen today next to the park and there were another few places where the river could be forded. The origins of the ‘Barrow’ part of the name remain hazy,  without proof it can only be conjectured  that a barrow existed here.  We can however see solid evidence of the travel routes in these parts in the Toll House at the end of the bridge, this is situated on what was the Marsden to Gisburn to Long Preston turnpike. Earlier travellers would have used the packhorse bridge in Higherford, still in use for todays pedestrians.   The Leeds and Liverpool canal close by was used to transport cotton made locally across to Liverpool and the coal that was transported was used to power the looms of Lancashire and beyond.  The textile history of Lancashire is part of most people’s family history locally, not many families would not have had a relative connected to the cotton industry.  Lancashire can hold its head high as a major powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution.

Walk Oct. ’21. Inside the Cruck Barn. Attribution:

A fulling mill was recorded in Barrowford in the 16th century  and until the late 18th century, the manufacture of woollen cloth was the primary industry, but in 1780 the fulling mill was rebuilt by Abraham Hargreaves as a cotton mill.

We visited the huge water wheel that powered Higherford mill and one man and his dog even commissioned a wedding ring in the Craft Workshop there. A water wheel was powered by water drawn off the weir at Pendle Water.  The mill reservoir is now an ornamental pond in the park and nearby the children’s playground the remains of the mill can still be seen.  Many handloom weavers cottages can be seen along the main road, production of  woven cotton moved from here to massive weaving sheds after the introduction of power looms in the 1820’s.

Heavy reliance on the cotton trade for employment meant that this area would have been badly affected by the cotton famine during the American Civil War.   The local history during that time will be the subject of our talk on November 9th by Steve Irwin.

Walk Oct. 9th ’21. Examining the vernaclar architecture of Park Hill.

Andrea  pointed out many  ‘hidden’ features that are actually in plain sight from the main road, including a converted barn by the side of the road and some lovely 17th century vernacular buildings.  We finished by looking at the vernacular features of Park Hill and the very interesting Cruck Barn and it was gratifying to see the delight of people who had never visited the barn before.    On the way down we saw the ‘leaky dams’ recently rebuilt by the gardener Peter. And we were just in time to catch the cafe for tea and cake!

Banner Image: Friends and guests overlooking the Pack Horse Bridge, Higherford.

Attribution: G Wray

This was a really enjoyable afternoon with very convivial company as Norman Mitchell led us in the footsteps of Jonas Moore also known as the Father of Time.

Walking in the Footsteps of the Father of Time. NB 50 indicates the desired age of participants

Moore was the son of a yeoman farmer of White Lee Farm in Higham, educated at Burnley Grammar school and he achieved amazing things, all the more so as education was limited for that layer of society in those times. His family were connected to the Pendle Witches scandal after ‘Old Demdike’ allegedly bewitched his elder brother John to death.

He was a mathematician, surveyor and founding member and driving force a behind the establishment of the Royal Observatory at Greenwhich.  It’s refreshing to know that a lad from ‘oop north used his intelligence for the benefit of society and reached such a respected position in those times in London where he rubbed shoulders with the ‘great and the good’.  He was a friend of Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke, he wined and dined with Samuel Pepys who hung a map of Moore’s on his wall and also counted Moore as a ‘worthy friend’.    Moore’s chief patron was James, Duke of York, brother to Charles 11. Moore published his book Arithmetick in 1650 and apparently during the founding of the Observatory he paid for equipment out of his own pocket.  Along with his son he is buried in the Tower of London.

After stopping at White Lee farm where Moore lived as a child. we descended into Sabden Fold and before reaching 16th Century Sabden Great Hall, examined a quern stone in a nearby field and pondered on its date and origins. We moved down the Hidden Valley to Stainscomb and viewed

Quern Stone in Sabden Fold. September 2022

Stan’s Cabin sadly in need of repair likewise the delapidated 17th century farmhouse at Woodside.  Onto Dean farm, another interesting vernacular building associated with Moore and then up the hill and back to Higham.

Sir Jonas Moore. Line engraving by T. Cross, 1650, after H. Stone. Courtesy of Wellcome Images

This was an excellent walk on a lovely early autumn day with a very well informed guide and a good time was had by all, despite the rain over by Cock Clough.

We hope to discover more local heritage during the Heritage week in 2022 and lots more before then too. Watch our website and posters around the area.

Banner Image: Sabden Fold where Norman Mitchell regales the group with interesting facts laced with a dose of  humour.  Attribution: GWray

“..And they were off to a good start”….   It was a real pleasure to see people turn out for our first talk of the year and to welcome Harold Hoggarth back again to the Friends – and with such tales to tell too.

The catalyst for this talk was the information Harold discovered whilst researching his family history, he came across pleasant surprises and found he was related to an industrious and well known pioneer of the industrial revolution named Samuel Crompton who was his four times great grandfather on his mothers side of the family.

Portrait of Samuel Crompton. PDomain

You may know that Samuel invented the Spinning Mule but what you may not know is that he and his machinery were spied on by Sir Richard Arkwright another famous inventor who was said to be trying to steal his ideas and patent them, even going so far as to drill a hole in the ceiling to spy on folk. Sir Robert Peel advised Samuel to set up a public subsidy he received only £60.  Peel then arranged a meeting between him and the Prime Minister who agreed to Sam receiving £20,000 unfortunately as the prime minister was going to Parliament to get the vote for this payment he was shot and poor Sam received nothing.  He eventually set up a dyeing works and there was a subscription collected for him from the public.

Sam’s family originally lived in Fir Wood Fold in a thatched cottage for 300 years, since restored and now looking rather splendid –  and then moved up to an Elizabethan house Hall’i’the Wood.

Hall i’the Wood. Home of Samuel Crompton. Attribution: Rept0n1x


Also part of Harold’s story is a Mayor of Nelson,   a snuff factory in Kendal and an involvement with the rebuilding of the staircase at the Abbots lodging at Whalley Abbey which was bought by the Assheton family.  Harold’s last slide was quite poignant, a painting by his wife of a grove of white birches that depicted a couple in the distance.. their children. Their family tree as it were.

Well, how satisfying that must be to know that several branches of your family were connected to the work and industry of the north west and indeed the world.  And that the fruits of their labour can still be seen today.

Did you know that:

1lb weight of cotton could be spun into 167 miles of thread or 332 miles which apparently wasn’t very practical.

That a member of the Gawiths Snuff factory in Kendal bought 50 tons of snuff making machinery some of which is still in use today and is around 310 years old.    They made them well in those days.

Banner Image: 10 Fir Fold, Samuel Cromptons childhood home.  Originally a thatched cottage. Attribution: Margaret Clough


This field walk was to complete the investigation of the western postulated boundary and further examine the enclosures to the north of the site. We had an enjoyable time wandering around and conjecturing what the various ditches, boundaries and banks had to tell us, the conclusions are as follows. We also viewed the interesting vernacular architecture of local homes from the 17th century, Copthurst among them.

The western boundary was not proved and ceased at the point shown on the map.

The banks and ditches to the north of the boundary, together with their disposition, were hard to understand and no proposal is put forward for the purpose of these. However, it is known that gravel extraction took place. It is proposed that this boundary formed the northern edge of the postulated Brerecar, where there is a length of a strong bank with a ditch. This, together with the banks and ditches to the south are compatible to those of the late medieval period and could form the internal and external boundaries to the postulated cattle pool. It is clear that all the banks were not constructed at the same time and for a different purpose.

Map of Higham Area. Courtesy of D Taylor

The original proposal for the enclosure to be the cattle pool would appear to be too large in area and the proposed revised boundaries offer a much more practical solution.

Further research should confirm the boundaries to the proposed enclosure and establish the internal boundaries. Further documentary research should also be undertaken.

Banner Image: Copthurst Farm. Attribution: Bill Boaden

Who knew how interesting the western side of Higham was going to turn out to be!  This is what walk leader Ian Rowley had to report.

The visit got off to an exciting start when we were almost hit by a falling squirrel, which I am happy to report bounded away unhurt. The walk commenced from the lay-by c 500 m west of Higham on Padiham bypass and we headed NW to Holly Hill (house), noting the earth bank along the eastern edge of the track. Just past Holly Hill we turned right towards Old Jeremy’s Farm. Here a drystone wall replaced the old earth bank boundary for part of the way. Turning left at Old Jeremy’s farm we continued uphill, passing Copthurst farm on our right.

Near Higham Spring 21.
Attribution: Ian Rowley

To the west of Copthurst, extending for at least 500m, is a field system with earth bank boundaries; these had a triangular x-section. The banks were probably continuous originally, but now have gaps to allow vehicular access and perhaps provide shelter for sheep. Where the ground has been undisturbed the banks were accompanied by a broad, shallow ditch. It was thought this area could have been a vaccary area.

Near Higham. Spring 21.
Attribution: Ian Rowley

These fields are situated just south of Stump Hall Rd and we investigated a feature shown on the 1840s OS map extending from there to just north of Holly Hill. The feature looks like a road on the map, but was found to be two parallel earth banks. It is difficult to summarise the situation, but descending the hill the earth banks became further apart and additional banks and ditches appeared in places.

Returning to the top of the feature, there was a section of bank at right angles to the main structure. It is possible that this could be a dam to hold water for hushing in the gravel pits shown on the 1890s OS map. This interpretation was not universally accepted! The curved ditch, visible in Google Earth, could have collected the gravel while sorting it from coarse at the top to fine at the bottom. The water supply was now piped to the water trough some metres below the dam.

Near Higham, Spring 21.
Looking N towards possible ‘dam’.
Attribution: Ian Rowley

An enjoyable walk in the sunshine and we hope to do further investigation in the area.

Banner Image: Near Higham. Spring 21. Attribution: Ian Rowley

What a joyous start to the easing of lockdown, gorgeous weather and good company.   A group of socially distanced Friends met at the Assheton Arms in Downham. First to the site of the Roman Road (RR).   David Taylor described the features of RR’s and their routes around the country, he discussed Margary’s work which still seems to remain a major reference point for RR aficionados.

Some of us had a prod through the topsoil of the putative aggar, which did meet stony resistance, however that is not proof of a RR, as it could be limestone bedrock.   Another point of guidance is the Lidar picture (light detecting and ranging mapping technology) which enables archaeologists to ‘prove’ the course of the road, which seems to disappear at times between Downham and the A682.  The archaeology group – PAG, are hoping to research and survey to establish the exact route of the road.

Then we descended the steep slope of Dowham Green to Downham Corn Mill. Although the present mill was built by the Asshetons in the 18th and 19th centuries, there was a corn mill on the site around 1311, the rent of which was 26s8d. per year.   A princely sum in those days.

Dowham Green. Easter 2021. Attribution: D. Taylor

Downham Green has an interesting history, John of Gaunt leased 40 acres for 40 marks in 1380. During the times of Elizabeth1 and James1 there were great disputes between the Lord of Downham and his tenants.   Richard Assheton was said to have ‘maliciously enclosed… great waste ground adjoining Downham Green’ enclosing 40 acres with a ditch and a hedge.   This led to trouble, villagers including those from Chatburn, with women among them broke down the wall. A Thomas Ryley complained in 1593 that he had been prevented digging for stones and burning them in the lime kilns on the Green.   Surely here is evidence today of lime kilns which we have yet to find.

Downham Walk. Easter 2021. Still as a Mill Pond?
Attribution: D.Taylor

From the corn mill we crossed Rimington lane down to Ings Beck where one of the loveliest the packhorse bridges (PHB) stands. One of the Ribble Valley’s hidden gems.  Swanside PHB is said to have been built like many PHB’s between 1650 and 1750, it lies on a route between Whalley and Sawley Abbeys.   A key crop and money spinner for the Cistercians was wool, carried in panniers or sidebags.   An essential feature of PHB’s are low parapets on the bridges so that they did not interfere with the load. Swanside is a very simple narrow bridge only able to carry a single pony and is not wide enough for a cart.   Some PHB’s have been extended as at Stainforth which we visited a few years ago.

Downham Walk. Swainside Packhorse Bridge. Easter 2021. Attribution: D. Taylor

Another major local product was lime, used in lime mortar and to sweeten the sour soils of the Pennines. An area which also provided coal for the return journey as packhorses never travelled with empty panniers. Other transported materials included iron and lead.   These were often very busy routes, it is said in Clitheroe before 1750 that 1,000 packhorses a day passed through the area.

A resting place for packhorses and their drivers was Bonny Blacks Farm, on Coal Pit lane by the side of the A 682 on the way to Barnoldswick, the name Salterforth tells you what the pack horses carried.   These packhorse routes also followed monastic or Roman roads so it would seem right to conjecture that the packhorse ponies passed along the RR at Brogden on the way to Salterforth.

We are looking forward to further exploring this beautiful area.

Banner Image: At Swainside Packhorse Bridge. Easter 2021.  Attribution: D. Taylor

Footpath following RR near Standen Hey Farm

On one sunny day in Autumn we walked from the A671 down a very straight metalled road to the Standen Hey Farm trying to track the Roman Road (RR), for a good while we must have been walking on top of it. After the farms an almost straight grassy track led past the golf course towards the railway line where we stopped and returned.

In the hunt for the RR rom Standen Hey to the railway line.

At several points along the track it was easy to feel stony resistance when using a metal prod.   On returning to the main road it was easy to see where the RR continues to the left through a small triangle of land.   Having crossed the main road we could see no discernible features in the fields there.  There is a fantastic aerial view of this section  see

Another cloudy and colder day saw us around the Stopper Lane /Tewit Hill areas.   We revisited what we thought was a very definite  aggar to the east of Stopper lane only to be disppointed when there was no stony resistance in the land when prodded.  Since then someone has remarked that not all RR are covered with stone, an earth bank may have been sufficient in places.     In the area around Tewit Hill there seemed to be a stony bank leading on from a holloway near a farm building. However this could be of later origin perhaps mediaeval or later.

Although the lidar appears to show the track of the RR between Twiston beck  and the A682  (Gisburn Rd) just after   apparently one of the best examples of a RR at Downham, there appear to be quite a few areas where the road seems to have disappeared.  In the Howgill Farm area very little could be identified.  We look forward to establishing the route when we get together with Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership to identify and survey these sections hopefully in 2021 when social distancing measures are more relaxed.

Banking near site of RR Tewit Hill.

Banner Image:  Banking or near site of RR near Tewit Hill


Well… Status Quo weren’t exactly on our minds last weekend….. but we did go deeper down.   A small group dug near to Calf Hill on the flanks of Pendle Hill, socially distanced of course with gloves and hand sanitiser.

Deeper and down. July 2020. Calf Hill.

After a geo physical survey last year led us to believe that there might be things to be found we trialled the Leicester University test pit method and found – nothing of note.    In the corner of one trench we did go deeper and down but unfortunately there were no signs of human habitation.  Of course according to archaeologists, the positive side to this is that there  is nothing there, that’s what they say!  Apparently geo physics is a good tool but not an altogether accurate one,  in the past it has shown anomalies that were not visible on excavation and likewise has shown nothing when a dig has revealed findings.

At a distance… July 2020. Calf Hill.

Despite finding nothing it was a pleasant day on the moorland with good company, it hasn’t put us off though, we can always return at a later date in the possibly socially distanced future.

Socially distanced digging. July 2020. Calf Hill.

It was an overcast and windy day when we met on Coal pit lane, an old packhorse route running from Weets house down to Gisburn. We photographed Bonny Black’s Farm, which was a stopover post on the packhorse route, for Margaret Dickinson who gave us a splendid talk on Packhorse Bridges and routes and the packhorse trade at our AGM last year.

Bonny Black’s Farm. Attribution: Jean Baxter

From there we went to view the earthwork on the map which is Bomber Camp, a squarish/rectangular shape. The earthwork ditch and low banks are at ground level and can be viewed from the road on the south side and should stand out in an aerial view. Sadly there is no footpath near the site.  These earthworks are all that remain of a Romano-British camp, villa or settlement, dating from the mid to late 4th century AD. In the 1980’s this site was excavated by our group.

Bomber camp bank and ditch looking east. Attribution: Sunbright57.

From there we returned to Howgill Lane and aimed to find the Roman Road near Brogden Lane and after a detour caused by missing a concealed signpost we reached the track to Brogden. After using a metal probe which met stony resistance and viewing the changes in the colour of the grass we ascertained that we had found the track.  Now we are no experts, but we are of the opinion that the darker middle strand is the top of the aggar or camber and the two dark patches on either side are the ditches.

Supposed track of Roman Road on the way to Brogden. Attribution: Jean Baxter

Next time we are out hunting Roman Roads we will aim to take a tape measure.  Had the grass not been recently cut we would probably not have seen these tracks as they were certainly not visible in the next field where the grass was longer.  There seemed to be signs there of a previous excavation trench and the probe was still meeting stony resistance in places.   After being surrounded by some beautiful chestnut horses we continued over a ford to the starting point.

A pleasant walk in an unspoilt and probably little visited lovely area, we were able to see Warren Knotts above Settle, near Victoria Cave before the mist descended.

Supposed Roman Road near Brogden. July 2020. Attribution: Jean Baxter

Banner Image:

Bomber Camp aerial view.

Attribution: Sunbright57


How refreshing to see and hear Jennifer Read’s presentation which included songs and dialect poetry. Her enthusiasm for this subject is helping to keep alive our oral Lancashire traditions.  Jennifer is a Broadsheet Balladress, broadsheet as in the very large sheets of paper A3 size,two sheets on which songs were written.  Essentially they were Victorian work songs about life in the mills and on the canals, omitting railways as they are ‘too high tech’ for Jennifer……

Jennifer Reid with the Hairy Bikers on the Pubs that Built Britain tour at the

Originally Broad sheet ballads were sung in the Civil War about division and strife if you were on the wrong side and known as a ‘rebellious’ household your goods could be sold.     By the 19th century they had moved on to more personal emotional matters, love, deception and the struggles of the country bumpkins after being robbed in the industrial areas they had moved to.

A lamentable balld of the little Musgrove and the lady Barnet. Part of an ancient Broadside before 1675. Courtesy of: F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright. Public Domain

“In seventeenth century England, broadside ballads were everywhere. Walk into an alehouse and you would see sheets pasted to the walls—the woodcuts of lords and ladies, shepherds, milkmaids, murderers, lovers, and even murderous lovers vying for your attention. Walk the streets of London and you would see the sheets held up by ballad mongers, with heavily inked black-letter type, waiting to be bought. But you would not just see broadside ballads on walls or in hands, you would also hear them. They were sung in groups in the alehouse, sung individually by a ballad monger, sung at work by apprentice and master, sung in the fields by milkmaids and farmers. Printed with the names of familiar tunes to which they could be sung, broadside ballads were more than art, more than text, and more than song. They were, in a sense, promiscuous—available to all and used in all kinds of ways. Thus broadside ballads really were everywhere. ”  (Eric Nebeker (2007)  The Heyday of the Broadside Ballad). Essentially they were written for the working classes.

The richness of our Lancashire cultural heritage is evident in the songs of the time.  One writer Edwin ‘Woff ‘or Waugh…. wrote of the Weaver of Wellbrook.  Songs also epitomised the struggles during the Cotton Famine.   Whilst researching in the archives Jennifer came across the work of Paul Graney amongst his occupations and pastimes were historian, climber, collector, pipe fitter, pace egger and much more. At the tender age of twelve he spent half his time in school and half at work.   Like many people in the ‘Depression’ he experienced joblessness and went ‘..on the Tramp’ looking for work. Tramps would pass each other walking there and back through the Lancashire cotton towns.  People who couldn’t afford a bed in a doss house would pay tuppence to hang over a rope to go to sleep, in Glasgow though it was ‘A penny lean’.

Jennifer Reid at with H and Jules at Northlight Mill, Brierfield at the Shapes of Water Sounds of Hope event.

It is through the work of Paul Graney that many of the songs and narratives survive today. Jennifer found a book in the Manchester Archives that was bookmarked by him. There are about 1,800 of his  recordings (we listened to a couple) and apparently the trust and friendship of the times shines through.  Paul’s work had an impact on the Folk Revival in the 60′, people like the Fryman’s and Mike Harding who many will be familiar with today.

Jennifer is striving to get a Dialect Poetry workshop going in North East Lancashire, highly likely to be meeting at Booth’s Barrowford it is for anyone with an interest in Lancashire dialect and indeed what happens will be directed by the desires of the group.  Jennifer is also planning visits to Manchester Central Library and other archives.  So come along and support this enthusiastic young person in keeping our oral traditions alive and start some of your own!

Did you know?

Long Song Seller’s held long rolls of paper with songs printed on and cut them off to sell them, sometimes this resulted in Del boy style antics?

A Pace Egger is someone who takes place in a Mumming Play at Easter time?

Dr David Taylor gave an interesting talk to a good group of members, he started by saying that during the time leading up to WW11 pottery did not play a major part in archaeology nor was it well researched.  Over the years this view of the importance of pottery has changed and there has been much research in the area. Apparently pottery is classified into pottery series for example Dragonsdorf named after the chap who originally researched and classified it.

Members listening to the talk on PAS. Jan 2020. Attribution:GW

The three properties of pot are that it is indestructable (well relatively!) and very importantly it is dateable and it is also a reflection of the culture of a people and their times. The nearest site for the basis of pot making is clay, locally our sources came from  Cliviger, an underlying factor is that clay has to be easily obtainable.  The properties of clay are adjusted by adding fillers, sand or silica or other material for example shells.  Human and animal bone has also been included in the mix at times.   Clay was moulded by hand or thrown on a wheel then dried and fired.  A very basic way was to put the pot in an open fire methods then progressed to firing the pot in kilns.

Biscuit ware is apparently the simplest form of pot. Slipware is a liquid clay which is added to waterproof the pot, reducing its porosity, this can be done inside and outside the pot.   The earliest pots were hand coiled or moulded and produced by the Beaker people – Belgic tribes,   mainly consisting of food vessels and collared urns, produced in the Mid to Late Bronze Age (BA) which eventually reached our eastern British shores.  Vases with a hare or deer were common in Iron Age times and reflect the culture of the time.

The Romans relied heavily on pot for food vessels, both cooking and storage,  amphora mainly for wine, flagons and other household items such as lamps.  This was divided into coarse or fine ware, the Romans used a lot of slip ware and also Samian ware or Terra Sigillata mostly created in south, east and central Gaul and Spain although at one point Colchester produced some inferior Samian ware. Apparently Samian ware was produced by the Romans before the occupation of Brittanica and up to 250 AD when the Brits started making their own.  Finding Samian ware is very useful to the archaeologist as it can be very tightly dated,  due to the date stamp. Samian ware was produced in molds in standardised forms. A military works depot or tile works has been found at Holt near Chester, of course tiles were used for flooring as well as roofing. Floor tiles could be as much as 1 or 2ft. square and 3inches thick.

Opus Signinum: Attribution: Peter Hess

It was very interesting to find out  the nature of Opus signinum, a type of building material used in ancient Rome usually for flooring. It is made of broken tiles, river gravel or very small pieces of stone mixed with lime or clay mortar, and then beaten down with a rammer. If you have been in any British public building you will be very familiar with Opus signinum.  A technique the Romans inherited from the Phoenicians. 

David also discussed Grey ware, Black Burnished ware, Fine ware, Rusticated ware.  Tokesey ware produced in Anglo Saxon times was found around the East coast sadly the North West appears to have been aceramic in those times.  Moving on to Mediaeval times and the 12th and 13th centuries where the monks brought with them from France their knowledge of building and making pottery which included floor tiles.  It is thought that North Yorks. glazeware was produced at Riveaulx Abbey.

Find Of The Day – rim sherd of a late Medieval/early Post Medieval vessel. Attribution: Alex Whitlock

At the end of the presentation David outlined the pottery that was found at Park Hill in the ground floor of the Museum where a dig took place around thirty years ago. Most of the shards appeared to be from pots brought over from east Yorkshire, Humber ware.  However there was a pot with a pie crust rim internally glazed and with a bung….  these finds should be able to be viewed in the Museum.

It’s quite exciting to wonder who made a pot, where it was made and ascertain its usage and of course one has to wonder how it came to be in the place it was found for example a tiny piece of Samian Ware 1,000 feet up a hill in the Yorkshire Dales.  There is nothing better when one has scrabbled about in the soil in the cold and damp and worse for hours to turn up a sliver of pottery that can be dated and help to put a particular site on a map.

Did you know?

That amphorae were transported by putting the bottom layer in clay and then fitting the other layers inbetween the spaces?

That Terra Sigillata means earth with dancing figures?

That Potsilana was Rome’s secret weapon in construction, it’s a type of waterproof concrete that has endured for millenia and enabled the most remarkable feats of engineering?  

That carrying points on pottery were deliberately roughened to ensure that they did not slip out of greasy hands?

Banner Image:   Three ceramic roof tiles which are curved and are handmade. They are probably Roman imbrices. The fabric is orange throughout. It is soft and rough and the texture is hackly. The inclusions are frequent and are poorly sorted. They are mainly sand and quartz. The breaks are abraded. Attribution: Portable Antiquities Scheme, British Museum


We were off to a good start for our first walk of the year.   New people were introduced to the Hidden Valley project and the rain held off as the walk leader Alex Whitlock took us to previous excavation sites and on the way we tried to find the Chartist Well, well not entirely successfully. We saw the roadway and quarries date and exact history unknown and investigated marker stones.

First walk of the year 2020. Attribution: Gaye McCrum
Collating Various Group Finds. Nov. 2016. Attribution: Alex Whitlock
Apparently there is quite a lot of Prehistory in the area, not to mention the Kiln site – another of our excavation sites.  There are two carbon dates from this site, meaning there is hard evidence  that the kiln was worked in the 11th Century, possibly before the Norman Conquest and another date of around 1545.     We also  viewed the remains of Great and Little Craggs farms where we have held previous excavations where Alex divulged relevant information. The image of the Group Finds is likely to contain some of the finds from Little Craggs.
All in all a very interesting walk.
Next session:  Saturday February 8th in the Green Room a lecture on the Importance of Pottery in Archaeology.
Banner Image: Near Calf Hill. Attribution: Gaye McCrum

There was an excellent attendance and much interest in Denise North’s talk on the role  of embroidery in recording history.

Embroidered pictures told a story that could not be shared before the population became literate.  Stitching marks our existence onto fabric and also helps us to identify ourselves and our different cultures. A good example of this is the Bayeux tapestry a historical document which is of national and worldwide importance. Apparently it is not a tapestry but an embroidery of wool on linen and it paints picture of life in the 11th Century as well as the battle that led to the demise of an English way of life that was forever lost under the Norman invasion.

Fleeing. Bayeux Tapestry.
Public Domain

Denise showed illustrations and talked us through examples of the different techniques which included cross stitch, counted thread work, ribbon embroidery, straight stitch, stump work and traditional black work.  Of course elaborate work  was a pastime for women who didn’t have to work, the V & A holds embroideries of Mary Queen of Scots and her ladies, the Bayeux tapestry was made by noble women.

There is an interesting local link to a modern embroidery work by the Quakers, seventy seven panels worked by four thousand men, women and children. One panel depicts Pendle Hill, the site of George Fox’s vision of ‘great people to be gathered’ in 1652. The Quaker movement is said to be dated to that day.

Elizabeth Fry was also a great needlewoman, a little known fact about her life is that she would visit the convict ships before they sailed to Australia and give each woman a bag of ‘useful sewing things’, this meant that the women had something to sell to help them get started in their life when they reached port. Thus demonstrating her forward thinking approach.

Mothers Union Banner, Belaugh, Norfolk. Attribution: Tecoates

World War 1 embroidered silk postcards were intended for the British women, the soldiers from France and Belgium did not do this as their womenfolk already did a lot of embroidery and there was no novelty value in this.  A much embroidered flower of course was the Forget – me -not.   Another fascinating snippet Denise informed us about was the Signature Cloth which one particular Nursing Home instigated and one which Denise is still researching, trying to tie up the names with present day families and another cloth connected to the WI at Little Marsden.

A contemporary counterpart to the Bayeux tapestry is the Overlord Embroidery. Made after  WW2 the embroidery was created between 1968 and 1974 and depicts a reverse invasion from the one 900 years earlier. At 83 metres it took 20 embroiderers and 5 apprentices five years to make.  Embroidery is also connected to the German occupation of the Channel Islands where Red Cross parcels helped to reduce starvation levels in the population.

Stitches in time. Credit: Denise North

We were also able to view tapestries of a more personal nature to Denise, memories of holidays in Hawick,  Assisi, Cyprus, and  Malta among others. The Settle and Carlisle railway was also featured.  In some pieces from bought embroidery kits Denise had made her own memorable additions. Other pieces demonstrated embroidered copies of works by Klimt, Picasso, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and a celebration of 200 years of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

This was an excellent and enjoyable talk showing also that sewing and embroidery can be a shared experience which is good for the soul which could be said for all shared positive experiences.

Banner Image: A close up of Bayeux Tapestry, Scene 1. Edward the Confessor, Harold 11. Public Domain


We spent a very interesting and informative morning listening and looking at artefacts, most of them local, ranging in date from the  upper paleolithic era to modern times. Alex Whitlock one of the Finds Liaison Officers for Lancashire and Cumbria revealed his knowledge of various finds that are logged by the Portable Antiquities Scheme  or PAS. This body was set up after the Treasure Act specifically for the reporting of finds by the public.

PAG Group members Jan. 2020 with FLO Alex Whitlock. Attribution: GW

Apparently in the early Bronze Age (EBA) material for making implements was thought to be ‘brought by the gods”. From knapped flints which provided scrapers to axe technology, we were riveted…     Interestingly and unusually one mesolithic flint was found with resin attached meaning that it would provide a suitable spot for attaching arrow heads or flints.  In the mid BA technology shifted to socketed axes, spear heads had peg holes and loops to hold the implement in place.   Flint and stone use continued into the Iron Age (IA). Past material was sometimes re used or re purposed in later years for example a  neolithic flint core showed signs of being used again in the BA.

Members listening to the talk on PAS. Jan 2020. Attribution:GW

There was a copper alloy functional clothing pin from the (IA)  some were of a lynch pin type, others a toggle arrangement. Late IA or early Roman harness rings and reins have also been found. Brooches in the Roman period have been found specific to Britannia. The use of currency started in the IA perhaps when the Romans traded with Britain before invading, sadly no local or north west currency has come to light – yet…   There also seems to be a dearth of pottery, some Samian ware and black ware which were imported have been found.

The Anglo Saxon period was largely aceramic but that era has revealed a scabbard the top of which is gilded with a garnet. Early mediaeval times revealed coinage which was more simple,  a step down from Roman currency then.. The post mediaeval period reveals a decorated spindle whorl, a find from earlier AS times is a sandstone loom weight found close to the Sen house in Maryport.

Alex stated that the finds that the public make help to re write history, these people include gardners, hikers, metal detectors.    A good, relatively local example of this is the Cuerdale Hoard  discovered in 1840 on the southern bank of the River Ribble near Preston. It is the second largest Viking hoard ever found and is displayed at the British Museum.

If you are interested in the history of Britain and your local area in particular it is well worth browsing the PAS  website – and an absolute must for amateur armchair archaeologists, you will find a box of delights.

Anyone for a walk along the River Ribble near Preston?

Did you know?

That a lead Roman weight was recyled – recoated – in recent times and the Vikings recycled an early mediaeval lead weight.

In the post mediaeval period a lead alloy hornbook was created and is to be seen on the PAS website.

That Elizabethan silver coinage is the purest silver coinage to be produced in Britain.

That Cistercian floor tiles found at Whalley are also to be found at Fountains Abbey and near Beverley. An example of early corporate  branding perhaps?

Banner Image: Ceramic Floor tile at Whalley Abbey. Presently in Clitheroe Castle Museum. Photograph by Mike Peel (


 This was a very pleasant afternoon, the droll and wry humoured script of Alan Bennett’s “A Cream Cracker under the Settee” ably performed by Maureen Roberts was just right for a wet December afternoon.  

Maureen Roberts reprising Alan Bennet’s ‘Cream Cracker under the Settee’. Attribution: Alan Hardman

We are indebted to Maureen one of our members, who has much experience as a local actor and director, for stepping in at the last minute to replace Joanne Halliwell.

We enjoyed carol singing with Barbara Smith, and her acoustic guitar,  another talented member of the Friends and the Secret Singers too before tucking into sherry, mince pies and Christmas cake.  All in all a good start to the festive season.

There was a lucky winner of the Chocolate Bouquet.

Seasons greetings to all and peace and good health in the New Year.

Chocolate Bouquet. Attribution: Dawn Beaumont

Banner Image: A-carolling The Twelve Days of Christmas. Attribution: Dawn Beaumont


Thanks to John and Anne Dodd we had another successful Quiz night. And the group that won it were…. the LYW’s or last years winners – Graham, Sue, Gillian, Iain and Pat, well there were five of them! We started off with a round Lancashire quiz, we had anagrams of lancashire dishes – which were real brain teasers.

The Cousins, member Frances Howarth second left with her family. Attribution: A Hardman
Quiz Masters John and Anne Dodd strutting their stuff. Nov. 2019. Attribution: Alan Hardman

What can be more Lancashire than an enjoyable meat and potato pie supper?

The challenge is on for next year, will the LYW’s remain as the winners in 2020 ?


Why lines were built and why they were shut have been of great interest to our speaker for much of his life and on Thursday night Alan Young came to talk about his hobby.  Being a Geordie he first became interested in railway lines and stations in Heaton near Newcastle, that was in 1972 however by 1981 there was nothing left of this branch as it had been replaced by the metro.

Of course we lose railway stations usually when the lines are closed down and to date there are over 2,000 stations that have been closed down since they were built.  Some of these would have been built in the mid 1800’s.   Many different companies competed for business whether this was for transporting goods such as coal or the passengers that came along afterwards, apparently South Wales was a tangle of railways (what with the coal mines an’

Great Harwood. 1952. Courtesy of John Mann Collection

all boyo).  The advent of trams and the motor car and then double decker buses reduced passenger transport and probably goods transport too and around 1921 there was surge of railway closures.  However it was  Mr Beechings plan “The Reshaping of British Railways” in 1963 that led to the nine thousand stations being reduced to two thousand.  His plan was to stem large losses as increasing competition from road transport reduced income for the railways. Beeching’s cuts decimated some railways in the local area such as the Colne to Skipton  and the line to Fleetwood. We are lucky that the Burnley or Preston to Colne line is still open apparently there is a campaign afoot to reopen the Colne to Skipton line.

Piquantly Beeching didn’t get all his sums right. Originally the line from Skipton to Leeds was planned for closure, however it remains open and is apparently the most profitable route outside SW England!  Alongside the closures some lines were identified for significant investment.

Alan mentioned two private lines, one to Whittingham Hospital near Preston where patients and staff used the line and one at Holme Chapel in Cliviger used by the family at Holme Hall.   The Townley Arms at Longridge was a public house attached to the station there and was restored in 2008 as a heritage and community centre by Heritage lottery funding. Of course the other Townley Arms that is familiar to us lies on the Bacup road in Cliviger. Another well restored building is the station master’s house at Conishead Priory on the old line to Barrow.

It was poignant to be reminded of the small stations or halts that were lost locally such as Bott Lane, Padiham, Simonstone, Reedley Halt and New Hall street stations, some of them barely more than a post and some hard standing.

Did you know?

That Manchester Central was known as the St Pancras of the North.

That originally the station at Blackpool North was to close and the Central station was to keep open but the council had other ideas and applied to keep Blackpool North open, the Central and South Stations closing.   The land at Central station has still not been developed but provides visitor parking and a good route straight into the town centre following the old railway line.

That Bott Lane the nearest station to Barrowford near the old Nelson Grammar school was heaving with people whenever there was a match at Turf Moor in Burnley.

That Portsmouth station near Todmorden  (now defunct) apparently got its name from a high ranking seaman who on retiring from the the navy bought some fields in the area and named them after naval bases.

That we were lucky to have in the audience that night Eddie Bobrowski who is very well known for his excellent photos of trains in the UK and we were lucky to see one of his excellent photos.

That without the legacy of John Mann who left thousands of photos, which were nearly lost, we would not be able today to view so much of the past history of the railways.

Banner Image:  Withnell Station, 17th April 1077. Attribution: Alan Young.

Kevin Cootes proved to us that Cheshire was not ‘a black hole’ in the Iron Age nor is it ‘not well known archaeologically’. After outlining nearby settlements, Chester amphitheatre and Meols for example he expanded on the Poulton site. This in an ideal position on a plateau overlooking a rich agricultural flood plain and near to the motorways of history.  He riveted our attention on its multi stage occupancy, evidence of Roman habitation and work shops overlying Iron Age roundhouses of which there were plenty.

Prehistory Study Day. Secretary Jean Hardman and speaker Kevin Cootes. Attribution: A Hardman

The site – Chapel Field – was excavated at the request of the farmer who had made an accidental discovery of decorated stone, showing a small mediaeval chapel. Unsurprisingly graves were found but astonishingly these numbered 950 the largest burial excavation in Britain. Roman pottery was found in 14th/15th C. graves which led to an assessment of the landscape which was crammed with gulleys which gave up thousands of Roman finds including industrial waste. Unheard of previously and especially in rural Cheshire.  Poulton contains the largest number of Iron Age (IA) roundhouses in lowland NW England in one place, there were ditches, multiple post holes, five thousand finds including lithics. The ditches are very deep 1.5M, 1K plus animal bones were found including traction animals. The cattle and sheep were found to be raised in Poulton. The first antler working was also found here.   Roundhouse 3 turned out to be the most intriguing, with two dog burials apparently an IA tradition. A few human bones were also found here as scraps perhaps thrown in with the rubbish. The site was virtually aceramic but one pot containing 10kg salt was found a large amount but useful in preserving food. Industrial waste included iron, copper mould for dress pins, an iron adze was also found which may have been made on the site.  Stone tools were also revealed. Kevin outlined the environmental vegetation 45% of this was found in Roundhouse 3 and it possible that this may have been part of a closing down feast.  The findings over decades from this fascinating multiperiod site is part of a very vibrant historical story in North West lowland England.

Prehistory Study Day. Sam Walsh chats to Eddie Aldersley. Attribution: A Hardman

Sam Walsh is currently working on remains for Kurdistan from 7,700 years ago. She explained what the study of osteology reveals about past humans such as age at death, sex, health, disease, trauma, burial practices and preservation of bodies.   Mostly in the North west people in the BA were cremated.  The colour of the bone, fragmentation, size of fragments and fracture patterns all tell the own story.  Burials in the BA were commonly in round barrows either singly or in groups, cremation became more common later in the BA where remains were put in urns which were then buried.

Liffs Low and Arbor Low in Derbyshire and Winterbourne near Stoke are well known sites. Cairns were also used such as the one at Whitelow Ramsbottom, where most of the remains have been lost but where there were 12 burials, one in a patterned urn dating 2K to 1700BC.  More locally is Carriers Croft at Pendleton excavated by John Hallam in the 60’s and 70’s revealing large fragments of well preserved bone in two urns. In urn three was a gold object the only gold found in Lancashire associated with burials.  Other sites where human remains can be found include stake and post hut circles such as at Poulton and the Bleasdale circle and places such as Little Meg and caves such as Fairy Holes that was mentioned by Rick earlier.  Other sites in Lancashire include Astley Hall and Bolton-le-Sands.  Sam’s fascinating studies revealed that in the EBA  grave goods were associated more with women than men and it was women more than men whose remains were represented in Lancashire.

Ear Plug from Whitelow. Attribution: Sam Walsh

Mike Woods interested us with more local sites including Portfield Camp in the Whalley gap. There are two vallates here, its a very difficult site to discern for archaeologists due to the ground being heavily disturbed by the laying of water pipe lines. In 1966 a BA smith’s hoard including two gold items was found. Research in the 1980’s revealed the prescence of post holes suggesting structures inside the fort. It is thought to be late BA early IA. Portfield is on a route way up from Preston along the Ribble to Whalley and also at one end of the Pendle Ridgeway track from Water Meetings at Barrowford to Portfield.   Mike outlined the structure of the area of Water meetings revealed by Lidar and geophysics. Both these forts are at either end of the Hidden Valley.    Another local hillfort Castercliffe on a prominent site overlooking the Pendle area has three vallates and evidence of vitrification caused by burning, was this done by attackers or was it done by the occupants when they left the site or was it something more mundane?  Another local area at Noggarth has some intriguing grey stones that present a ladder boundary and need further investigation.

Last but not least the Chair of Pendle Archaeology Group, Catherine Rousseau Jones  outlined the digs on Calf Hill above Sabden and on the flanks of Pendle Hill – not that far from Pendleton. Towards the end of the dig in September evidence of a possible 10 ft diameter circle was discovered and included in finds was a large amount of quartz pebbles which may be significant.   Also tantalizingly and found by a metal detectorist was a BA knife,  found in the valley overlooked by the site. Intriguing indeed and the planned further excavations will hopefully help to further understanding of prehistory in the area.

What an enjoyable and amazing day this was, interesting, informative, amusing and giving us the knowledge that there are lots of people out there working hard to discover what is in the earth beneath our feet. Their work (and that of others) will further establish the significance of the  North West in being a vibrant part of prehistory in the UK and definitely challenges the preconceived idea  (dare I say of those southerners) of there being a void in the North West.

With grateful thanks to all these marvellous speakers and the people who worked hard to make the day a success.

We hope to hold another Study day on Pennine Industrialisation – this will now be later in 2020.

Did you know?

80% of IA finds are from Poulton. That the first fish bone from the IA  in Central Britain is from Poulton – 798BCk.

The colour of cremated bone attests to pyre efficiency, white bone is the result of temperatures of 600 degrees or more.

Banner Image: Burial Urn. Whitelow. Credit: Sam Walsh

What a super day that was, a dazzling array of speakers who informed and entertained the audience with a box of delights from around the North West.

First from the post was Rick Peterson who outlined developments in the Whitewell area. Fairy Holes cave with its intriguing well developed opening has a long history of occupation albeit intermittently and an early Bronze Age (EBA) cremation has been found. Onto Mosley Heights near Cliviger Gorge inbetween Burnley and Todmorden where the Walter Bennett (of literary fame) mounted a voluntary rescue operation before the site was developed for open cast mining by the NCB.  In just four weeks with the help of untrained sixth form volunteers he rescued a good number of artefacts from the EBA  cairn site, including blades, arrowheads and barbed and tongued arrows, scraper, knife a ground stone and pot boilers. Bennett found the pottery leaving the cupboard bare when Rick and Uclan students later dug and reappraised the site.  They did discover though that the collared urn made from local clay had white bits within the wall of the pot which is thought to be ground up human bone.  Thus demonstrating the commemorative aspect of cultural life in the BA.  Both of these sites demonstrate long term usage, the EBA being the last phase of habitation and both are local to us.  Rick has a blog site – Sheltering Memory – it is well worth a visit.

Prehistory Study Day. Speakers from left, Mike Woods, Kevin Grice, Rick Peterson, Sam Walsh, Catherine Rousseau- Jones and Chair Gayle Wray. Attribution: A Hardman

Next off the block was Kevin Grice a Community Archaeologist involved with uncovering Warton Crag which according to the Victoria County History is “situated in a perfect position on a prominent limestone hill” overlooking Morecambe Bay with a wonderful 360 degree  panorama. It is a site on the ‘At risk’ register it is  also a triple SI which means that the archaeology comes after the natural habitat and preservation of fauna and flora.   Research via maps, antiquarian and modern sources and Lidar revealed a triumvallete hill fort.   In 1912 Jackson found the bones of 20 humans and it was deemed a sepulcharal site. The Warton Sword now in the British Museum is an iron sword with a bronze pommel but may not be from the site.  It may be that the site wasn’t inhabited permanently but was a defensive look out or a meeting or ceremonial place.  Kevin showed images of intriguing upper ramparts, the site is well worth a visit, however be warned conditions underfoot are treacherous, the ramparts can be seen from the butterfly rides. He also demonstrated that Hutchinson’s map of 1785 was remarkable in that it closely aligns with todays Lidar images of the site.   Our attention was drawn to  other intriguing sites around Morecambe Bay for example Castle Head and Skelmore Head where BA connections have been confirmed.  There must have been links to Stanwick a huge Iron Age fort, thought to be the headquarters of Cartimandua, four miles away. An intriguing site and due for reappraisal according to Kevin.

Warton Crag IA Hillfort.
Attribution: Kevin Grice

Debbie Hallam revealed the palimpsest landscape of the Yorkshire Dales making us folk from Lancashire fair envious of the huge numbers of artefacts that the earth has revealed over the past decades. Clusters of finds around Skipton and Romabald moor number around 45,900 lithics. John Thorpe’s collection numbers around eighteen thousand and there are other smaller collections. The material was surprisingly mostly flint, followed by chert  (in one area flint was 92.4% and chert 7.6%) and the assemblages were mostly flake, blade and microliths. From Malham Tarn area came an early Neolithic leaf blade.   All finds were well above sea level and away from the valley floors. Regarding the various types of ceramics there was a link here to the collared urn with the white bits mentioned earlier on Mosley Heights where at Talthorpe  sherds were decorated with bird bone. In 2018 Backstone Beck in Ilkley gave up Groove ware and lithics and across the beck rock art was available for discovery.  Watlowes at Malham also delivered beaker pottery and jet was found in Arncliffe and Darnbrook, the nearest place where jet was found is Ireland!  How amazing is this and almost on our doorstep.


Did you know?

There is a 1576 map of Lancashire commissioned by William Cecil the most important minister in Elizabeth 1’s reign, whilst it shows Warton Crag it also shows other hills suitable for beacons to warn of the Spanish Armada demonstrating that the Invasion was not just an English Channel problem. (Kevin Grice)

That Tom Booth maintains that the genetic ancestry of some dales folk is from Anatolian Aegean neolithic farmers (modern Turkey) it is thought that these continental migrants brought different farming and cultural practices to our Mesolithic ancestors.  Apparently this is still a live debate. (Debbie Hallam)

Banner Image: Shaft hole adze. Attribution: Debbie Hallam

Peter del Strother’s excellent talk to a super audience of the Friends and guests was a fascinating insight into little known facts (to some of us anyway)  of Clitheroe.

Did you know that?

There’s a finial in the rose garden of Clitheroe Castle from the Houses of Parliament that was burnt down in 1834…

That in the 1800’s a basic map of Lancashire showed a dominant Clitheroe but no Manchester!

In 1825 Clitheroe had 2 Members of Parliament,  Manchester none, neither did they have a Mayor.

Clitheroe Castle. Credit: Small town hero. Public domain

That at election times, riots included the use of knuckle dusters (Clitheroe? the bastion of the Ribble Valley!).  The population was more settled when secret balloting was instigated.

History of Clitheroe talk. From left Beverley Warne. G Wray, Peter del Strother, Jean Hardman. Credit D. Beaumont

That unusually the tenants  in houses on the burgage plots leading from the main street were allowed to have voting rights and to pass their property on to their children or sell the rights to the property.

The earth beneath the feet of the people of Clitheroe held limestone that was the foundation of Clitheroe’s economy and at one time  provided many jobs and livelihoods  for a great many in the population and lime /cement is still in production today.

Clitheroe is the nearest northern geographical point from Manchester where limestone can be found.

That at one time there were between 500 -1,000 pack horses per day carrying lime from Clitheroe.

In the 17th century there was a great risk of fire in homes as many people had lime kilns in their back gardens (or burgages) due to embers being  carried around the village.

Shedden Pack Horse Route. Attribution: C. Rousseau Jones

Fields that have been limed show as vibrant green compared to rough brackenish moorland.

That in the Parish churchyard a gravestone records how a good man, William Southworth, a father of six, was “struck down in a moment of unforgivable passion”.

Peter also showed clips of men breaking up and handling lime, ‘elf and safety there wasn’t.  Their slender frames and the sheer hard work of their every day working lives  was a poignant reminder of why the Trade Union movement took hold in the north.


Banner Image: lime_kiln. Attribution: Alexander P. Kapp

A bright and cool autumn day saw a small but select group on the canal at Finsley Gate in Burnley. We were lucky that Mike Clarke was able to meet up with us and start us off on our walk around Finsley Gate and onto the straight ‘mile’ or Burnley Val.

Mike Clarke 2016. Courtesy of M Clarke

According to Roger Frost, “the Burnley Embankment is, perhaps, the only outstanding monument relating to transport heritage and history in our borough.  It is the largest double embankment in the country – there are other single embankments which are larger but none which have two sides.”   Others such as the Barton Swing Bridge, over the River Irwell, or the Anderton Boat Lift, may be better known nationally.

There is the most fascinating history of the importance of the canal to Burnley folk, opened in 1796 in Burnley it wasn’t until 1816 that the whole canal was open from Liverpool to Leeds. In fact it was only the discovery of coal that re routed the canal to Burnley, prior to this the canal was planned to go from Whalley to Padiham and involved with transporting lime around the area.  The use of lime  itself is interesting as the discovery of the strength of lime mortar enabled houses to be constructed of two storeys, this in turn enabled people to house a weaving loom and thus provide their livelihood. Lime was also used to paint the walls – enabled more light to be available to see to weave and also acted as a disinfectant. The provided safe and regular transport for goods mainly cotton, wool and coal and people at various times. In the early 1800’s passenger boats sailed between Blackburn and Burnley daily, the passengers must have had some fun as there was a fiddler, alcohol could be sold without a licence and this led the Canal police sergeant to say that there was riotous behaviour on Sundays!

Well there would be wouldn’t there? (To paraphrase Mandy Rice Davies..). Cotton workers spent fourteen hours a day in the mill and on Saturdays they were very lucky… they only needed to put in twelve hours work! Due to the Ten hour Act in 1847, women and children were restricted to ten hours per day, maximum 58 hours a week.   These people were our great great great grandparents, it more than literally makes you want to weep. Of course the NSPCC didn’t start until the 1880’s and then it was based in the south in London.  In some houses there was no furniture, in Colne people sat on stones or old boxes, in Burnley a one room occupancy of twelve was not unusual and sometimes the dead occupied the same room, no money meant no burial.

The Canal from Colne Road Bridge, Burnley.
Attribution: Mike Clark

Mike outlined how the Finsley Gate basin was used, it was a very busy place, full of horses and wagons and men and boats going about their business and daily lives.   At one point the canal in Burnley was more successful than the Railway to the detriment of their business.  Gradually though the successful invention of Henry Ford led to cheaper and more efficient motorised transport and  although the canals no longer thrum to tenor of work, they provide a calm and pleasurable serene way to look at many aspects of nature. (although you have to avoid looking at distractions like litter and rubbish).  There is much interesting information about the history of Burnley associated with the canal and should you wish to know more you might want to get hold of one of Mike’s books including one entitled ‘The Leeds and Liverpool Canal: A history and guide”.

Some of us were waylaid and did not finish the walk on the ‘straight mile’ having been tempted with a warming hot chocolate at a well known  store near to the canal.

Did you know?

That the Barracks in Burnley, near Gannow top, were placed there due to riots in the local population and also in other nearby Lancashire weaving towns.

That 90 foot high hoods were placed over the lime kilns next to the canal to reduce smoke nuisance in 1849.

The views from the Straight Mile of the surrounding countryside are a sight to behold. How lucky we are to be living in such lovely countryside.

Banner Image:Burnley ‘Straight Mile’ embankment. 1984. The canal looks half drained…. Credit: Mike Clarke


The first talk of the season was off to a flying start with  a super turn out to hear Nick Burton’s talk of Cromwell’s northern journey. Nick took us on a tour of Yorkshire and Lancashire tracing the route followed by Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army, in a difficult to comprehend four days, as his Parliamentary forces marched to engage with the Royalist forces marching south from Scotland into North-West England.

Pendle Hill from the Ribble Valley. Attribution: NIck Burton

Starting from Wharfedale’s moorland ridges near Knaresborough and down to the Ribble Valley Plain and the Battle of Preston, many of the places were familiar to the audience of the Friends and guests.

Oliver Cromwell. Lord Protector of the Commonwealth. Attribution: Gaspard de Crayer. Public Domain.

The death blow to the Royalist army was dealt at the Battle of Preston  1648.    The opposing forces met on the bridge over the River Ribble and this was a decisive battle that heralded the end of the English Civil Wars. Seven thousand dead royalists, five thousand captured versus five hundred Parliamentarian dead.

The talk followed  closely the route recorded in Cromwell’s own dispatches to Parliament, a route that took  in Otley, Ilkley, Skipton, Gisburn, Clitheroe, Stonyhurst, Longridge and Preston. Its difficult to envisage such large numbers of soldiers, however there were less hedgerows and enclosures in those times.  There are many stories and myths abound and the truth is unknowable one such story is that Longridge Fell was named by Cromwell who was salso aid to have slept on an oak table in a suit of armour.

Along the way we followed majestic stretches of the Rivers Wharfe, Aire, Hodder and Ribble and encountered a rural landscape of forests and parkland, medieval castles and churches, hill forts and ruined abbeys. Nick uncovered a landscape that, in places, had barely changed since the 17th century.

Did you know?

The foot regiments were provided with red coats.  This was because  Venetian red was the least expensive dye.


With the farmer’s permission, we enjoyed a lovely sunny September walk along the Ings Beck valley from Hollins Farm to Ings End. The total distance was under 1 mile, but there was plenty of industrial archaeology, wild flowers and geological specimens to discover. The purpose was to explore the remains of the Skeleron Mines and for members to discuss and interpret what they could see using the evidence they found.

Pudsey’s 16th Century Bell Pits at Skelleron. Attribution: B. Jeffery

From Pudsey’s ‘Bell-Pits’ (now known as shaft mounds), we looked at the distant views over the Ribble Valley from Longridge Fell to Penyghent and speculated, because of the very adjacent Roman Road, as to whether the Romans mined at Skeleron. There is no evidence to support such an hypothesis, but William Pudsey, Lord Bolland, did try a little coin counterfeiting and was only pardoned by Elizabeth I, because she was his godmother

There is no evidence of mining in the 17-18C’s, but the mines were briefly reopened in the 1850’s for barytes, which was used to smooth paper, paint and cloth. Miners from the Yorkshire Dales, including the Baynes family, migrated into the Rimington area to escape rural poverty. Joseph Baynes, the mine superintendent, died in 1877. It was the Cornish Mine Captain, John Borlase, who from 1877 ran the barytes, lead and zinc mine for Baynes & Colville (later York & Lancaster United Mining Co.) until 1884. The Borlase family, including 7 children, lived above Pudsey’s ‘Bell-Pits’ in an old railway carriage brought from Rimington Station.

A mine shaft at Skelleron.
Attribution: B. Jeffery

In 1884 came disaster. The Company was fined £5 for irresponsible storage of explosives, James Wiseman, the banksman, fell to his death down the 165ft shaft and John Borlase died. The Company was liquidated and James Borlase, John’s son , ex-railway contractor and new mine agent, was declared bankrupt in 1885

The 20C brought a few desultory attempts to reopen the mine, but all were short-lived. Today, the mining area is very overgrown, but sufficient evidence remains for a very pleasant walk. We found lots of interesting specimens of barytes and the lead ore called galena, but most discussion was over the various uses of mysterious overgrown bumps, ditches, adits, shafts and other holes discovered en-route. A lot of time was spent looking for the lead-tolerant Spring Sandwort on Pudsey’s Mounds, but without success, as, presumably, it was the wrong season. However, with Barrie’s expertise, lots of plants were identified.

A mysterious mine adit.
A mysterious mine adit. Attribution: B. Jeffery

Most of the walk was off public paths, so we are very grateful for the farmer’s permission to wander at will. We were in very pleasant company, who were full of questions, and we are very pleased that everybody enjoyed themselves.

Brian Jeffery and Peter del Strother


Banner Image: Examaning a lime quarry at Skelleron. Attribution: B. Jeffery

With the threat of rain, four intrepid archaeologists made one last visit to the site.

The trench was cleaned before photographing. As a result of the previous night’s rain, the differences within the trench were more visible.

CHill, Day 5 Sept. 2019. Worked quartz/flint. Attribution: C Rousseau Jones

There is an area of stone and quartz in the trench, which could be interpreted as a collapsed bank and the circular feature in the geophysical survey. The area with fewer stones could be interpreted as the interior of the circular feature. The feature is possibly dated by yesterday’s finds to prehistory. The group will need to conduct a larger scale excavation in the future to ascertain the exact nature of the feature. It is possible that we have found a prehistoric barrow.

More potential examples of worked quartz, flint and chert were found both while cleaning the trench and in the spoil while backfilling. The amount of quartz within the trench would seem to be significant. The amount of half pebbles seems to suggest human activity.

CHill Day 5. Sept 2019. Worked Chert. Attribution: C Rousseau Jones




Day 3

CHill. Day 3. Sept. 2019. Attribution: C Rousseau Jones

This afternoon on site was windy and cold but sunny. Just the right conditions for lots of enthusiastic trowelling!  After removing around half a tonne of soil, the layout of the trench is become clearer.  Work will continue tomorrow to try to define the stone feature. We will also explore the south western section of the trench.


Apart from the south western corner to the trench, there was an abundance of quartz of many sizes, and quartz within limestone. Further excavation should help us to decide whether this is significant.

Day 4

The afternoon of digging was accompanied by high winds and sunshine. Trench 8 was extended to make 3mx3m. The new section was trowelled to the same context of the rest of the trench.

CHill, Day 4.Sept. 2019. Metal Finds. Attribution: C Rousseau Jones

It is estimated that the trench contained 20% quartz. The quartz was of a variety of sizes, many split in half. There was also quartz in limestone. Most of the quartz was contained within the stone feature.

CH Day 4. Sept 2019
Attribution: C Rousseau Jones

The differences in the trench continued to be visible (see below).

Calf Hill, and especially the area of the 10m diameter geophys anomaly, has been surveyed by metal detector (thanks to Mike and John). There are no metal artefacts to explain or date the anomaly.

The area of the trench which could be interpreted as being within the circle had begun to produce potential evidence of worked chert, flint and quartz. The interpretation of the finds is tentative and will require an expert’s opinion, which will be sought in due course.

We left the site protected by the guards and intend to return tomorrow to have a last look and backfill.

Banner Image: Attribution: C Rousseau Jones






Trench 8

Day 1

On a dry and sunny day, with spectacular views of the areas around, Trench 8 (2m x 3m) was opened to continue investigating an anomaly identified on a geophysical survey in 2018.

CHill Sept 2019 Day 2. Diggers. Attribution: Mike Woods

The turf and top soil were removed by heavy trowelling. Few finds came out of this context. This is a good indication that any archaeology below this context has been untouched by later activity. At the end of day, there were hints of a stone feature in the middle of the trench. This will need further investigation.

CHill, Day 1 Sept. 2019. Modern Finds
Attribution: C Rousseau Jones


Day 2


On another dry and sunny day, work continued on Trench 8 led by Mike.   Once the trench was cleaned back and 3D photographed, it was then extended by a metre on the western side. The stone feature was found to continue in this area with a possible curve. It is also possible that the line of stones runs diagonally through the trench east-west. Analysis of the 3D photographs will give more information on this.

CHill Day 2 Sept 2019. Trench 2. Attribution: Mike Woods

The archaeology seems to support the geophysical information. There is a feature in this area which does not seem to be natural.  As a result of the information gained, the dig has been extended for 3 afternoons. This will enable us to further examine the evidence in the ground and compare this evidence with the geophys results. Plans for future excavation can then be made.   There were lots of fragments of smashed chert in the trench, with one with possible attempted flake removals.

CHill Sept 2019. Day 2 Chert 2.

Attributions re Images:   Catherine Rousseau Jones  Roger Grimshaw  Mike Woods


A group of “Friends” enjoyed a 2.5 mile walk through Victoria Park to Lomeshaye Village and then up into Nelson Centre, taking in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. It was led by Andrea Smith and entitled, “ A Weavers Walk. “

Walking where weavers walked..Atribution: A Hardman

We saw the second tallest chimney and second tallest church spire in Lancashire, mills, weavers cottages and the remains of a mill owners mansion, the Lord Nelson Inn from whence Nelson got its name, plus fine civic buildings both old and new. A well spent morning thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.

Weaving history.
Attribution: A Hardman

As the mist lifted, Calf Hill continued to cling on to its secrets for the last day of the current dig.

The dark soil was removed from the south of the trench. It seemed to run underneath Context 2, on top of the cobbled surface.The stone features were cleaned, photographed and lifted. The feature in the north of the trench seems to be a field drain.

Stone features. Day 3. August

The trench was then mattocked and trowelled. This revealed that a surface compacted with clay was lying on top of a mixed layer of rubble and soil. This was in turn lying on top of the cobbled surface.

Cobbled surface. Day 3. August

Trench 6 revealed that the cobbled surface interpreted as a road does continue in this area. However, it has been disturbed by a possible field drain and other disturbances. Loose cobbles were found in the layer above the cobbled surface. It was not possible to find the width of the cobbled surface as the southern part of the trench was covered by the stone surface and the northern part of the trench did not reach far enough. It is at least 4 metres wide (the trench was 2mx4m). The finds above the cobbled layer suggest that it is at least pre Victorian in date, probably much earlier.

All images attributed to Catherine Rousseau Jones

Blue glaze pottery. Day 3 August 2019

Trench 6 extension

The second day of the dig took place on a hot summer’s day. Although this resulted in the day being shortened, a lot of work was completed in the southern part of the trench.

The decision was made to extend the trench to reveal more of the stone feature. Typically, the spoil heap was in this direction.

2nd Track. Day 2 August

The extension revealed a stone surface with some Nori (Accrington) brick within. Further investigation discovered that the stone surface had been laid on top of the cobbled surface – a layer of bricks, then flat stones, then an area of more haphazard stone. Suggestions for this area included a track for the construction of the reservoir or army use, or an area of hard standing used for an unknown purpose. It was not possible during the current dig to find out whether the surface was in a discrete area or if it extended as a track way. The presence of Nori bricks as a base of the feature and within the feature date it to no earlier than 1887 (dates of start of brick production). The cobbled road beneath this therefore probably dates to before 1887. Production of Nori bricks ceased in 2008, but it is unlikely that the surface is of this date.

Accrington Brick. Day 2. August

Banner Image: 2 roads (from the north).   All images attributed to Catherine Rousseau Jones