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.
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.
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.
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 Magaret Dickinson who gave us a splendid talk on Packhorse Bridges and routes and the packhorse trade at our AGM last year.
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.
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 or vallum.
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.
Bomber Camp aerial view.
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……
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.
“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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 – https://finds.org.uk/ 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 (www.mikepeel.net
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.
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.
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.
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’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. “
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Banner Image: 2 roads (from the north). All images attributed to Catherine Rousseau Jones
Trench 6 extension
On an uncharacteristically fine and sunny day, the group returned to Calf Hill to continue investigating the track/road. Specific questions being asked were ‘How wide is the road’ and ‘What date is the road?’. Trench 6 (see Calf Hill Season 2 Part 1 Day 3 29/5/19) was located and an extension trench 2mx4m was opened.
The turf was removed and Context 1 trowelled. This revealed an area of drainage pipe pieces compacted in an area of stone in the north eastern corner of the trench. The southern part of the trench revealed a stone feature. A darker area of soil possibly indicating a cut was also discovered.
Removal of the darker feature was begun. Underneath the feature, the cobbled road surface (similar to that found in 2018 season) was discovered again. However, the cobbled road surface does not continue in this area in the west of the trench. Further investigation is required.
Banner Image: The Diggers. All images – Attribution Catherine Rousseau Jones
During the summer holidays over 20 children with parents or grandparents spent a morning hunting for clues to the treasure in Barrowford Park.
Back at base there was the chance of a lucky dip and all the children received a golden coin and an ice cream in the cafe.
Banner Image: Successful Treasure Hunters enjoying their winnings
All permission given. 2018. Attribution A. Hardman
The sunshine finally made an appearance on the last day of the current dig. The group worked hard to solve the riddle of the trench.
Context 3 consisted of a surface of stones of varying sizes. In the west of the trench the stone seemed more compact. However, on investigation it was found that Context 3 extended through the west and east of the trench. The soil in the centre of the trench was orange and there were fewer stones. The soil in the west of the trench continued to be darker (black) which seemed to suggest burning has occurred in the vicinity.
A sondage was cut in the centre of the trench (Context 4). This allowed the depth of the deposits to be seen. Darker areas were thought to be the result of animal or plant activity. The orange of Context 4 is thought to be the natural. This knowledge will be important for future investigations.
It was decided to close the trench down. The area does not seem to relate to occupation. There were few finds in Context 3 and 4. Further investigation is required in this area.
There were very few finds on Day 3. There were some pieces of chert, one of which may have been worked. A small fragment of slate was found, which has not been found in other areas of the site.
All images attributed to Catherine Rousseau Jones
Mist and drizzle welcomed us to Calf Hill for the second day of digging. Work was continued in Trench 7, working through Context 1 and Context 2.
The grass roots were removed from the centre and east of the trench by light mattocking. Following this the trench was trowelled until Context 2 began to be seen. Mattocking was again used in the east of the trench to remove loose stones. The nature of the trench seems to have different areas. The western side has dark soil and compacted stones. The centre shows more orange soil with few stones. The east still has some large stones and an area of burning.
The east of the trench continued to produce glass as well as a small piece of brown glaze pot. The glass seems to have some writing on it with “ss” visible and also wavy line decoration. A metal object came from the west of the trench. Context 2 provided our first chert of the dig, with a large piece coming from the feature in the west of the trench.
All images. Attribution: Catherine Rousseau Jones
27th July 2019
Clouds, showers and increasingly heavy rain accompanied the start of our summer dig on Calf Hill. Trench 7 (2m x 6m) was opened to investigate an anomaly identified on a geophysical survey in 2018.
Following removal of the turf, the group worked on trowelling Context 1. The trench showed differences in soil colour between the east and west of the trench. The western side of the trench showed darker soil with a large number of quartz inclusions. The eastern side of the trench showed more sandy soil. Trowelling in this side of the trench was made difficult by the large number of grass roots.
Work was halted before 2pm due to increasingly heavy rain.
Context 1 provided a range of dateable finds which have been absent in other areas of the site. From the finds, this level can be loosely dated to after 1800 and before 1971. Further investigation into the finds is required.
These two coins give name to the Tupenny Dig of July 2019.
All images attributed to C. Rousseau Jones
On a hot summer’s day (yes, we do occasionally get those up north), a small group visited the excavation of a series of First World War practice trenches located within Long Wood, an area of ancient semi-natural woodland located in Copley, Calderdale, West Yorkshire.
The site was initially recorded during winter 2017 as part of the National Lottery Heritage Funded, Pennine Prospects led Celebrating Our Woodland Heritage project. However, very little is known about when the trenches were formed, and who excavated them.
We enjoyed a guided tour of the trenches by Chris Atkinson, and found some similarities with our excavations. We were also interested by the old trackway crossing the wood.
Return journey via Todmorden for some much needed tea and cake.
Thanks to Chris for enabling our visit. Thanks to Roger for chauffeuring us in air conditioned luxury.
C.Rousseau-Jones July 2019
Banner Image: Excavation at Long Wood Copley. Attribution: C. Rousseau Jones
Our summer event, Flowers and Voices was held at Pendle Heritage Centre.
Dave from Conservation Services showed us how to make lime mortar. (5 parts sand to 2 parts lime and not much water). He used the mortar on the old garden wall (which is in great need of repointing) and applied it between the stones, not strap pointing.
Later, medical herbalist Barbara Wilkinson led us round the beautiful walled garden, stopping beside herbs and explaining their use. Pausing beside loosestrife she commented that yellow flowers attract insects, so wearing yellow clothes invites their attention! Also to stop insects entering the house hang sprays of tansy (the next herb we looked at) by doors and windows.
Meanwhile in the barn Adrian Hartley was playing a keyboard and enthusiastically singing Lancashire dialect songs.
In the afternoon we were entertained by Colne Orpheus male voice choir. Established in 1886, the Orpheus claims to have the longest unbroken history of any English male voice choir. The programme contained “I dreamed a dream”, now associated with Susan Boyle’s performance on “Britain’s got Talent” ten years ago. (How time doth fly), “Bridge over Troubled Water”, “76 trombones” and several others. They are recruiting new members: look at their website if interested.
During the musical entertainment in the barn people were tucking into tea and cakes.
A beekeeper explained how the hive is constructed. Apparently the smoker, used to drive the bees lower down the hive so that the honey combs can be harvested, is difficult to keep alight using smouldering cardboard, so he introduces a small piece of firelighter is introduced, but care is needed as it could produce a flame thrower instead!
I was introduced to the “Bowland Bard” Mick Neary who recited to me a moving poem about First World War Lancashire soldiers.
There were lots of stalls with an environmental slant including our very own Pendle Archaeology Group. PAG’s stall featured a model of the area of the latest dig- a papier-mâché wonder. The tombola stall was quite popular. A young lad won a bottle of wine which was quickly confiscated by his father!
All in all a very enjoyable day.
Banner Image: Herbalist, Barbara Wilkinson explains the medicinal use of common garden plants in the Heritage Garden. Attribution: A Hardman
On a sunny day, the group set off from Anna’s Café to explore the hillsides and valley of Weir, our main objective being the mysterious Broadclough Dykes. Sites in the area date from prehistory to the industrial revolution and beyond.
Weir contains houses of many dates. It allowed the group to see water-shot coursing and find out about how it can be used to date houses. The group were interested to learn about the Co-operative store and the village’s 1918 war memorial1.
Walking past Weir Hotel, the group climbed to the old turnpike road. The road dates from 1755 and tolls were paid on the road until 18802. There are interesting earthworks on both sides of the road, including the site of quarry.
We continued on a rarely used footpath to Broadclough Dykes. The Dykes were described by Dr Whitaker in 18183 as “an entrenchment to which no tradition is annexed that may serve to ascertain either its antiquity, or the end it was designed to answer.” Although the group did not come to a conclusion about the date or use of the earthwork, we did decide that they are spectacular and very interesting.
Leaving Broadclough Dykes, we passed remains of Broadclough Colliery Coal Mine and had a good view of Broadclough Mill. The Grade 2 Broadclough Mill was built in 1824 as successful water powered woollen mill which became steam powered by the 1830s, becoming a cotton spinning mill following enlargement2.
There were more remains to be viewed on Dog Pits Lane. The old bridge is Grade 2 listed and said to date from the 18th century or before. The remains of Dog Pits Mill, a water mill predating Broadclough Mill, could be seen amongst the trees.
Following a path past farms of different periods, the group returned on Weir Lane to Anna’s Café for further refreshments.
PAG would like to thank the landowners who allowed the group access to Broadclough Dykes, which are in area between footpaths and therefore not usually accessible.