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.

Finds

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

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.

Trench. Day 1. August

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.

Pot base. Day 1. Calf Hill. August

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.

Everyone a winner on the Treasure Hunt

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.

Trench 7, context 3. July 2019, Day 3

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.

Worked Chert. July 2019. Day 3

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.

Finds

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