Another good trip out to see the Lay Brothers dormitory one of the finest examples in the country where we were fortunate to have a peek inside to see this enormous structure that belongs to the RC English Martyrs  we were lucky also to see inside this lovely church which also contained an early mediaeval statue of of Mary believed to have come from the Abbey.  After looking at the Abbey ruins and a hearty lunch in the remains of the Abbots’ lodging Norman Thornber took us on a very well informed tour of the Cof E St Mary’s and All Saints Parish Church.  Dating from the 13th century on a possible Anglo Saxon site, this would have been the original RC church before Henry V111’s dissolution of the monastaries.

Bench end. Whalley Church. Attribution: Poliphilo

It is mentioned in the Domesday book there are three listed Anglo Saxon crosses in the churchyard.  There is so much to see and absorb in this fascinating church, it is well worth a repeat visit and spending a couple of hours getting to grip with all that is there in the interior and exterior. The misericords in particular are beautifully executed and deserve “nationwide repute” and were transferred from the Abbey after the Dissolution, like wise the choir canopy another fine example of craftsmanship.

Whalley Abbey ruins. Attribution:John Armagh

A really convivial group of people who seemed to enjoy themselves, of course the lovely spring weather helped us along too.

Did you know?

That another name for a misericord is mercy seat, when folded back the underside carving on the seat provides a small ledge for people to rest on whilst standing during long periods of prayer. Possibly up to ten hours daily.

That there were about 3 lay brothers for every monk at Whalley Abbey?

That the Abbot paid for musicians to entertain the monks whilst they ate in the Refectory.

Banner Image: Attribution: Craig Thornber




Peter and Barbara Snape gave an excellent multimedia presentation entitled the Cotton Town Chronicles. Their music and folk songs told the stories of the local cotton and mining industries in the nineteenth century.

Barbara and Peter Snape captured by Sue Wilkinson

The presentation reflected the good times and the camaraderie experienced by the workers of the Industrial Revolution, but also the grim realities of what must have felt like slavery at times. It was a brilliant synopsis of when cotton and coal were king. It felt great to experience the live music, to join in with the choruses and to sample the Lancashire parkin at refreshment time.


Banner Image: Courtesy of Peter Snape

We were pleased to welcome back Alex Whitlock, one of our members who is also a Finds Liason Officer from PAS (the Portable Antiquities Scheme).  Alex outlined the work of PAS in helping to preserve what is in the earth beneath our feet. These are finds brought in by walkers, gardeners, farmers and metal detectorists.

PAG Talk by Alex Whitlock. Feb. 2022

There is a Treasure Act, now being revised but perhaps the real treasure lies in everyday minutae that is not official treasure trove but represents the social fabric of our cultural lives. Obviously whether finds are recorded for posterity and the site too, is down to the finder of the object.    Alex stated that every find recorded is a page from the past.

Some finds are artefacts of transition, that is, there is no real definitive marking of say Iron Age (IA)and Roman periods.  An example was a very rare strap mount thought to be late IA/early Roman.  A “flashy piece of kit” of regional significance.  Another rare find was thought to be a Flesh Hook, mid Bronze Age (BA) 1300-1600 BC made of copper alloy.

In time for Valentine’s Day was a ** heart shaped copper alloy box with a gorgeously decorate millefiori type lid in red glass in a minute checker pattern.

From the Mesolithic era to the Modern era we saw plenty of fascinating objects. A beautiful mirror handle, a balance arm, hinged pin, circular lead weight, ceramic and limoges ware we saw them all.  Not forgetting Richard 11 penny, pommel head and a gold Escudo of Joanna of Castile, just as important was the cap badge from WW1 which indicated the whereabouts of the army.

Attribution: PAS

A very interesting talk and some superb finds. All the finds were from Lancashire and Cumbria but mainly Cumbria. So  let’s be on the lookout for treasure near to home…….

Banner Image: see **.   All images courtesy of Portable Antiquities Scheme

Denise North came to speak to the Friends and as usual with Denise we were treated to a well researched and entertaining account of “A century of Health in Burnley from 1815-1918”.

She spoke about the development of sanitation in the town as the population grew. The small number of inhabitants in 1815 drew its water from a well, then, as it expanded they used the river and the canal, but until the 1860’s there was no sanitation and consequently Burnley suffered very high death and infant mortality rates. With such shocking statistics something had to be done and the latter part of the 19th century saw many beneficial measures developed and put in place:-

Christopher Slater became Burnley’s first Sanitary Inspector

Research into the origins of disease got underway.

In 1871 a sewage works was built

The paving of rivers helped water to run faster and avoid stagnation

The height of mill chimneys was raised

The automatic slop water closet was replaced with the more hygienic Ducketts toilets

Antiseptic procedures were introduced in surgery

A workhouse was built in 1876, which went on to become Burnley General Hospital and Burnley Victoria Hospital was built by public subscription.

Baby Feeder. Attribution: Denise North

We learnt of the “murder bottles” which mothers used to feed their babies and how they would contract diarrhoea and how only three out of every 10 babies survived beyond the age of two. Once the cause was identified, safer feeding bottles were sold and initiatives like baby competitions were introduced to encourage cleanliness, alongside schooling for mothers.

In 1918 Burnley Council bought Bank Hall and made it into a maternity hospital.

Denise introduced us to the key names in Burnley’s health revolution and spoke of their tireless efforts to improve Burnley’s health record.

A good group of people met in the Gallery and David Taylor recounted the investigations and research into the Higham Vaccary.  Much documentary research has been carried out going back to the Court Rolls and the time of Queen Isabella Regent of England from 1327-1330.

Visit to West Close. Summer 2021. Attribution:G Wray

We explored many ditches and boundaries and unusual earthworks over the summer and autumn.  There is much good pasture which has been extensively drained and in some areas gravel extraction has taken place.  David mentioned that Fence House was a main feature in Higham Booth, now called Ashlar House. Ashlar being a finely worked stone used on prestigious houses.  The begininng of the 14th century was thought to be the zenith of the vaccaries in this area, possible due to the lessening influence of Queen Isabella.  The Trawden Vaccaries were closed down in 1232 when Thomas Earl of Lancaster revolted and his lands were confiscated.

Near Higham Spring 21.
Attribution: Ian Rowley

There is a strong link to Ighten Hill Manor in Burnley, easily seen from the Higham area. David mentioned well known tracks and holloways that connected the two areas.   The Halmote Court was originally held at Ighten Manor but also at Higham Hall.

In 1522 the Halmote Court reported on a building with a furnace or forge at the Manor House where ‘blooms’ were made into iron ingots which were used for shoeing horses and necessary equipment.   It is felt that the significance of Ighten Manor is understated.

After the round up of 2021 we moved on to discussing the programme for 2022 and discussed planned walks, visits  an  excavation and other activities.

Did you know?

Oxen from the local  vaccaries were led to Castle Rising near Kings Lynn. This would have occured in the time of Henry de Lacey who owned considerable lands in the North West and in the Lincolnshire area. He was a very notable and influential figure in the North West.

We were pleased to welcome students from the Forensic Science courses at Burnley College and take them on a coach trip around the local area.

We journeyed through time starting at Portfield  Camp, a late Bronze Age (BA) or Iron Age (IA) hillfort at the western end of the Hidden Valley which is a scheduled ancient monument.  Then down into Whalley to look at the remains of the mediaeval abbey and church. After the dissolution of the monasteries during the Reformation the site passed through a succession of owners until it was purchased by the Diocese of Blackburn. Only a very small part remains of the original abbey.

Whalley Bridge by JMW Turner. Credit: C. Hudson
Whalley Bridge by JMW Turner. Credit: C. Hudson
Whalley Bridge by JMW Turner. Credit: C. Hudson

Next we moved to a newly built housing estate outside Clitheroe where a watching brief revealed an early BA ring ditch and cremation urns. Which  was exactly what the students will be studying on reaching university.  Lime and hazel had been involved in the cremation as found in the charcoal and wood samples. Bone samples were found in a decorated collared urn.

When moving on to Downham, we stood on what was thought to be the agger of a Roman road and from there we journeyed eastwards to Brogden where the outline of the Roman road can be seen before reaching Barnoldswick.

Our last stop was at the Water Meetings at Barrowford. David Taylor joined us here to explain the layout of this late pre-historic hillfort.

So we started off at one end of the Hidden Valley in the west and finished at the eastern end.  Of course our journey was much quicker than those of the people in those ancient times.  It was a pleasure to introduce students to the lovelier aspects of the area.

What a fantastic evening we had!  The place was filled to the rafters to hear the Holllies Drumming Legend Bobby Elliott talk about his life story of how he became involved in drumming as a young local lad and rubbing shoulders with famous people as the band worked their way up the charts. And some of the bits inbetween.

Hollies Drumming Legend: Bobby Elliott

Bobby is one of our patrons and  we are grateful that he supported us at this fund raising event, the total raised was …….  (keep watching this space).

The ‘Air that we Breathed..’ was fairly fresh, nobody came with their brother and eventually we had to ‘Stop Stop Stop’, it is not known whether some people queued at the ‘Bus Stop’ on the way home.


There was a full house for Steve Irwin’s talk about the Lancashire Cotton Famine and the American Civil War and it was great to see so many people returning to their normal activities and pastimes after the worries of the last eighteen months.

Stephen has worked as the Education Officer for Blackburn Museum for the past 17 years and he entertained and enlightened us with his depth of knowledge of the 1860-62 cotton famine and how it affected the people involved in the cotton trade in East Lancashire. At that time in the UK four million people out of a population of 20 million were reliant on the cotton trade to some degree for their livelihood. The cotton was imported through Liverpool then spun and woven in Lancashire mill towns before being exported all over the world and 1859-60 were boom years for the trade. At this time 2650 cotton mills were at work in Lancs and Cheshire. Though the hours were long the pay was good and people flocked to the mill towns from rural areas, with whole families being involved in production.

Attribution: Journal of Victorian Culture’ web site. Courtesy of Stephen Irwin.

However 75% of the cotton we relied on came from America and the Civil War there caused chaos here in supplies of raw cotton.The Lancashire people had strong views about the war and although most were against slavery, they also hated the Confederate plantation owners for putting an embargo on cotton, so tended to support the Union.

The Confederates were hoping to force the British government to come into the war on their side by hitting their textile industry, but their plan failed and without our support the Union were the victors. The war led to the bankruptcy of many of the small mills in Lancashire. Local mill owners, mostly nonconformist, were on the side of their workers and helped to support them during the famine by establishing soup kitchens and food distribution centres. With no social safety net if you didn’t work, you couldn’t eat and in 1862 33% of Blackburn people were in need of this support Despite the harsh conditions no one actually starved in Blackburn and hopefully not around here either.

Soup Kitchen ticket. Courtesy of Blackburn Library, ‘Cotton Town’ local history web site

This stimulating look back at our local heritage was followed by a lively Q & A time and refreshments.

And did you know?

The old mill buildings you see today are not from the Cotton Famine era, they were built when industrialisation of the industry grew.

Before the Civil war 440, ooo people were employed in the mills and as many again in the industries supplying the mills

Output was worth £11.5 million  worth around £1.3 billion in todays money.  Cotton workers were more affluent than we imagined.

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