Thanks to John and Anne Dodd we had another successful Quiz night. And the group that won it were…. the LYW’s or last years winners – Graham, Sue, Gillian, Iain and Pat, well there were five of them! We started off with a round Lancashire quiz, we had anagrams of lancashire dishes – which were real brain teasers.
What can be more Lancashire than an enjoyable meat and potato pie supper?
The challenge is on for next year, will the LYW’s remain as the winners in 2020 ?
Why lines were built and why they were shut have been of great interest to our speaker for much of his life and on Thursday night Alan Young came to talk about his hobby. Being a Geordie he first became interested in railway lines and stations in Heaton near Newcastle, that was in 1972 however by 1981 there was nothing left of this branch as it had been replaced by the metro.
Of course we lose railway stations usually when the lines are closed down and to date there are over 2,000 stations that have been closed down since they were built. Some of these would have been built in the mid 1800’s. Many different companies competed for business whether this was for transporting goods such as coal or the passengers that came along afterwards, apparently South Wales was a tangle of railways (what with the coal mines an’
all boyo). The advent of trams and the motor car and then double decker buses reduced passenger transport and probably goods transport too and around 1921 there was surge of railway closures. However it was Mr Beechings plan “The Reshaping of British Railways” in 1963 that led to the nine thousand stations being reduced to two thousand. His plan was to stem large losses as increasing competition from road transport reduced income for the railways. Beeching’s cuts decimated some railways in the local area such as the Colne to Skipton and the line to Fleetwood. We are lucky that the Burnley or Preston to Colne line is still open apparently there is a campaign afoot to reopen the Colne to Skipton line.
Piquantly Beeching didn’t get all his sums right. Originally the line from Skipton to Leeds was planned for closure, however it remains open and is apparently the most profitable route outside SW England! Alongside the closures some lines were identified for significant investment.
Alan mentioned two private lines, one to Whittingham Hospital near Preston where patients and staff used the line and one at Holme Chapel in Cliviger used by the family at Holme Hall. The Townley Arms at Longridge was a public house attached to the station there and was restored in 2008 as a heritage and community centre by Heritage lottery funding. Of course the other Townley Arms that is familiar to us lies on the Bacup road in Cliviger. Another well restored building is the station master’s house at Conishead Priory on the old line to Barrow.
It was poignant to be reminded of the small stations or halts that were lost locally such as Bott Lane, Padiham, Simonstone, Reedley Halt and New Hall street stations, some of them barely more than a post and some hard standing.
Did you know?
That Manchester Central was known as the St Pancras of the North.
That originally the station at Blackpool North was to close and the Central station was to keep open but the council had other ideas and applied to keep Blackpool North open, the Central and South Stations closing. The land at Central station has still not been developed but provides visitor parking and a good route straight into the town centre following the old railway line.
That Bott Lane the nearest station to Barrowford near the old Nelson Grammar school was heaving with people whenever there was a match at Turf Moor in Burnley.
That Portsmouth station near Todmorden (now defunct) apparently got its name from a high ranking seaman who on retiring from the the navy bought some fields in the area and named them after naval bases.
That we were lucky to have in the audience that night Eddie Bobrowski who is very well known for his excellent photos of trains in the UK and we were lucky to see one of his excellent photos.
That without the legacy of John Mann who left thousands of photos, which were nearly lost, we would not be able today to view so much of the past history of the railways.
Banner Image: Withnell Station, 17th April 1077. Attribution: Alan Young.
Kevin Cootes proved to us that Cheshire was not ‘a black hole’ in the Iron Age nor is it ‘not well known archaeologically’. After outlining nearby settlements, Chester amphitheatre and Meols for example he expanded on the Poulton site. This in an ideal position on a plateau overlooking a rich agricultural flood plain and near to the motorways of history. He riveted our attention on its multi stage occupancy, evidence of Roman habitation and work shops overlying Iron Age roundhouses of which there were plenty.
The site – Chapel Field – was excavated at the request of the farmer who had made an accidental discovery of decorated stone, showing a small mediaeval chapel. Unsurprisingly graves were found but astonishingly these numbered 950 the largest burial excavation in Britain. Roman pottery was found in 14th/15th C. graves which led to an assessment of the landscape which was crammed with gulleys which gave up thousands of Roman finds including industrial waste. Unheard of previously and especially in rural Cheshire. Poulton contains the largest number of Iron Age (IA) roundhouses in lowland NW England in one place, there were ditches, multiple post holes, five thousand finds including lithics. The ditches are very deep 1.5M, 1K plus animal bones were found including traction animals. The cattle and sheep were found to be raised in Poulton. The first antler working was also found here. Roundhouse 3 turned out to be the most intriguing, with two dog burials apparently an IA tradition. A few human bones were also found here as scraps perhaps thrown in with the rubbish. The site was virtually aceramic but one pot containing 10kg salt was found a large amount but useful in preserving food. Industrial waste included iron, copper mould for dress pins, an iron adze was also found which may have been made on the site. Stone tools were also revealed. Kevin outlined the environmental vegetation 45% of this was found in Roundhouse 3 and it possible that this may have been part of a closing down feast. The findings over decades from this fascinating multiperiod site is part of a very vibrant historical story in North West lowland England.
Sam Walsh is currently working on remains for Kurdistan from 7,700 years ago. She explained what the study of osteology reveals about past humans such as age at death, sex, health, disease, trauma, burial practices and preservation of bodies. Mostly in the North west people in the BA were cremated. The colour of the bone, fragmentation, size of fragments and fracture patterns all tell the own story. Burials in the BA were commonly in round barrows either singly or in groups, cremation became more common later in the BA where remains were put in urns which were then buried.
Liffs Low and Arbor Low in Derbyshire and Winterbourne near Stoke are well known sites. Cairns were also used such as the one at Whitelow Ramsbottom, where most of the remains have been lost but where there were 12 burials, one in a patterned urn dating 2K to 1700BC. More locally is Carriers Croft at Pendleton excavated by John Hallam in the 60’s and 70’s revealing large fragments of well preserved bone in two urns. In urn three was a gold object the only gold found in Lancashire associated with burials. Other sites where human remains can be found include stake and post hut circles such as at Poulton and the Bleasdale circle and places such as Little Meg and caves such as Fairy Holes that was mentioned by Rick earlier. Other sites in Lancashire include Astley Hall and Bolton-le-Sands. Sam’s fascinating studies revealed that in the EBA grave goods were associated more with women than men and it was women more than men whose remains were represented in Lancashire.
Mike Woods interested us with more local sites including Portfield Camp in the Whalley gap. There are two vallates here, its a very difficult site to discern for archaeologists due to the ground being heavily disturbed by the laying of water pipe lines. In 1966 a BA smith’s hoard including two gold items was found. Research in the 1980’s revealed the prescence of post holes suggesting structures inside the fort. It is thought to be late BA early IA. Portfield is on a route way up from Preston along the Ribble to Whalley and also at one end of the Pendle Ridgeway track from Water Meetings at Barrowford to Portfield. Mike outlined the structure of the area of Water meetings revealed by Lidar and geophysics. Both these forts are at either end of the Hidden Valley. Another local hillfort Castercliffe on a prominent site overlooking the Pendle area has three vallates and evidence of vitrification caused by burning, was this done by attackers or was it done by the occupants when they left the site or was it something more mundane? Another local area at Noggarth has some intriguing grey stones that present a ladder boundary and need further investigation.
Last but not least the Chair of Pendle Archaeology Group, Catherine Rousseau Jones outlined the digs on Calf Hill above Sabden and on the flanks of Pendle Hill – not that far from Pendleton. Towards the end of the dig in September evidence of a possible 10 ft diameter circle was discovered and included in finds was a large amount of quartz pebbles which may be significant. Also tantalizingly and found by a metal detectorist was a BA knife, found in the valley overlooked by the site. Intriguing indeed and the planned further excavations will hopefully help to further understanding of prehistory in the area.
What an enjoyable and amazing day this was, interesting, informative, amusing and giving us the knowledge that there are lots of people out there working hard to discover what is in the earth beneath our feet. Their work (and that of others) will further establish the significance of the North West in being a vibrant part of prehistory in the UK and definitely challenges the preconceived idea (dare I say of those southerners) of there being a void in the North West.
With grateful thanks to all these marvellous speakers and the people who worked hard to make the day a success.
We hope to hold another Study day on Pennine Industrialisation – this will now be later in 2020.
Did you know?
80% of IA finds are from Poulton. That the first fish bone from the IA in Central Britain is from Poulton – 798BCk.
The colour of cremated bone attests to pyre efficiency, white bone is the result of temperatures of 600 degrees or more.
Banner Image: Burial Urn. Whitelow. Credit: Sam Walsh
What a super day that was, a dazzling array of speakers who informed and entertained the audience with a box of delights from around the North West.
First from the post was Rick Peterson who outlined developments in the Whitewell area. Fairy Holes cave with its intriguing well developed opening has a long history of occupation albeit intermittently and an early Bronze Age (EBA) cremation has been found. Onto Mosley Heights near Cliviger Gorge inbetween Burnley and Todmorden where the Walter Bennett (of literary fame) mounted a voluntary rescue operation before the site was developed for open cast mining by the NCB. In just four weeks with the help of untrained sixth form volunteers he rescued a good number of artefacts from the EBA cairn site, including blades, arrowheads and barbed and tongued arrows, scraper, knife a ground stone and pot boilers. Bennett found the pottery leaving the cupboard bare when Rick and Uclan students later dug and reappraised the site. They did discover though that the collared urn made from local clay had white bits within the wall of the pot which is thought to be ground up human bone. Thus demonstrating the commemorative aspect of cultural life in the BA. Both of these sites demonstrate long term usage, the EBA being the last phase of habitation and both are local to us. Rick has a blog site – Sheltering Memory – it is well worth a visit.
Next off the block was Kevin Grice a Community Archaeologist involved with uncovering Warton Crag which according to the Victoria County History is “situated in a perfect position on a prominent limestone hill” overlooking Morecambe Bay with a wonderful 360 degree panorama. It is a site on the ‘At risk’ register it is also a triple SI which means that the archaeology comes after the natural habitat and preservation of fauna and flora. Research via maps, antiquarian and modern sources and Lidar revealed a triumvallete hill fort. In 1912 Jackson found the bones of 20 humans and it was deemed a sepulcharal site. The Warton Sword now in the British Museum is an iron sword with a bronze pommel but may not be from the site. It may be that the site wasn’t inhabited permanently but was a defensive look out or a meeting or ceremonial place. Kevin showed images of intriguing upper ramparts, the site is well worth a visit, however be warned conditions underfoot are treacherous, the ramparts can be seen from the butterfly rides. He also demonstrated that Hutchinson’s map of 1785 was remarkable in that it closely aligns with todays Lidar images of the site. Our attention was drawn to other intriguing sites around Morecambe Bay for example Castle Head and Skelmore Head where BA connections have been confirmed. There must have been links to Stanwick a huge Iron Age fort, thought to be the headquarters of Cartimandua, four miles away. An intriguing site and due for reappraisal according to Kevin.
Debbie Hallam revealed the palimpsest landscape of the Yorkshire Dales making us folk from Lancashire fair envious of the huge numbers of artefacts that the earth has revealed over the past decades. Clusters of finds around Skipton and Romabald moor number around 45,900 lithics. John Thorpe’s collection numbers around eighteen thousand and there are other smaller collections. The material was surprisingly mostly flint, followed by chert (in one area flint was 92.4% and chert 7.6%) and the assemblages were mostly flake, blade and microliths. From Malham Tarn area came an early Neolithic leaf blade. All finds were well above sea level and away from the valley floors. Regarding the various types of ceramics there was a link here to the collared urn with the white bits mentioned earlier on Mosley Heights where at Talthorpe sherds were decorated with bird bone. In 2018 Backstone Beck in Ilkley gave up Groove ware and lithics and across the beck rock art was available for discovery. Watlowes at Malham also delivered beaker pottery and jet was found in Arncliffe and Darnbrook, the nearest place where jet was found is Ireland! How amazing is this and almost on our doorstep.
Did you know?
There is a 1576 map of Lancashire commissioned by William Cecil the most important minister in Elizabeth 1’s reign, whilst it shows Warton Crag it also shows other hills suitable for beacons to warn of the Spanish Armada demonstrating that the Invasion was not just an English Channel problem. (Kevin Grice)
That Tom Booth maintains that the genetic ancestry of some dales folk is from Anatolian Aegean neolithic farmers (modern Turkey) it is thought that these continental migrants brought different farming and cultural practices to our Mesolithic ancestors. Apparently this is still a live debate. (Debbie Hallam)
Peter del Strother’s excellent talk to a super audience of the Friends and guests was a fascinating insight into little known facts (to some of us anyway) of Clitheroe.
Did you know that?
There’s a finial in the rose garden of Clitheroe Castle from the Houses of Parliament that was burnt down in 1834…
That in the 1800’s a basic map of Lancashire showed a dominant Clitheroe but no Manchester!
In 1825 Clitheroe had 2 Members of Parliament, Manchester none, neither did they have a Mayor.
That at election times, riots included the use of knuckle dusters (Clitheroe? the bastion of the Ribble Valley!). The population was more settled when secret balloting was instigated.
That unusually the tenants in houses on the burgage plots leading from the main street were allowed to have voting rights and to pass their property on to their children or sell the rights to the property.
The earth beneath the feet of the people of Clitheroe held limestone that was the foundation of Clitheroe’s economy and at one time provided many jobs and livelihoods for a great many in the population and lime /cement is still in production today.
Clitheroe is the nearest northern geographical point from Manchester where limestone can be found.
That at one time there were between 500 -1,000 pack horses per day carrying lime from Clitheroe.
In the 17th century there was a great risk of fire in homes as many people had lime kilns in their back gardens (or burgages) due to embers being carried around the village.
Fields that have been limed show as vibrant green compared to rough brackenish moorland.
That in the Parish churchyard a gravestone records how a good man, William Southworth, a father of six, was “struck down in a moment of unforgivable passion”.
Peter also showed clips of men breaking up and handling lime, ‘elf and safety there wasn’t. Their slender frames and the sheer hard work of their every day working lives was a poignant reminder of why the Trade Union movement took hold in the north.
Banner Image: lime_kiln. Attribution: Alexander P. Kapp
A bright and cool autumn day saw a small but select group on the canal at Finsley Gate in Burnley. We were lucky that Mike Clarke was able to meet up with us and start us off on our walk around Finsley Gate and onto the straight ‘mile’ or Burnley Val.
According to Roger Frost, “the Burnley Embankment is, perhaps, the only outstanding monument relating to transport heritage and history in our borough. It is the largest double embankment in the country – there are other single embankments which are larger but none which have two sides.” Others such as the Barton Swing Bridge, over the River Irwell, or the Anderton Boat Lift, may be better known nationally.
There is the most fascinating history of the importance of the canal to Burnley folk, opened in 1796 in Burnley it wasn’t until 1816 that the whole canal was open from Liverpool to Leeds. In fact it was only the discovery of coal that re routed the canal to Burnley, prior to this the canal was planned to go from Whalley to Padiham and involved with transporting lime around the area. The use of lime itself is interesting as the discovery of the strength of lime mortar enabled houses to be constructed of two storeys, this in turn enabled people to house a weaving loom and thus provide their livelihood. Lime was also used to paint the walls – enabled more light to be available to see to weave and also acted as a disinfectant. The provided safe and regular transport for goods mainly cotton, wool and coal and people at various times. In the early 1800’s passenger boats sailed between Blackburn and Burnley daily, the passengers must have had some fun as there was a fiddler, alcohol could be sold without a licence and this led the Canal police sergeant to say that there was riotous behaviour on Sundays!
Well there would be wouldn’t there? (To paraphrase Mandy Rice Davies..). Cotton workers spent fourteen hours a day in the mill and on Saturdays they were very lucky… they only needed to put in twelve hours work! Due to the Ten hour Act in 1847, women and children were restricted to ten hours per day, maximum 58 hours a week. These people were our great great great grandparents, it more than literally makes you want to weep. Of course the NSPCC didn’t start until the 1880’s and then it was based in the south in London. In some houses there was no furniture, in Colne people sat on stones or old boxes, in Burnley a one room occupancy of twelve was not unusual and sometimes the dead occupied the same room, no money meant no burial.
Mike outlined how the Finsley Gate basin was used, it was a very busy place, full of horses and wagons and men and boats going about their business and daily lives. At one point the canal in Burnley was more successful than the Railway to the detriment of their business. Gradually though the successful invention of Henry Ford led to cheaper and more efficient motorised transport and although the canals no longer thrum to tenor of work, they provide a calm and pleasurable serene way to look at many aspects of nature. (although you have to avoid looking at distractions like litter and rubbish). There is much interesting information about the history of Burnley associated with the canal and should you wish to know more you might want to get hold of one of Mike’s books including one entitled ‘The Leeds and Liverpool Canal: A history and guide”.
Some of us were waylaid and did not finish the walk on the ‘straight mile’ having been tempted with a warming hot chocolate at a well known store near to the canal.
Did you know?
That the Barracks in Burnley, near Gannow top, were placed there due to riots in the local population and also in other nearby Lancashire weaving towns.
That 90 foot high hoods were placed over the lime kilns next to the canal to reduce smoke nuisance in 1849.
The views from the Straight Mile of the surrounding countryside are a sight to behold. How lucky we are to be living in such lovely countryside.
Banner Image:Burnley ‘Straight Mile’ embankment. 1984. The canal looks half drained…. Credit: Mike Clarke
The first talk of the season was off to a flying start with a super turn out to hear Nick Burton’s talk of Cromwell’s northern journey. Nick took us on a tour of Yorkshire and Lancashire tracing the route followed by Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army, in a difficult to comprehend four days, as his Parliamentary forces marched to engage with the Royalist forces marching south from Scotland into North-West England.
Starting from Wharfedale’s moorland ridges near Knaresborough and down to the Ribble Valley Plain and the Battle of Preston, many of the places were familiar to the audience of the Friends and guests.
The death blow to the Royalist army was dealt at the Battle of Preston 1648. The opposing forces met on the bridge over the River Ribble and this was a decisive battle that heralded the end of the English Civil Wars. Seven thousand dead royalists, five thousand captured versus five hundred Parliamentarian dead.
The talk followed closely the route recorded in Cromwell’s own dispatches to Parliament, a route that took in Otley, Ilkley, Skipton, Gisburn, Clitheroe, Stonyhurst, Longridge and Preston. Its difficult to envisage such large numbers of soldiers, however there were less hedgerows and enclosures in those times. There are many stories and myths abound and the truth is unknowable one such story is that Longridge Fell was named by Cromwell who was salso aid to have slept on an oak table in a suit of armour.
Along the way we followed majestic stretches of the Rivers Wharfe, Aire, Hodder and Ribble and encountered a rural landscape of forests and parkland, medieval castles and churches, hill forts and ruined abbeys. Nick uncovered a landscape that, in places, had barely changed since the 17th century.
Did you know?
The foot regiments were provided with red coats. This was because Venetian red was the least expensive dye.
With the farmer’s permission, we enjoyed a lovely sunny September walk along the Ings Beck valley from Hollins Farm to Ings End. The total distance was under 1 mile, but there was plenty of industrial archaeology, wild flowers and geological specimens to discover. The purpose was to explore the remains of the Skeleron Mines and for members to discuss and interpret what they could see using the evidence they found.
From Pudsey’s ‘Bell-Pits’ (now known as shaft mounds), we looked at the distant views over the Ribble Valley from Longridge Fell to Penyghent and speculated, because of the very adjacent Roman Road, as to whether the Romans mined at Skeleron. There is no evidence to support such an hypothesis, but William Pudsey, Lord Bolland, did try a little coin counterfeiting and was only pardoned by Elizabeth I, because she was his godmother
There is no evidence of mining in the 17-18C’s, but the mines were briefly reopened in the 1850’s for barytes, which was used to smooth paper, paint and cloth. Miners from the Yorkshire Dales, including the Baynes family, migrated into the Rimington area to escape rural poverty. Joseph Baynes, the mine superintendent, died in 1877. It was the Cornish Mine Captain, John Borlase, who from 1877 ran the barytes, lead and zinc mine for Baynes & Colville (later York & Lancaster United Mining Co.) until 1884. The Borlase family, including 7 children, lived above Pudsey’s ‘Bell-Pits’ in an old railway carriage brought from Rimington Station.
In 1884 came disaster. The Company was fined £5 for irresponsible storage of explosives, James Wiseman, the banksman, fell to his death down the 165ft shaft and John Borlase died. The Company was liquidated and James Borlase, John’s son , ex-railway contractor and new mine agent, was declared bankrupt in 1885
The 20C brought a few desultory attempts to reopen the mine, but all were short-lived. Today, the mining area is very overgrown, but sufficient evidence remains for a very pleasant walk. We found lots of interesting specimens of barytes and the lead ore called galena, but most discussion was over the various uses of mysterious overgrown bumps, ditches, adits, shafts and other holes discovered en-route. A lot of time was spent looking for the lead-tolerant Spring Sandwort on Pudsey’s Mounds, but without success, as, presumably, it was the wrong season. However, with Barrie’s expertise, lots of plants were identified.
Most of the walk was off public paths, so we are very grateful for the farmer’s permission to wander at will. We were in very pleasant company, who were full of questions, and we are very pleased that everybody enjoyed themselves.
Brian Jeffery and Peter del Strother
Banner Image: Examaning a lime quarry at Skelleron. Attribution: B. Jeffery
With the threat of rain, four intrepid archaeologists made one last visit to the site.
The trench was cleaned before photographing. As a result of the previous night’s rain, the differences within the trench were more visible.
There is an area of stone and quartz in the trench, which could be interpreted as a collapsed bank and the circular feature in the geophysical survey. The area with fewer stones could be interpreted as the interior of the circular feature. The feature is possibly dated by yesterday’s finds to prehistory. The group will need to conduct a larger scale excavation in the future to ascertain the exact nature of the feature. It is possible that we have found a prehistoric barrow.
More potential examples of worked quartz, flint and chert were found both while cleaning the trench and in the spoil while backfilling. The amount of quartz within the trench would seem to be significant. The amount of half pebbles seems to suggest human activity.
This afternoon on site was windy and cold but sunny. Just the right conditions for lots of enthusiastic trowelling! After removing around half a tonne of soil, the layout of the trench is become clearer. Work will continue tomorrow to try to define the stone feature. We will also explore the south western section of the trench.
Apart from the south western corner to the trench, there was an abundance of quartz of many sizes, and quartz within limestone. Further excavation should help us to decide whether this is significant.
The afternoon of digging was accompanied by high winds and sunshine. Trench 8 was extended to make 3mx3m. The new section was trowelled to the same context of the rest of the trench.
It is estimated that the trench contained 20% quartz. The quartz was of a variety of sizes, many split in half. There was also quartz in limestone. Most of the quartz was contained within the stone feature.
The differences in the trench continued to be visible (see below).
Calf Hill, and especially the area of the 10m diameter geophys anomaly, has been surveyed by metal detector (thanks to Mike and John). There are no metal artefacts to explain or date the anomaly.
The area of the trench which could be interpreted as being within the circle had begun to produce potential evidence of worked chert, flint and quartz. The interpretation of the finds is tentative and will require an expert’s opinion, which will be sought in due course.
We left the site protected by the guards and intend to return tomorrow to have a last look and backfill.
Banner Image: Attribution: C Rousseau Jones
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