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 – https://finds.org.uk/ and an absolute must for amateur armchair archaeologists, you will find a box of delights.

Anyone for a walk along the River Ribble near Preston?

Did you know?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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