Pendle’s Hidden Valley Field Walk (14 April 2018) Upper Craggs

The Joy Of Flexibility – aka. The Best Laid Plans Of Mice & Men

Alex Whitlock

 

The intention had been to look at possible prehistoric features between the Nick Of Pendle and Ogden Clough. And for the first few hundred yards we stuck to that resolve. However, half our number were largely unacquainted with the area and there was a degree of curiosity about our earlier digs around Craggs. So….

Beast Of The Day – A lovely lively local scarab
(image – A Whitlock, all rights reserved)

We struck out for the old clamp kilns we dug a couple of years ago. En route we visited the Chartist Well and tried, And not for the first time, to find the track of the original track to Craggs Dole – marked on maps until very recently. Once again it eluded us but it did take us to the site of the kilns. Having sped along at 1 mph (1.6 kph), we decided to have an early picnic in the bowl of the kilns. For some it was an opportunity for a little lie down – the urge probably set in lack of motion by my potted history of our exploration. A local (above) had it heard it all before and tried to leg it (x6).

Rested we continued along the probable line of the medieval highway, passing above the site of Great Craggs. From there we took advantage of low bracken levels to look at previously uninvestigated areas. A series of one thing after anothers led us to the outline of a small building that had not been recorded before. Nearby were some enigmatic scatters of stone.

Water supply for the fold’s sheep wash pool
(image – A Whitlock, all rights reserved)

A short stroll down to look at the old sheep folds and its later system of water management (above) and we reached our point of return. We walked back to Great Craggs at a lower level than our outward journey. As we did so the sun came out and a light bulb appeared over my head. The newly discovered features were above an area that has produced worked chert (below), limestone’s version of flint, in the past. There exists the strong probability that one of these scatters of stone may have been used in prehistory.

Prehistoric chert blade fragment. Find of the day?
(image – A Whitlock, all rights reserved)

So in spite of deviating from the original plan, we did find another piece of the area’s prehistoric puzzle. Replete with new knowledge, we returned to the cars along the Victorian track from Churn Clough Res in bright sun with layers being shed on the way. There was also quite a bit of sago in the puddles….

Pendle from Hays Lane

Today’s field walk explored the valley that connects Barley and the Ogden Valley with Thorney Holme, Roughlee, and the main Hidden Valley. Starting at Barley we walked up Hay’s Lane and followed that to Thorney Holme. Running down the south side of the valley, this rather rough public highway affords famous views of Pendle (above) at one end and out to the border with Yorkshire (below) at the eastern end.
View East from Hays Lane

Walking along it we were able to look across to the other side of the valley and spot what appeared to be the remnants of an older system of fields. Dropping down into Thorney Holme we peeked over a wall to look at the former gunpowder store (below) that once supplied some of the local quarries. After crossing White Hough Water we picnic-ed in full sun near what may well have been the original site of Roughlee Hall.
Gunpowder Store, Thorney Holme

After lunch we commenced our return leg, ascending the north side of the valley before dropping down briefly to the valley floor through White Hough. On the western side of the small cluster of buildings, some a good number of centuries old, we climbed up through Bollard Wood to have a look at some of the features we had seen from Hays Lane. We found a number of artificial platforms but were unable to determine their original purposes. We also found evidence of an old road or track that predates the first OS maps of the area. It may relate to the platforms, but the again, it might not. This track runs through the features we had seen from Hays Lane. These were indeed the remnants of an older more haphazard field system. This is likely to be Medieval or earlier in date and the fields were probably stocked more than cropped.

From this field system we dropped back down to Barley to complete our circuit of the valley, some of us realising that a hat might have been a good idea after all. Before we did so we took a moment to take in the view over Barley toward the high ground hiding Newchurch to the south west (below) and Spence Moor & Ogden Clough to the west. During our walk a few pieces of worked chert were found – the oldest dating to between c.7000 and c.3500 BC. We had walked a long way back in time.

View over Barley from above Slank Laith (aka Stang Laith)

Pendle’s Hidden Valley Project – 18th February 2017 – Portfield

Alex Whitlock

This month’s fieldwalk was centred on the key feature of the western end of the Sabden Valley – Portfield. The site is private property and not open to the public so we are most thankful to the owners for their kind permission to visit. Portfield is a nationally important monument. Historic Englands record of it (List entry Number: 1013608 – accessed 18 Feb 2017) states;

“Portfield hillfort is a rare example in north west England of a slight univallate hillfort which was subsequently modified at a later date into a small multivallate hillfort. Limited excavations undertaken between the 1950s and 1970s found artefactual evidence which demonstrates that the area occupied by the monument was used from Neolithic times to medieval times, and further evidence of the nature of the settlement at the hillfort will exist.”

Planes Wood platform edge
Planes Wood platform edge

We commenced our exploration in Planes Wood which lies below Portfield and alongside the A671. The trees in the wood are comparatively young but it contains plant species regarded as ancient woodland indicators. It also contains a series of platforms (see picture above) that may be artificial and could relate to the enclosed area higher up. From the wood we worked our way onto the prehistoric site that comprises Portfield. Once there we took advantage of the lack of leaves to take in the vistas that would have been afforded to the ancient occupants. For such a low elevation the views are surprisingly distant and the site’s strategic importance becomes more apparent.

View back to Portfield (arrow) showing the ridge & furrow (pink line) in the pit
View back to Portfield (arrow) showing the ridge & furrow (pink line) in the pit

Leaving Portfield we followed a public footpath toward Read Old Bridge in order to look more closely at some features we had spotted on one of the early survey fieldwalks in January 2014. There is evidence of ancient track ways and older field patterns in the area. A solitary oak (see below) stands in a large field, marking one of a series of field boundaries that were gone by the time Victoria was crowned. There is also evidence of much earlier, possibly pre-monastic, activity. One feature left us a little gob smacked. On the summit of the hill north of Easterly farm is a huge crater. It doesn’t look right for a quarry but it could be a sand or marl pit. Whatever it is, it has some age to it as there is old ridge and furrow running through it (see above). This landscape lies in within an area whose early inhabitants must have had a connection with Portfield.

If you would like to connect with the area’s past, please come and join us. Information on membership of the Friends and about forthcoming activities can be found at https://www.foph.co.uk/whatson/

from above Easterly looking North Easterly up the valley
from above Easterly looking North Easterly up the valley

(All images by permission of A.Whitlock – All Rights Reserved)

GLOSSARY
univallate hillfort – A prehistoric enclosure surrounded by one rampart
multivallate hillfort – A prehistoric enclosure surrounded by two or more ramparts

Pendle’s Hidden Valley Project – 21st January 2017 – Fieldwalk to Deerstones

Alex Whitlock

The first field walk for 2017 took place on a clear crisp day. The sort of day you that can give you a glimpse of one of the transient beauties of the Pennines – an inversion. When these happen the low ground is covered by cloud & all you can see is the tops of the hills poking out. It gives the happy illusion of removing the modern world. We didn’t see one – we missed out by less than 24 hours.

Inversion viewed from Black Hill & looking toward Great Hameldon
Inversion viewed from Black Hill & looking toward Great Hameldon

The aim of the walk was to take advantage of the comparative lack of vegetation and the raking winter light to try and spot features that have evaded us in the warmer weather. The walk comprised a gentle(ish) ascent from the road north of Sabden to the moor above Deerstones and then a more abrupt descent to Craggs & thence back to where we started. On the way up we passed the site of a small WWII depot and Chartist Well. Despite a slow start we spotted at least three previously unnoticed features. The two shown probably relate to early post medieval quarrying at Deerstones but may be more ancient than that.

Building platform
Building platform

We will return at a later date to properly record the remains of these structures.  Maybe you would like to join us – if so please free to do so, details of future events are on the website or get in contact by email. You too could be used as a marker post.

Building or enclosure outline
Building or enclosure outline

(All images by permission of A.Whitlock – All Rights Reserved)