If you will pardon the pun I must say that the aerial imagery element of the Upland project has got off to a flying start!

I fully intended to have this first report up and running days ago but time has escaped me - the number of sponsorship uptakes has taken me slightly by surprise and this has meant that a lot of LIDAR data has had to be ordered,  and in certain file formats, re-rendered.

LIDAR tiles are supplied to sponsors in simple .jpg format - these are 1 metre resolution DTM images covering 1 square kilometre. The data are also available in ASCII format and at resolutions of 15cm, 20cm and 2 metres. However, the finer resolutions are not available for our area and the 2 metre resolution is more suited to larger survey area.

We are lucky, in fact, to have access to the 1m LIDAR data as I had an enquiry yesterday from archaeologists in neighbouring Calderdale who are keen for us to extend our survey over Boulsworth Hill into Walshaw and Wadsworth. Unfortunately there is a whacking great hole in the LIDAR grid net immediately to the east of our survey grid and this has put an end to that idea.


Data Results

To date all of the acquired LIDAR images have yielded results - some contain more obvious evidence of early occupation than others and this is to be expected. The moorland areas around Boulsworth Hill are covered with a peat layer up to 10 metres in depth and, of course, this has obliterated any prehistoric settlement settlement evidence that might otherwise have shown up on the LIDAR. This is not to say that there is no evidence - a number of flint working sites are scattered across the western face of Boulsworth and these are taken to be Mesolithic and Neolithic knapping workshops. This means that there would be settlements of sorts nearby, probably in the shape of transient summer encampments. In some cases we can still see the remaining hollow features of trackways heading onto the hill and, where they are not taken to be modern farm access tracks onto the sheep grazing, it is possible that these hollow ways were ancient routes between the camps now long buried metres below the ground surface.

As the Mesolithic (c 8,000bc to 4,000bc) hunter gatherers began to be replaced by the new culture of the Neolithic (c 4,000bc to 2,000bc) the moors began to be increasingly cleared of brush for semi-permanent farming settlement. The earlier summer camp sites were replaced by more permanent sites lower down the valley and this is where we begin to see the landscape evidence showing up on LIDAR.

When all of the LIDAR grids have been allocated it will be possible to assess the ancient landscape as a single entity where individual settlements might have been linked within the landscape to other settlements and possible ritual sites.

Even at this early stage we are beginning to reap the rewards of the LIDAR technology in assessment of the Great Marsden upland catchment area. The laser-induced images now provide colour scape where the darker colours  represent high ground and lighter colours the lower areas - scaping at individual contour level is not yet available but this is not a problem for our purposes.                                                      

LIDAR grid centred on Tile D3  SD895374

18 LIDAR images combined. Stars represent known and apparent defensive / settlement sites - the square shows the location of Knave Hill (Walton Spire) at the centre of the proposed defensive ring.

Oblique rendering of Knave Hill (grid D3) with ditch haching - the cross represents the stone monolith upon which the Rev. Walton erected his monument now known as Walton Spire .

Knave Hill is a fascinating feature dominating the landscape and visible for many miles. It is possible that the standing stone that is now surmounted by the modern cross dates to the Neolithic and was erected to mark the ritual importance of the hill upon which it stands.

The hill is unusual in that it changes shape according to which compass point it is viewed from. From the Pendle area the hill is a perfect conical shape with the monument placed exactly at the apex. Further, from this vantage the hill, and its extended slopes, mimic the slopes of Boulsworth Hill in the background - in other words the hill fits within the landscape.

From the Boulsworth moors the hill upon which the stone stands no longer has the appearance of a conical mass - it is masked by the neighbouring hill and this has always puzzled me. However, the LIDAR image shows clearly that Knave Hill actually has two distinct summits.

Knave Hill shares a name element with the Bronze Age burial mound, known as Jeppe Knave Grave, on the slopes of Pendle Hill. The Knave meaning is usually taken as a reference to a wrong-doer or rascal. In the case of Knave Hill there could be alternative explanations. In the Old English cnafa there is an element shared with the Old High German knabo, the German knabe, the Old Norse knapi, and the Dutch word knaap all with the same meaning of boy, youth, servant. In Middle High German knappe means a young squire or shield-bearer and, curiously, the origin of this may have been in the meaning of stick, piece of wood. There is also the consideration that in Old English the word nave meant the hub of a wheel whereby nafu had evolved from the early German nabo which appears to have been connected with navel on the notion of centrality.

We have, then, a very feasible description of the Knave Hill site having been a central and extremely important place to the occupying culture and/or local tribes of the wider area. The fact that there are two large probable burial mounds at the eastern foot of the hill, and a third mound immediately to the south, strongly suggests a ritual element for the site and, as we have seen, the hill sits in a central position within a proposed ring of defensive sites.


The suggestion at this stage is that the LIDAR data indicates a tribal district bounded by a ring of defences each of which is approximately .87 miles equidistant from Knave Hill. The vector boundaries would probably have been defined along the lateral natural landscape features of streams and cloughs. To the north the infant Colne Water drains through Trawden while the natural southern district boundary would be the deep valley of Thursden Brook. The western boundary of Colne Water links these two stream valleys which leaves only the eastern limits on Boulsworth moors.  Again, a clough can be seen to run across the moorland from the heights above Trawden to the Thursden valley at Broadbank and along this natural feature are the proposed defenses located in grids D5 and C5.    

If we are able to show that the case for a deliniated tribal settlement here then other questions should begin to be answered. For instance, we have long suspected ancient routeways ran through the area and we should now have a clearer indication of their location and purpose.

Further, the Great Marsden district occupies the upland side of the Colne Water valley and the name Marsden is commonly taken to mean Boundary Valley. It is possible that this area was a small tribal settlement, or principality, within a much larger district or kingdom spreading from the Calderdale district to the south. This would not be surprising given the commonality of place-names existing between the two areas (such as Marsden, Colne and Calder).

The possibility of an important settlement, and the number of smaller settlements apparent within the survey area, indicates that our district was much more populated than the few known archaeological finds suggests and it is likely that a thriving trade network existed here. It would be expected, therefore, that we could boast of a number of Roman sites  - after all, where there were native populations in any number the Romans quickly established stations to police the populace. Up to now, however, our Roman presence is pitifully under represented.

Well. . . Things might just be about to change on this front thanks to our old friend LIDAR! There is not space in this monthly report for the possible landscape evidence for Roman occupation but suffice it to say that I hold strong hopes for some of the LIDAR  grids. A recent sponsorship of grids around the Wycoller district look particularly promising in this respect and, if I prove to be on the right lines, we will truly be changing the historical perception of the quiet moorland backwater that is our survey area.

In the next report I hope to cover the settlement enclosures that are coming to light and our intrepid landscape investigators, David and Peter, might have found the Roman route that linked the northern and southern extremities of our survey - a road that they have been searching for over a long period of time.   

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The image of collective LIDAR data above illustrates the value of height colour-scaping - the darker central areas represent the first upland scarp progressing eastward from the lowland Colne Water and Pendle Water valley. When it comes to research of our ancient local history this is actually the most revealing aerial image that I have ever seen!  

It is early days yet and a great deal of groundwork is required to prove or disprove theories based on the imagery but in the above data there is the strong suggestion of a defined tribal district with Knave Hill at its centre.

The thinking at present is that a tribal area covering much the same area as Great Marsden existed on the upland scarp of west Boulsworth. We already know that Castercliffe (grid C2) was a Neolithic and Bronze Age site before it became an Iron Age (c 800bc to 45ad) hillfort.  With the aid of LIDAR I am now convinced that the circular earthwork known as Broadbank Camp or Burwains Camp at Thursden (grid F4) sits on a former defended promontory. Crawshaw Hill at Catlow (grid E2) has been heavily quarried on its summit but early maps show that a circular enclosure existed on the western edge of the hill top and this also formed a defensive site. The same argument for defence applies to the ring sites located in grids F3 C4 D5 and E5.

Further to these proposed defenses the LIDARS show evidence for enclosed settlements - a cluster of almost certain enclosures can be found at Ringstone Hill (E3) and Catlow Bottoms (E2) with other apparent enclosures north of the Deerstones (D5), Trawden (C5) and Antley  (E5).

The two hills forming the single entity of Knave Hill


                                                    CASTERCLIFFE            KNAVE HILL              BOULSWORTH              CRAWSHAW HILL

Knave Hill viewed from the west (Pendle Forest)


Viewed from the west Knave Hill displays a distinct conical shape and lies between the Castercliffe and Crawshaw Hill ridge and Boulsworth Hill. From this vantage point Knave Hill sits perfectly within the landscape and appears to be relating the Castercliffe/Crawshaw ‘gateway’with the major landscape feature of Boulsworth Hill. This is a typical cultural display of landscape manipulation seen in the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods - Knave Hill appears to have been the settlement ritual focus for a number of outlying settlements and would have held great importance within this landscape.  


As an illustration of the value of LIDAR data we see above two images of the same area in Nelson.


The image on the left is a standard aerial photograph from around 1960, the central image is a modern aerial and on the right is the LIDAR. This clearly shows what should be a Bronze to Iron Age enclosure with large banks on the periphery - none of which are visible on any standard aerial images. I have surveyed this enclosure with GPS and am very hopeful that we will carry out an assessment excavation here in the near future.

What am I?

I’m very excited about this feature. Haven’t been able to get onto it in the field yet - hope it doesn’t turn out to be the site of an old barn, a water reservoir, football field, swimming pool or sheep pen!

The 1848 OS map shows this as a simple rectilinear feature demarcated by a plain line so this hopefully rules out the above (famous last words!!!

Sunday 3rd March


OK, so it is is marked on the map as a fish pond!

I checked the Trawden district tithe map and the field within which the feature is located (field 37) is named as Fishpond Field.


HOWEVER - I am not giving up on this feature yet - it seems to be too large an earthwork to have been a simple fish pond!