Historically the combined districts of Burnley, Pendle and Wets Craven have long
been something of an archaeological 'no-man’s-land.' While the secrets of the long-hidden
past of more fortunate districts of Britain have, for generations, been bursting
from the soil and filling the pages of archaeology books and magazines the surface
of our subject area has hardly been scratched.
The northern fringes of the area have rapidly expanded from a series of small riverside
settlements into the cotton town conurbations of Burnley, Nelson and Colne; the rural
subject of our study, however, survives as a relatively untouched swathe of marginal
dairy and moorland sheep grazing land. No major developments (motorway, supermarket
or housing) has brought teams of archaeologists onto these river valleys and uplands.
To address this situation, local landscape archaeologist and historian, John Clayton
of Barrowford, decided to implement an archaeological survey over a wide strip of
land stretching from the natural landscape boundaries formed by the Burnley moors
in the south and the rolling drumlin hills around Long Preston to the north. The
urban fringes of Burnley, Nelson, Colne and Earby were set as the eastern survey
limit with the ridge of Boulsworth Hill separating the survey from neighbouring Calderdale.
The Burnley, Pendle and Wst Craven Archaeology Project began in January 2013 and
is an ongoing undertaking; the basic project remit is to obtain an overview of archaeological
landscape features within the eighty-three square kilometres of the survey. Laser
technology, in the form of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) is utilised as the
primary aerial resource whereby one metre resolution images for the survey area were
obtained from the Environment Agency. Each LiDAR image covers one square kilometre
and the cost of purchasing the 'data tiles' was met through public donation where
individuals sponsored their own square kilometre of data (as at September 2015 the
method of LiDAR data acquisition has been changed by the EA).
The LiDAR results are used along with other forms of aerial imagery and historical
resources to record apparent archaeological features within the Survey area. The
results are logged and mapped through the facility of GPS (Global Positioning) and
GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and stored in GIS database form for future reference
and accurate creation of landscape feature maps.
The intent of the Survey is to provide as much evidence for surviving prehistoric
landscape archaeology within the survey districts as possible (within the constraints
of a largely non-invasive survey). John Clayton, along with interested groups and
individuals, has been involved in a great deal of fieldwork to assess possible sites
through liaison with landowners, GPS site survey, field-survey and walk-overs alongside
local history groups.
The survey results suggest a far greater occupation of the survey area within the
prehistoric and Medieval periods than has been previously recognised. A number of
Neolithic and Bronze Age burial sites are recognised throughout the area today but
the aerial evidence suggests that many more exist. Ritual monuments in the form of
stone circles once existed at Blacko, Fence, Nelson and Burnley and the Survey has
been instrumental in locating the probable site of these features. At least six lost
villages, some prehistoric and some possibly Medieval, appear within the LiDAR data,
along with ten previously unknown hillfort features and ancient burials.
Our area of the South Pennines boasts the richest Mesolithic landscape within Britain.
The first settlers lived on the high moorlands of Boulsworth and Calderdale while
their successors steadily moved into the lower land between the rivers and the hills.
This means that we are able to suggest a pattern of the movement of people across
our region, and their settlement within it, during the period extending from the
last Ice Age to the Iron Age. Gradually we see the emergence of a familiar system
of fields being created and it is fair to say that some of the fields in existence
today were created in the Bronze and Iron Age periods.
The Pendle District
Community Archaeology Group
Rewriting Local History
THE BURNLEY, PENDLE AND WEST CRAVEN
THE BPC ARCHAEOLOGY SURVEY BEGAN IN JANUARY 2013. THE SURVEY INITIALLY COVERED 63
SQUARE KILOMETRES OF THE BURNLEY AND PENDLE DISTRICTS OF EAST LANCASHIRE. HOWEVER,
FROM THE SPRING OF 2015 THE SURVEY HAS BEEN EXTENDED INTO THE FORMER DISTRICT OF
WEST CRAVEN AND HAS EXPANDED TO OVER 83 SQUARE KILOMETRES.
Aerial laser technology (lidar) has been utilised to cover the whole of the subject
area and this makes it one of the most ambitious projects of its type ever to have
been undertaken within the UK. Consequently (as at September 2015) an amazing volume
of new archaeological features are becoming available to the local archaeological
Microlith flint tools from the Castercliffe hillfort site, Colne.