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 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 a number of the fields in existence today were created in the Bronze and Iron Age periods.   

 

 

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THE BURNLEY, PENDLE AND WEST CRAVEN

ARCHAEOLOGY SURVEY  

 

 

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 WAS EXTENDED INTO ROSSENDALE AND THE FORMER DISTRICT OF WEST CRAVEN THUS EXPANDING TO OVER 340 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 is becoming available to the local archaeological record.   

Microlith flint tools from the Castercliffe hillfort site, Colne.

View a selection of finds from the Project:

PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL MATERIAL ON THIS SITE

IS SUBJECT TO STANDARD LEGAL TERMS OF COPYRIGHT  

 

 

NEW BOOK:

HILLFORTS, HOMESTEADS AND HABITATS

IN THE EAST LANCASHIRE PENNINES

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