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The History of Burnley
To 1400

Please Note:-
Volume II p. 241 “The original Towneley Alter has been brought from the Covent at Ashdown Park Sussex and is now in its former place in the Chapel”.

Printing History

Part 1 First Printed by
Burnley Express Printing Co., Ltd. 1946

Part 2 First Printed by
Burnley Express Printing Co., Ltd. 1947

Reprint Combined Volume Parts 1 and 2 Printed Offset Litho by Burnley Corporation, 1969

Published by Burnley Corporation



This book has been written in order to interest the general public and the older schoolchildren of Burnley in the origin and development of their town. It is also hoped that the future student of Burnley’s history will find in these pages a convenient compendium of the necessary material.

The present volume traces the history of Burnley up to the transition stage from hamlet to village: the writer hopes that it will-be possible later to show its growth from village to town and thence to its present status as a large and important industrial centre.

Many friends have given valuable assistance in the preparation of the book, and I acknowledge most gratefully my indebtedness to them. Above all, I wish to thank Dr. J. Wilfrid Jackson, D.Sc., F.G.S., of Manchester University, and Dr. G. H. Tupling, M.A., B.Se., Ph.D., Lecturer in Local History at Manchester University. Dr. Jackson has read, criticised and amended the script of the Introduction and the first two Chapters: his unfailing kindness has freed the earlier part of the text from serious errors. Dr. Tupling on many occasions has willingly given me the benefit of his detailed knowledge of local Mediaeval History and, in addition, has read, criticised and corrected with meticulous care the script of Chapters III—XVIII. The interpretation of historical ’data almost invariably rouses some criticism, but the help given by Dr. Jackson and Dr. Tupling has given me greater confidence in publishing this book. I also wish .to thank Mr. W. Stuttard, B.A., of the Burnley Grammar School, and G. A. Wood, M.A., of Burnley. for their valuable advice, helpful criticism and material aid with the script. In addition, I owe a deep debt of gratitude to Mr. W. Colvin, M.I.Min.E., Deputy Principal of the Burnley Municipal College, for help with the geological information contained in the Introduction, to Mr. F. Heap, of the Burnley Grammar School, who has kindly drawn all the illustrations, to the Staff of the maps and to the Clerical Borough Surveyor for preparing Staff of the Town Hall for much appreciated assistance with the typing.

Lastly. I wish to express my sincere thanks to the Burnley Borough Council for undertaking the publication of this book, which would otherwise have remained manuscript

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BURNLEY 1000-1100

INHABITANTS, 1250-1350



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The aim of this book is to trace from the very earliest times the history of the people who have lived in and around Burnley and made the town what it is today. We know it as a busy centre supporting nearly one hundred thousand inhabitants, with streets, parks, churches, schools, coal mines, mills, shops and industries of every description. The town is situated in a valley which runs north-east to Skipton and North west to Blackburn, where it opens out into the Lancashire plain. On the northern side of the valley are the Pendle hills, on the south and west are the Hameldon hills and the Cliviger gorge, while on the east lie the Worsthorne moors and Boulsworth. The town itself ia built near the junction of the Brun and the Calder, The former river rises on the Worsthorne moors, receives the Don and Swinden Water and after flowing past Heasandford, almost encircles the Church; the latter rises above Holme, runs past Towneley and after being joined by the Brun in the heart of the town and by Pendle Water near Royle, flows through Padiham and Whalley to join the Ribble at Hacking.

If that were all that is important, then this introduction would be unnecessary. Burnley, however, owes its origin to those hills and rivers; its growth was determined by its lines of communication, climate and minerals; even in these modern times we are to a large extent dependent on the same controlling forces of nature. No apology is therefore needed for introducing a history of Burnley by giving a short outline of how its main physical features were created.

Unknown millions of years ago, the surface of Northern England was hard rock that had once been molten. tremendous earth movements had shaken and twisted the crust of the earth, the land sank and was covered by the sea. During long ages, the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian and Devonian rocks were laid down, and afterwards began the Carboniferous series which is so well represented in Burnley. In this period of geological history, shells and skeletons of marine animals fell on the sea bed, and in course of time formed together with precipitation under pressure a limestone rock many feet thick. As ages passed, the limestone bed approached the surface, rivers carried the mud further out to sea and deposited on the shale the heavier sediments of grit and sand which, when compressed. formed the millstone grit rock found on all the hills around Burnley. During this long period of time, the regular rise and fall of the sea bed at long intervals, due to irregular cooling of the earth, prevented a continuous deposit of sand and grit: As may be seen from a geological diagram of the district, a stratum of millstone grit is followed by a thin marine band formed at the bottom of a shallow sea, then by shale, and then by sandstone. The cycle of marine band, shale, sandstone is very regular.

Finally the sea bed rose above the surface and for long ages remained a marshy delta, covered in course of time with forests and jungles. The trees and plants died and fell and later became under pressure a compact layer of decayed vegetation, which we know as a coal seam, in the same that characterised the millstone grit series, the coal seams are separated by strata of shale and sandstone, each layer denoting a long period of silent growth beneath the surface of the sea or at the bottom of a huge lake.

The progressive and regular building up of the earth's crust was later interrupted by subterranean forces which created vertical or nearly vertical fractures through the strata and forced all the series in one district higher or lower than the series in adjacent districts. These fractures are known as faults, and many occur, of which the largest in this district is the Cliviger Fault.

Geologically, this area is known as the Burnley Coal Basin, and covers an ellipse of which the long axis runs between Colne and Blackburn. This implies that subterranean forces acting along the western and eastern sides of the ellipse forced upwards all the layers, thus forming a kind of oval land dish with the Pendle ridges on the north and west and the Hameldon, Worsthorne and Boulsworth hills on the south and east,

The broken coal seams with their intervening layers of shale and sandstone therefore once formed the tops of the Pendle ridges and Hameldon hills, but have been denuded by the action of frost, rain and wind and carried away by streams, thus leaving the harder underlying millstone grit exposed. Further down the slopes of the hills, the coal measures appeared on the surface and have been mined in many places as outcrop workings. A seam of coal which was worked in 1600 on the site of Scott Park was identified in 1895 as the Dandy Seam. Another coal outcrop was worked on the Ridge in 1578, while on the Pendle side a “colle bedde ” in the Old Laund gave “fire bot ” for many years before 1580, Similarly the sandstones are quarried where the overlay is not too thick. The Dyneley Knott flags and the Old Laurenee Rock have been worked in the Deerplay area, the Dandy Mine Rock and the Tim Bobbin Rock are worked in Habergham, while the Gorpley Grit was used in the construction of Hurstwood Reservoir.

So far only the strata beneath the surface have been discussed, but probably the Burnley householder is more concerned about the nature of the soil in his garden. A Burnley garden has generally a short depth of turf and “made” soil overlying a heavy clay which is many feet in thickness, This clay is the result of glaciers which once spread over the northern parts of England to such depth that in our district only the tops of Pendle, Hameldon and Boulsworth were left uncovered by the ice. There appear to have been two glaciers which slowly advanced over this district at the same time; one came from the Lake District, and the other from the Ribble Valley. When at their maximm, the glaciers still continued to move forward, grinding shales, sandstones and softer rocks into mud and tearing great rocks from the hills as they slowly passed. At the most southerly points, the ice melted, mud and water in enormous quantities flowed away and the ice-borne rocks and boulders fell and lay where the glaciers melted. At first the water from the Burnley glaciers poured into the Cliviger valley. and the Shedden valley became a deep lake; then as the thawing of such enormous masses of ice continued, some of the water overflowed into the Rawtenstall valley to create a lake Irwell: Finally the ice cap completely disappeared from this area, but our district lay at the bottom of a great lake which stretched from Colne to Darwen. Sand, mud, stones mud clay were still being deposited into this lake by the waters which came pouring from the now more northerly glaciers. Thus was formed the all-too-familiar clay of Burnley gardens.

The Ribblesdale glacier brought a mud of a blue grey colour together with so much limestone that in the Thursden and Shedden valleys and in Hapton Park, lime kilns were built in the 17th and 18th centuries to burn the lime, The north-west glacier brought a mud of a reddish brown colour with many great blocks of stone. One of these may be seen in Towneley Park; another one from the Lake District still lies buried in the clay at the bottom of School Lane. Sometimes the glaciers brought sand which the waters swirled into pockets, such as may be found in many parts of the town. Sand and gravel mounds on Hameldon, Red Lees and Cliviger Laithe are due to deposits made in lakes formed by water which could not easily escape, The “hummocky” mounds in the neighbourhood of Walk Mill seem to indicate that at that point the glacier ceased to retreat for a considerable time due to a return of the extreme cold weather conditions.

For many centuries after the lakes had drained away, wide expanses of clay alone remained. Vegetation eventually spread from southern England, trees and grass began to grow on the high land, and with the arrival of wild animals, Burnley and district at last became the home of a man.

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Prehistoric Times.

1. Eolithic Age or Dawn of the Stone Age.
2. Paleolithic Age or Old Stone Age began about 500,000 B.C.
3. Mesolithic Age or Middle Stone Age began about 10,000 B.C.
4. Neolithic Age or New Stone Age began about 2,500 B.C.
5. Bronze Age began about 1,800 B.C.
( a ) Early.
( b ) Middle.
( c ) Late.
6. Early Iron Age began about 500 B.C.

The first chapter in this book, which will deal with the long story of Burnley, and the conditions that influenced the lives of its inhabitants, is given to a description of those people who, thousands of years ago, lived and hunted in this area.

The table given above shows the various periods into which the whole of Prehistory has been divided. It should be noted, however, that one age overlaps the next age, so that really there are no distinct breaks at definite points of time. The main divisions depend largely on the material (stone, bronze or iron) which was used for making implements and weapons. The period of time during which stone wás used was a very long one and therefore, as knowledge of Prehistory developed and more man-made weapons were discovered and classified, it became necessary to sub-divide the Age of Stone into Eolithic (Dawn of Stone Age), about which experts themselves do not always agree, Palæolithic (Old Stone Age), Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age), and Neolithic (New Stone Age). These divisions depend largely on the technique shown in fashioning stone weapons and the particular type of weapon that was used.

As far as Burnley is concerned, we can omit the first two divisions, for it is generally agreed that there is no reliable evidence of man's existence in the North of Englaind before the Mesolithic Period. We must therefore begin our story with the people who hunted in this locality some ten or twelve thousand years ago. It is, of course, impossible to give an exact date for their arrival in this district, but in any case, a thousand years one way or another makes very little difference in Prebistoric times.

The Mesolithic Period lasted for possibly eight thousand years, and during that long space of time the climate underwent great changes which brought about the corresponding alterations in the types of forest. The glaciers had long disappeared and vegetation had covered the great desolate areas of clay, but at the beginning of the period, the climate was still cold and wet and the forest were made up principally of alders, birches and pines, though oaks and limes were fairly common. In course of time, the climate became drier with warm summers and cold winters: at the close of the period, the weather was warm and damp so that oaks, elms and alders flourished. The wild animals which roamed the district included wolves, foxes, deer, boar brown bears and giant elks. Probably most of the low-lying districts were marshy, and therefore hunting was mostly confined to the moors that surround the valley.

The people of the Mesolithic period are the first recognised pioneers and explorers in this area, and it is almost certain that they came as wandering hunters, tracking animals which were the main source of food. Prehistorians have distinguished several peoples who lived during this period, but we in Burnley are concerned with only two of them, the Azilians, named after Mas d'Azil in southern France, and the Tardenoisians, named after Tardenois in northern France. In each of these two French localities were found weapons made in Mesolithic times, which showed very different characteristics. Azilians eame from France to Southern England and thence spread northward to the Pennines, while the Tardenoisians entered England by the north-east coast, occupied the high moorland areas and eventually reached the Pennines. From the Pennines there was a gradual expansion to all suitable places in the north. We thus find Azilian and Tardenoisian implements on Burnley moors, and from the position in which they are found today it seems probable that the two peoples hunted and lived together.

The weapons were made of flint: so that either the hunters brought them ready made from areas where flint stone is common, or they imported the flint stone and fashioned the weapons during a temporary stay on their hunting grounds. (Flint is not found in Burnley except for a very limited quantity which was carried here by glaciers: chert, used in later Prehistoric times, is fairly common on Burnley moors.) The flint weapons used by the Azilians and the Tardenoisians were so small that they are called “Pygmy flints” or “microliths” (little stones): the largest are rarely more than 1in. long, while the smallest are about 0.5in. long. Some of the flints are regularly shaped into very small triangles, four-sided figures, or semi-circles: some are shaped like little blades: others have a blunted “point. The scraper usually associated with the Mesolithie peoples is called a “thumb scraper” the size of a man's thumb nail. We do not know exactly the uses of certain flints, but doubtless some were harpoon barbs and others were arrow heads and dart points. In Fig. I, types of mesolithic flints found at Cant Clough are illustrated. Unfortunately nothing of the Mesolithic Age has come dowm to us except the flint weapons, so that we cannot be certain of any customs that may have prevailed in this area. Mesolithie peoples used pebbles on which simple designs had been painted. In Bavaria; two pits were found in which skulls had been arranged in circles and facing west; coronets of shells and stags' teeth had been placed on some of the heads. This ceremonial burial seems to imply a belief in a future existence.

About 2,500 B.C. the Neolithic people entered England, bringing with them a higher culture. In countries bordering on the Mediterranean, where they had established themselves many centuries before, they had reached a comparatively high state of civilisation and so were able to introduce into this country the knowledge and practice of agriculture, pottery making, domestication of animals and a new technique in making stone weapons. The men were of medium height and the women were. short and slightly built. They lived in huts, built camps, made weapons of every description (including saws and sickles), erected huge stones singly, in circles or in rows, and buried their dead chieftains in long barrows or egg-shaped mounds of earth and stone which sometimes exceeded a hundred yards in length, All this we know from what has been discovered in the south and east of England, but neither in Burnley nor in Lancashire can we find such direct evidence of the Neolithic period.

We have therefore to admit that it is very difficult to prove the existence of Neolithic people in this district. There are no “standing stones” and no long barrows which would offer reliable proof. A statement(1) in the Victoria County History of Lancashire that “possibly some mounds on the moors which lie towards Extwistle may be assigned to this period ” is very disappointing for no such mounds have been located though a wide search has been made on many occasions. Much more serious consideration must be given to a group of mounds in Everage Clough.(2) Originally there were eight of them, but four have been levelled at some unknown date during agricultural operations. The remaining four vary in length from 27 feet to 17 feet, in breadth from 8 feet to 5 feet, and in height from 4 feet to 2 feet. According to tradition, the mounds cover the graves of soldiers of Cromwell who were slain whilst fighting in the vicinity, but there is no evidence to support the truth of that story. The whole group is scheduled as “Ancient Monuments” and no excavations can be undertaken without the permission of H.M. Ministry of Works. It should be noted that all the burial sites as given on the map on page 143 are so protected. (Probably the long barrow nearest to Burnley exists on Kildwick Moor. It measures about 20 yards in length, 8 yards in width and 5 or 6 feet in height. When the mound was excavated, there was found a well-built cist made of flat boulder stones with an upper and a lower compartment: the skeleton lay in the bottom compartment.)

1. V.C.H. 1 211.
2. Barnley Express and Advertiser, Aug. 6h, 1927,

The Neolithic people adopted a new method of fashioning their larger stone weapons. In the Palæolithic and Mesolithic periods, flint implements were shaped by flaking and chipping, a method which continued into the succeeding ages, but Neolithic man made the discovery that very hard stones such as granite and greenstone could be made into a required shape by grinding or rubbing with a very hard sandstone. The new method gave a very smooth and polished surface to the finished article. one time it was thought that all “polished” stone implements were of Neolithic origin, but it is now known that later peoples used the same technique so that we cannot say definitely that the “polished” stone axes found locally belong to the Neolithic Age. (Fig. 1 and Appendix.)

Perhaps the best evidence that Neolithic peoples did visit this district is the occurrence of flint arrow-heads, which are triangular, triangular hollow-based, or leaf shaped, for these were the shapes adopted by Neolithic man: many arrowheads of these types have been found on the moors, and in one or two examples there are signs that the flints had been “rubbed” after the preliminary chipping. Other implements which may have a Neolithic origin are round scrapers, gouges and saws. (Fig. 1 and Appendix.)

Possibly, therefore, all that we can claim for Burnley in the Neolithic Age is that it was a hunting ground for the people of that period. On the other hand, if the Everage Clough mounds, when excavated, should prove to be Neolithic long barrows, then there would be good reason for regarding the Burnley district not only as a hunting ground but also as the site of a Neolithic settlement.

By far the most important Prehistoric people to live in the Burnley district were those of the Bronze Age. This period in England began about 1,800 B.C., when invaders from the Continent introduced a knowledge of how to make bronze and fashion bronze weapons. With bronze axes and knifes, many things were possible; trees could be cut down, trimmed and shaped, and even stone could be chiselled. In the same period agricultural methods were improved, and consequently in many parts of the country the people were able to adopt a settled life, though no doubt hunting still played a huge part in providing food. In addition, the arts of pottery making and cloth weaving reached a high standard.

During the Bronze Age the climate in this area Was generally warm and dry, so that the growth of forests would be checked and the lowlands would offer a better chance of penetration, and in some cases, of settlement. The people lived in huts which were of two varieties: one type Was circular and above ground with walls of wattle and clay and roof of thatch: a second type was a shallow pit with flat roof end a sloping passage of approach. There are no remmns of these dwellings to be seen in the Burnley district, but there is plenty of other evidence that Bronze age man settled here. of the men were tall and strong, with sloping foreheads and prominent eyebrow ridges, while others were sturdy, with round heads. high foreheads and slight eyebrow ridges.

Though the period is known as the Bronze Age, the metal was so scarce and valuable that the people relied on flint for many necessary articles, such as arrowheads, which ware very easily lost. It was only in the latter part of the Bronze Age and in the more favourably situated settlements that the metal became commoner and was used to make buckets. razors, etc. The only bronze articles so far found in this area are axes, spear heads and a dagger.

As may be seen from the table given at the head of this chapter. the Bronze Age is divided into three periods, early, middle and late, each period representing an advance in civilisation or a change in customs or perhaps the arrival of a new body of immigrants with new ideas. The Burnley area is fortunate in having a record of all the three periods.

( a ) EARLY.
The people of the Early Bronze Age are called Beaker Folk ” because they introduced an earthenware vessel shaped like a drinking cup. Only one fragment of Beaker Ware has ever been found in Lancashire, but another piece was found just across the county boundary on Extwistle Moor.(3) Again, the only two large flint implements associated with this period which have been found in Lancashire, were found locally. One is a dngger, 6in. long, found on Worsthorne Moor; the other is a knife or spear head. 4in. long and 2in. broad, found near Hurstwood reservoir. Both are now in Towneley Museum. Relics of the Early Bronze Age are fairly common in the eastern counties, and it seems likely that the people spread into this district from Yorkshire, but did not penetrate very far into Lancashire.

The smaller flint implements used by Early Bronze Age people may still be found on Burnley Moors, and include arrow heads with tang and barbs, gouges, borers, scrapers, knives and spindle-whorls. The last mentioned article implies a knowledge of cloth making. The bronze weapons of this period which have been found locally are important. A spear head, which is now in the Towneley Museum, is four inches long, flat, undecorated and has been hammered into shape. Three axe heads have been found at Read, and one of them is now in the British Museum.(4) It is eight inches long and has side margins or flanges which have been made by hammering the long edges; the faces of the axe head are ornamented with shallow chevrons and straight lines, and the flanges with diagonal lines.(4) (See Fig. 2.)

The burial mounds associated with the Early Bronze Period were made of earth and stones, round in shape and about 30 feet in diameter, and often surrounded by a ring of stones. Inside the mound was a cist made of large, flat stones in the shape of a large oblong box, which contained a skeleton usually in a crouching posture: within or near the cist, flints are found, accompanied occasionally with an urn which may have contained food. Two such mounds or “round barrows” may have been found locally. One at Lawhouse, Mereclough, (5) was accidentally opened in 1763 by workmen who were digging a field drain; it contained a cist, in which there was a skeleton and “a rude earthenware vase and bones.” The second mound, 30 feet in diameter and about four feet high, was situated on Hameldon Hill, (6) Worsthorne, and was excavated in 1887. “The centre was occupied by stones arranged like a long sarcophagus” “about nine feet long” “with two large stones as cover”; flint flakes and arrowheads have been found but there was no skeleton: the excavators suggested that there had been a previous but unrecorded opening of the mound.

3. Jackson-Prehis. Arch, Lanes, 77.
4. Ibid. 82; V.C.H. I 230.
5. Booth-Grave Mounds on Pennines.
6. Ibid.

( b ) MIDDLE.
As time went on, Bronze Age man began to find ways and means of overcoming certain difficulties in the technique of metal working, and had progressed so far that in the Middle Bronze period he was able to mould the metal. Such knowledge made possible an improvement in all his implements. For example, since a heavy blow with a plain, flat axe head of sharpened bronze, such as was used in the early period, always tended to split the wooden shaft to which the head was secured, the smith of the Middle Bronze Age found a method of moulding a bronze axe head with flanges on the long edges and a “stop ridge” on either face so that the head of the wooden shaft was not liable to split when the axe was used. A similar difficulty was experienced with the early bronze spear head“ in this case the difficulty was overcome by making a bronze collar to fit the shaft and driving a bronze nail through the collar and the tang of the spear head.

Two bronze implements of this period have been found in the Burnley area: one is an axe head with flanges and stop ridge, found in 1884 at Cant Clough, (7) and the other is a bronze dagger, nine inches long with a rounded midrib and a three inch tang pierced with a hole for a rivet. The dagger was found near Catlow in 1842;(8) it may be that the collar which fitted on to the shaft was lost.

In the Middle Bronze Age it was the custom in this area to cremate the bodies of the dead, though probably the full rites of cremation and urn burial were reserved for chieftains. Apparently, after the funeral pyre had died out, the ashes were collected (and at times wrapped in a piece of cloth, which was fastened with a bronze or bone pin) and then placed in an urn which was buried just below the surface. Sometimes an urn was protected by stones, but in many cases there was no such protection. Occasionally a food vessel was also buried with the cinerary urn. In many parts of England it was usual to raise a considerable mound of earth and stones over the site of the urn, but in the Burnley district it was the custom to surround the burial with a circle of stones, generally seven in number, or a low, circular rampart of earth: the circle was generally about seven yards in diameter. Many such burials have been found locally, and a brief description is given in the Appendix of the recorded excavations made at Catlow, Cliviger Laithe, Hameldon Hill, Twist Hill. Beadle Hill and Delph Hill.

The site of the burial in Ell Clough. marked on the map (page 142 and fig. 5) is the best preserved, Notes and an accompanying plan made in 1927 by Mr. G. A Wood M.A., of Burnley showed that the stones marked 1, 3, 4, 7 were then standing as originally placed at the time of the burial, but that the others were out of alignment. A raised centre mound was disturbed, but there were signs of a slight fosse or ditch surrounding it. This particular burial place was excavated by Mr. T. Wilkinson in 1886, (9) and in a cist of unhewn stone 18 inches square was found a plain, unglazed urn, which contained the burnt bones of two persons and a bronze pin four inches long. With the urn were found burnt animal bones and “just inside the circle” charcole, the remains of the funeral pyre. As will be seen from the illustration (fig. 5). the urn is tripartite, that is, it has three distinet zones; in Towneley Museum may be seen a bipartite urn, which looks like a food vessel; however, as it contains bones, it must be regarded as a cinerary urn and may belong to the Late Bronze Age. Some of the urns contained the burnt bones of nore than one individual, as in the case of the Cliviger Laithe urn, whiclh is said to contain the remains of five persons:(10) in the Cliviger Laithe urn there were found among the bones a large number of crystals of galena or lead ore.

Occasionally, inside an urn there is found a smaller urn, which has been called “an incense cup.' This small urn is not more than three inches high, with large regularly made holes in the side and even in the lid with which the urn is sometimes fitted. The purpose of the incense cup is not known for certain: at first, as its name implies, it was thought to have been used for the burning of incense or some other herb. but one modern theory is that it is the burial urn of a small child, placed in the urn of its parent. The holes in the side of the incense cup would allow the child to keep in close contact with the parent in the spirit world.

A pottery vessel of an unusual type, now in the Manchester University Museum, is 1in, high and 3 3/16in, in diameter. and was found in 1905 in an earth circle near Burnley, (11) (Figure 4.)

( c ) LATE.
The Late Bronze Age showed a still higher skill in the technique of metal working, and by this time the axe head had been so far developed that it was moulded with a socket into which the haft was fitted: the spear head showed a like development. A socketed axe head with loop, now in Townelev Museum, measures 2 1/4in. in length and was found near Pendle.

9. Mem. of Hurstwond, 6-7.
10. Booth -Grave Mounds on Pennines: Abercrombie Bronze Age Pottery.
11. Jackson–Prehis. Arch. Lancs. 108.

Cremation was still practised, but some authorities suggest that during this period the urns were buried in an urnfield or cemetery which could be used for many years. The cemetery or “disk barrow” was situated in an open, level space on high moorland surrounded by a circular earth mound with a ditch on the inside: in the east, the ditch was filled up to form a passage into the sacred enclosure. Near this eastern entrance the funeral pyres were made. Such a burial ground. 50 yards in diameter, exists on the moors overlooking Thursden Valley: it is scheduled as an “Ancient Monument” and it is one of the very few undisturbed prehistoric relies left in the district.

Associated with the Bronze Age are the stone hammer heads and stone mallets, which are well represented in the district, though all the recorded finds have been made on the Pendle side of Burnley Valley. A list is given In the appendix.

The Bronze Age as a whole was a very remarkable one. Its peoples were highly skilled in the making of stone and flint weapons: they knew the secret of making the hardest bronze and moulding it into weapons and articles of many types; they hunted and they farmed; they made good pottery; they had learned how to spin and weave cloth; they loved ornaments and they appreciated an artistic design; they probably worshipped the sun, and their burial rites imply a belief in a future life.

The main occupation of the Bronze Age settlers in this district must have been hunting, for the moors were inhospitable and agriculture would be very difficult. There was no copper and no tin which could attract them, nor is it likely that they used the loonl deposits of galena, although the inclusion of galena crystals in the Cliviger Laithe urn may suggest that they knew the value of lead. Bronze Age smiths did use lead when making patterns for moulds.

During the Bronze Age there was a certain amount of trade carried on between Ireland and the Continent, and it has been suggested that the route lay between the Lancashire and Yorkshire coasts via the Ribble-Aire Gap. There is a distinct possibility, however, that an alternative and shorter route lay between the Calder (tributary of the Ribble) and the Yorkshire Calder; in this case the track would probably lie through what is now Old Read, Higham, Stepping Stones, Gannow Top, Towneley, Mereclough and the Long Causeway to Heptonstall. By taking this route, the traveller would follow, for most of his way, a hillside road on a firm, high and open land, would avoid many deep cloughs, cross a dangerous valley at a fairly narrow point, and above all, reach his destination on the Yorkshire coast by possibly the shortest route.

Near both the Lancashire and Yorkshire ends of the Long Causeway, Bronze Age settlements existed: burial sites are numerous, and both bronze and flint implements have been found on or very near to the suggested route. Even if it is disputed that the Long Causeway was originally a main track between the west and the east of Northern England, at any rate it served to connect the Worsthorne and Todmorden groups of Bronze Age settlers.

The people of the early Iron Age are known as Celts and are the same people whom in our schooldays we called “the Ancient Britons” Most unfortunately there is nothing to show that they ever lived in Lancashire. Experts tell us that during this period the climate was wet, so that the low-lying lands were almost impassable and the uplands were covered with bogs: In these conditions life in this district would be almost intolerable. In the limestone districts round Settle and Grassington, however, many Celtic villages have been discovered, and in the shallow pits which formed the huts, pottery and ornaments have been found

While it may be true that this district was not a coentre of population in Celtic times, there were almost certainly some inhabitants of the district. We still have the old Celtic names, Pendle, Calder, Colne, Ightenhill, rossendale, and these names would surely not exist if the Britons had never lived here.

It was during the Iron Age that the Romans conquered Britain. A Roman writer tells us that the people of the North of England were called Brigantes, and that the Setantii occupied what is now Lancashire.

2020/08/27 05:34
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