“Detectives” seek Pendle Hill clues

Rigby Jerram plotting field  boundaries for the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership Scheme. (Photo by M.Wright)
Rigby Jerram plotting field boundaries for the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership Scheme. (Photo by M.Wright)
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Two special “detectives” are busy gathering evidence in and around Lancashire landmark Pendle Hill.

Rigby Jerram and Mike Woods are studying 120 square kilometres in the heartland of the county’s infamous witch country - from the western A59 to Pendle Water in the east, to Gisburn in the north and south to Padiham.

They are collecting details for a HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund) backed Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership scheme which aims to reconnect people with their landscape and their past. Its remit will include safeguarding the area’s wildlife and heritage, improving people’s access to the popular countryside area and creating five full time jobs and 20 apprenticeships.

The £3m scheme is spearheaded by the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team.

Rigby, has so far logged more than 1200 hedgerows and 600 walls, has been commissioned to complete ecology and field boundary surveys. He will produce a map of traditional hedges, stone walls, fences, field boundaries and features that make up the pattern of Pendleside countryside and is also mapping habitats such as the moorland, agricultural land, woodland and meadows.

He said: “On average, I aim to survey about 3 square kilometres a day. The information will help the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership decide what to target in their projects and where the work is needed.”

Meanwhile Mike has to gather clues and choose the best sites – at least six to eight – that will interest and involve community groups.

He is an archaeology graduate from the University of Central Lancashire which has awarded him an internship to work on the project.

His task is immense - there are more than 1,600 known ancient sites around the area.

He said: “The land around is so beautiful and so untouched, some parts are quite difficult to get to which is good from an archaeologist’s perspective.”

He is contacting landowners for permission to investigate ancient mounds, field features, and puzzling land shapes he has identified on their land.

He has been to the well-researched Portfield prehistoric hill fort, near Whalley and is investigating lost sections of Roman roads which pepper the Pendle Hill area, the coffin roads and coffin stones often mistaken for standing stones and a number of Bronze Age and Iron Age sites.

He said: “I’m itching to find out about all the sites. It’s so exciting. You have to cast your mind back to medieval times and beyond, You look at the world in a different way. When you dig up some pottery or iron, for example, you wonder what it is, what it was used for. It’s a little window into the past.”

Mike is working with Cathy Hopley, the Partnership’s development officer, and Dr Rick Peterson, head of UCLAN archaeology.

• Photo by M.Wright shows Rigby surveying Pendle.