NGR: SD 8944 3422. On the summit of a low, grassy hill called Pike Low (or Lowe), near Briercliffe, Burnley, in Lancashire, are the re-mains of a Bronze Age bowl barrow or cairn circle. It is recorded as being a tumulus and has been robbed of its stone-work, though some of the stones that made up the cist burial can still be seen scattered around on what was the burial mound itself. At some point in the past, the summit of Pike Low was the site of a beacon used at times of great national festivities, which then came to be known as Bonfire Hill. Some of the stones on the hill’s summit bear evidence of burning from this beacon, according to Stephen Oldfield. The Pike Low site is just to the north of the Swinden Reservoirs and 60 metres south of Shay Lane.
We do know that the Bronze Age barrow here was excavated in the mid and late 19th century and some grave goods were found, but these items were, sadly, lost at some point along the way. Was Pike Low the burial site of a princess or (a well-to-do person) from the Bronze Age? There are several other interesting ancient sites within a few miles of Pike Lowe, including Beadle Hill, a Romano-British farmstead, or was it an Iron Age settlement? and, also nearby, is Twist Castle or Twist Hill, which could have been a Romano-British settlement, farmstead and enclosure, although there is a possible Bronze Age tumulus there. There are other tumuli in this area too. The Pike Low burial site is located just to the north of the Swinden Reservoirs and about 60 metres south of Shay Lane.
The Lancashire Archaeological Bulletin (1984) gives the following information: “Parish: Briercliffe. Site Name: Pike Low. N.G.R. SD 895 343. Primary Reference: Wilkinson 1857, No. 6. Wilkinson & Harrison 1893, No. 14. Disposition Of Finds: Lost. Damaged tumulus or earth Circle. Sometimes called Pike Low.” And with that the Referencers are given; “Wilkinson T.T. (1857) On the Battle of Brunanburh: and the probable locality of the conflict. HSLC 9 (1857) 21-42. Wilkinson T.T. and Harrison , W. (1893) pp. 156-161 in Proceedings, LCAS 11 (1893) 131-183. (Text summarises Wilkinson on a field meeting: map by Harrison).”
Sources / References & Associated websites:-
Many thanks to Stephen Oldfield for the use of his photos, above. Thanks Stephen – much appreciated.
Edwards, Margaret & Ben, Lancashire Archaeological Bulletin, Vol. 10, No. 2/3, Preston, May & July, 1984.
Copyright © Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2022.