The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland


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Primrose Hill Earthwork, Gisburn, Lancashire

Primrose Hill Earthwork, near Gisburn, Lancashire

Primrose Hill Earthwork, near Gisburn, Lancashire

    OS grid reference: SD 8476 4725. Near Coal Pit Lane – about 1 mile to the south-east of Gisburn, Lancashire, there is a small, square-shaped earthwork that sits upon the north-side of Primrose Hill. But unfor-tunately hardly anything is known about this solitary earthwork apart from the probability that it dates from the Roman period. This earth-work is located beside a footpath close to Hesketh Farm. There are other Roman features in this area: 600m to the north-west is the well-defined earthwork known as Bomber Camp, and 500m to the south-east there are faint traces of the Roman road that runs from Elslack to Ribchester. The Primrose Hill earthwork can be reached from the A682 out of Gisburn, turning onto Coal Pit Lane for maybe ½ a mile, then walk along the footpath/track towards Hesketh House Farm. Via off to the north before the farm, then north-east along footpath (following tree line) for 160m to reach the low hill (Primrose Hill) on the right.

Primrose Hill Earthwork near Gisburn, Lancashire,

Primrose Hill Earthwork (in the foreground) near Gisburn, Lancashire,

    This roughly square-shaped earthwork or earthen platform on Primrose Hill is about 1m (3 feet) high and 10m (nearly 33 foot) square. It is quite prominent when viewed close-up from just below the hill itself, but from further afield it is not particularly visible and would be easily walked passed. There is a dearth of information with regard to this site – although it is conjectured to have been a Roman watchtower or signal station – the later being more unlikely due to the smallness of the earthwork. A watchtower seems more plausible due to the feature being situated on a hill with lower ground on the N side and its nearness to a Roman road on the S. If this “were” a watchtower of the late Roman period, it would have been garrisoned by only ten soldiers at any one time. The thinking being that this particular watchtower never even saw the light of day, it was quickly abandoned and never begun, leaving just an earthen platform. The nearby Roman earthwork ‘Bomber Camp’ ended its days in a similar vane – only surviving for a short period of time towards the end of the 4th century AD.

Primrose Hill Earthwork, near Gisburn, Lancs.

Primrose Hill Earthwork, near Gisburn, Lancashire.

    The author John Dixon in his work ‘Journeys Through Brigantia’, (Volume One), says of this earthwork that: “During June 1971 the site was excavated by Alan King and the Chorley College of Education. No post-holes or masonry were found, nor any finds. There was no ditch around the earthwork, but the boulder clay of the mound contained sand-stone while the drift below was more calcareous, and so it was given to be man-made.” And so with the lack of any ‘good’ credible information this Roman earthwork, if that’s what it was, shall have to remain just a miscella-neous earthwork of uncertain date – at least until further information arises.

Sources:

Dixon, John & Phillip, Journeys Through Brigantia (Volume One), Walks in Craven, Airedale and Wharfedale, Aussteiger Publications, Barnoldswick, 1990.

https://thejournalofantiquities.com/2012/06/27/bomber-camp-gisburn-lancashire/


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Babyhouse Lane Ancient Settlement, Cononley, North Yorkshire

Babyhouse Lane Settlement from the south-west.

Babyhouse Lane Settlement from the south-west.

    OS grid reference: SD 9719 4628. On the hills a mile or so to the south-west of Cononley, north Yorkshire, near the top end of Babyhouse Lane there is an Iron Age settlement or camp. This is thought to have been a Brigantian outpost that was still in use in the late 1st century AD when Roman soldiers marched along the Roman road to the south-west and set up their fort at Elslack. For a time the Brigantes got on to some extent with the Romans, but that was not to last for long and their settlements were soon to be abandoned, forever. Babyhouse Lane can be reached from Colne Road (A6068) near the Dog & Gun public house at Glusburn. Take the lane up onto Leys Lane, turning left at the top onto Babyhouse Lane, and then just after the junction of four lanes and the wooded area on the right, go through the second farm-gate and into the large walled field – here before you are the faint and grassy earthworks of the ancient settlement.

Babyhouse Lane Settle-ment viewed from SE.

Babyhouse Lane Settle-ment viewed from SE.

    At ground level there isn’t a great deal to see apart from a few raised areas (low ramparts) in the middle of the field and, what are probably ditches around the edges; and the earthworks continue just beyond the wall at the N side. This pentagonal-shaped settlement measures approx. 91m x 85m and covers an area of just over 1 acre. At the W and S sides the ditch is more prominent – just before the land rises forming the bank (which seems not to be part of the earthwork), while over at the E side there is what could be an entrance. The settlement appears to be strategically placed to overlook the Aire Gap to the north-west. And the modern-day walls surrounding the earthworks give this former Brigantian, possible Romano-British settle-ment, the look of “still” being an enclosed site, even if today it is only to keep the sheep in! Sadly nothing much else is known about this site.

Babyhouse Lane Settlement viewed from the East.

Babyhouse Lane Settlement viewed from the East.

    The late John Dixon in his work ‘Journeys Through Brigantia’ , Volume One, says of the settlement here: “Just down Babyhouse Lane, over on the left, are the earthwork remains of an Iron Age/Romano-British settlement site, the earliest home of man in the area, being a pentagonal dtched earthwork with an entrance on the east and covering just over one acre.” While the author and antiquarian Harry Speight considered the ancient settlement on Babyhouse Lane to be of Danish origins. There are indeed some Scandinavian place-names around this area. Cononley is named after King Canute, according to Mr Speight. But it would seem that this is a late Iron Age-Romano-British site; and there are similar earthworks at Higher Scarcliff and Catlow Gill near Carleton Lane Head, a couple of miles to the north.

Sources:

Dixon, John & Philip., Journeys Through Brigantia, Volume One, Walks in Craven, Airedale and Wharfedale, Aussteiger Publications, Barnoldswick, 1990.

Check out this web blog by Jim Jarratt:  http://www.jimjarratt.co.uk/walks/beaconsway/section2.html


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Standrise Earth Circle, Carleton-in-Craven, North Yorkshire

Standrise Earth Circle/Enclosure, near Carlton-in-Craven.

Standrise Earth Circle/Enclosure, near Carleton-in-Craven.

    OS grid reference: SD 9418 4846. Standrise Earth Circle is located above Elslack Reservoir at the north-west side of Standrise Plantation, some 2 miles south-west of Carleton-in-Craven, north Yorkshire, there is a large Iron-Age earth circle or enclosure. This quite well-defined earthwork stands upon Elslack Moor. And 160m to the north-west another, smaller enclosure is visible. The site can be reached from the country lane between Colne and Carleton-in-Craven, turning left just after the plantation onto Moor Lane, and just after the track to Mitton House go through the gate on the opposite side of the lane, then via left up the steep hill following the edge of the plantation until you reach a flat area of land, where directly in front of you is the ancient earth circle/enclosure. You can also reach it by heading east out of Elslack and coming up by way of Mill Fold.

Standrise Earth Circle / Enclosure, near Moor Lane.

Standrise Earth Circle / Enclosure, near Moor Lane.

    The earthwork is almost a perfect circle – but how did our ancient ancestors do that? It measures 34m across and 35m vertically (38 yards x 39 yards) and has an outer bank made of soil and stones, many of these stones being small boulders; the circular, raised bank is over 1 foot high in places and is quite a substantial construction. The stones that are scattered about the circle are the remnants of a wall that once traversed the eastern side of the earthwork. Near the centre of the circle are traces of a raised area, which could well have been a hearth. And there is a solitary tree near the middle of the circle! Could this ancient enclosure have been a Brigantian settlement that was in use prior to the Roman Conquest? Maybe it was the residence of a chieftain? A couple of miles to the west we have the earthworks of ‘Burwen Castle’ Roman fort at Elslack, which was built in 80 AD, at a time when the Brigantes tribe held sway over the area, though this would soon turn in favour of Rome. This perhaps also saw the final abandonment or destruction of these Iron Age settlements.

Standrise Earth Circle (outer bank).

Standrise Earth Circle (outer bank).

    160m to the north-west near the crest of the hill at (OS grid ref: SD 9406 4861) there is a smaller circular enclosure, but very similar in construction to the other. This small circle measures approx. 14m x 15m. There is another earthwork or enclosure about 1 mile to the north-east at Higher Scarcliff, near Carleton Lane Head, and there is a possible cairn circle on the moor, above Rushbank farm, ½ a mile to the south-west of that. There are many other ancient enclosures and earthworks scattered around the Carleton, Lothersdale and Skipton areas, but too many to mention here.

    The late John Dixon in his excellent book ‘Journeys Through Brigantia’, Vol 1, says that: Moor Lane which runs along the north-east side of Standrise Plantation over to Street Head farm, near Lothersdale, was probably a “minor” Roman road linking Keighley to Burwen Castle Roman fort at Elslack, which he calls Margery 721 or the M721!

Sources:

Dixon, John & Philip., Journeys Through Brigantia, Volume 1, Walks in Craven, Airedale and Wharfedale, Aussteiger Publications, Barnoldswick, 1990.

http://www.archiuk.com

http://www.archiuk.com/cgi-bin/web-archi.pl?

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=35748


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Aedmar’s Mound And Earthworks, Blacko, Lancashire

Aedmer's Mound at Admergill, near Blacko, Lancashire.

Aedmar’s Mound at Admergill, near Blacko, Lancashire.

    OS grid reference: SD 84829 41718. For want of a better name I am calling this site ‘Aedmar’s Mound Earthworks’. These earthworks or ringworks are located down in a narrow valley, in a field above Blacko Water, near Wheathead Lane, just to the west of Blacko and Gisburn road, Lancashire, in the area called Admergill. A trackway heads off from Wheathead Lane at the bridge and then goes in a south-westerly direction for a short distance, and eventually through a wall stile – the earthworks are in the field (here) at the western-side of the beck – being noticeable by the grassy rectangular mound with its accompanying low ramparts, known as ringworks. These now rather forgotten earthworks may date back to the Iron-Age, or from the so-called Dark-Ages, or from the early Medieval period, but other than that we do not know when these earthworks were built or what they actually were; and they are not marked on any Ordnance Survey maps.

Aedmar's Mound / Earthworks viewed from the south-east.

Aedmar’s Mound / Earthworks viewed from the south-east.

    The earthworks cover an area of approx. 94m across N-S and 60m diagonally W-S though the S and N sides are cut-off and damaged by the farmer’s ‘modern’ field system, while at the NW side of the site there is a continuation of the low ringwork ramparts. The rectangular-shaped low mound ‘with the telegraph pole’ is quite a distinctive shape, but there are actually two mounds here – both being intersected in the middle by a deep ditch, or entrance. So what was it exactly? Was it a camp, a hillfort, or a defended site? Or was there a settlement here or maybe a royal residence of some kind? There appears to be at least three circular ramparts or ring-works and, possibly a fourth ring by the looks of it, surrounding the low, grassy elevated mound, and the same again at the far NW side but in a sort of square-shape, which has been cut off from the main site, possibly due to farming, or that it was meant to be like this?

    Local author, John Clayton, in his fascinating book ‘Valley of the Drawn Sword’, says that Admergill could possibly take its name from: “the Welsh prince A’dd Maur who controlled certain British lands sometime in the Early Medieval period, it is very possible that this name has been shortened over time to Mawr….but equally, it could apply to the nearby settlement of Admergill…..which eventually leads to A’dd Mawr’s Gill.”

Aedmar's Mound, Blacko, with ditch through the middle.

Aedmar’s Mound, Blacko, with ditch through the middle.

    But what of Aedmar and Eadmer two names that may be connected with this area, in which our ancient site lies.  St Aedmer or Eadmer was a bishop, ecclesiastic, and theologian who died in 1126, and was a friend of St Anselm. Was it “he” who gave his name to Admergill. And, there was a 7th century St Eadmer, a Northumbrian monk and disciple of St Cuthbert. But the truth is we don’t know, and probably never will – the name being lost in the mists of time. I think we should, therefore, say that the Welsh prince A’dd Mawr (Athmawr) is the more liklely contender here. He may have ruled over the Celtic (British) kingdom of Craven – Admergill being at the southern edge of this northern kingdom. And 2 miles to the north we have a farm called Craven Laithe!

    About 1 mile to the north on the southern side of Burn Moor a bowl-shaped quern stone was found, dating from 300-400 BCE (the middle Iron-Age). Grain would have been rubbed in the central depression with a small, rounded stone or pestle. In the vicinity of this discovery there were found to be a number of ancient boulders, some being built into walls (Clayton, John A, 2006).

Sources:

Clayton, John A., The Valley of the Drawn Sword – The Early History of Burnley, Pendle and West Craven, Barrowford Press, 2006.

Dixon, John & Mann, Bob, Historic Walks Around The Pendle Way, Aussteiger Publications, Barnoldswick, 1990.


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Broadbank Earth Circle/Enclosure, Briercliffe, Lancashire

Broadbank Earth Circle / Enclosure looking through the centre N to S.

Broadbank Earth Circle / Enclosure looking through the centre N-S.

    OS grid reference: SD 90236 35225. A fairly large Iron-Age earth circle/enclosure and possible settlement, situated at 350m above sea-level, which is located at the northern end of Halifax road, overlooking Thursden Valley, near Briercliffe, in Lancashire. Sometimes called Burwains Camp. It is located at the northern end of Halifax road (High Ridehalgh), going out of Briercliffe, just before the World War II concrete pill-box. On the opposite side of the lane is a carparking area and picnic site, with beautiful panoramic views over Boulsworth Hill, but it is also easily reached coming over from Nelson past the Coldwell reservoir and Activity Centre, and turning right at the pill-box. There is not much to be seen of the earth circle/enclosure at ground-level – it is best seen from an aerial view and from that it is quite a well-defined earthwork. The site is on private farmland and is surrounded by a wall and barbed-wire. The town of Burnley is 3 miles to the south-west.

Broadbank Earth Circle / Enclosure viewed from S to E.

Broadbank Earth Circle / Enclosure viewed from  S-E.

    The large earth circle of Iron-Age date just beyond the wall measures approx. 45m vertically and 40m across, and around the perifery there is a narrow, possibly, defensive ditch-line and bank. At the NW and SE sides there has been some damage due ‘perhaps’ to farming methods, or something else. The ditch that runs through the centre of the circle and out from it may be quite recent; this was 3.5m deep when excavated, and 25cm across;  and there are still the ‘noticeable’ remains of a slight curved bank at the W, S and E sides. At the NW and N sides there are two small earth circles: 9m x 11m and 12m x 12m respectively, which could be hut circles? These connect with the large circle by way of short ditches or entrance ways, while at the E side there looks to be a “faint” outline of a medium-sized circle that is approx. 28m x 28m, but this has suffered some damage at its SE side possibly due to its closeness with the wall, past excavations, or something else.

    In 1950 the circle was excavated by The Archaeology Department of Liverpool University. A hearth was discovered at the E side, and there were numerous flint and chert flakes as well as a stone axe (4½ inches long) of Langdale origin which had a curved cutting edge and a thin rounded head and a smooth surface, but there was no evidence of polishing, according to John Dixon & Bob Mann in their book ‘Historic Walks Around The Pendle Way’.

World War II pill-box at Burwains Camp.

World War II pill-box at Burwains Camp.

    Further north along the lane at the side of a grassy mound (OS grid ref: SD 90454 35270) stands a World War II concrete pill-box, dating from about 1940. It would appear that here on this raised area of land there was some sort of camp or fort (Burwains Camp) of Iron-Age origins, and these low ramparts once formed part of that, although it is not marked as such on any OS map. The author, John Clayton, in his work ‘Valley of the Drawn Sword’, says that: “It is likely that this particular spot has been valued for its defensive nature by every culture to have graced our shores since the Neolithic period. Conflict and wars abide and over the wide span of history things do not change!”

Sources:

Clayton, John A., The Valley Of The Drawn Sword – The Early History of Burnley, Pendle and West Craven, Barrowford Press, Barrowford, Lancashire, 2006.

Dixon, John & Mann, Bob., Historic Walks Around The Pendle Way, Aussteiger Publications, Barnoldswick, 1990.

http://www.gridreferencefinder.com/

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/broadbank-thursden/

Archaeology Department of Liverpool University, Report and Pamphlet, 1950.