Burwains, Foulridge, Lancashire

Cairn (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SD 888 421

Archaeology & History

Burwains on the 1848 map

The place-name burwain is an early Old English word meaning “a cairn or tumulus”.  It has variants such as borrans, borwen and borwans.  In the developing survey by Parsons & Styles (2000), other linguistic examples are given, all of which point to the same thing, i.e., a prehistoric burial of one form or another.  Also, in 19th century northern English dialect, Wright (1898) told that borrans is “a cairn, a heap of loose stones”—which is what used to exist hereby.

The fact that there is a place-name telling of its existence implies that it was a cairn of some size, but sadly all remains of it have long since gone.  All that we’ve got left is the name of Burwains house on the early Ordnance Survey maps.  Built on a hilltop rise, which is a common construction spot for such sites up and down the country, it’s possible that the cairn was destroyed when the Foulridge Lower Reservoir was built in 1793, with the mass of stone used in its construction (the reservoir also kept the name of Burwains lake for sometime).


  1. Clayton, John A., Valley of the Drawn Sword, Barrowford Press 2006.
  2. Parsons, D.N. & Styles, T., Vocabulary of English Place-Names – volume 2, EPNS: Nottingham 2000.
  3. Smith, A.H., English Place-Name Elements – volume 1, Cambridge University Press 1954.
  4. Wright, Joseph, English Dialect Dictionary – volume 1, Henry Frowde: London 1898.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

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