Broadbank Earth Circle, Thursden, Burnley, Lancashire.

Enclosure: OS Grid Reference — SD 9024 3522

Also Known as:

  1. Burwains Enclosure
  2. Burwains Camp

Getting There

From Nelson town centre go north east towards Catlow, turning left near the Shooters Arms public house, then turn right again to the Coldwell Activity Centre.  Carry on towards Thursden Valley till you see the World War 2 pillbox on the right.  Here turn right and after 300 yards a picnic site and carparking area is reached along the Briercliffe road. On the opposite side of the road over a wall and barbed wire is Broadbank Earth Circle, though unfortunately there is not much to see there today. 


First excavated in 1950 by the Archaeology Department of Liverpool University and again in the 1960s, the earthworks here stand at 1,147 feet above sea-level (350m). The site comprises of an earth circle 150 feet (46m) in diameter which encloses an inner ditch 1 foot (30.5cm) deep and 10 inches (25.4cm) across. The bank was composed of boulder clay thrown out from the ditch. A hearth was found below the bank at the eastern end.  Some rough flint and chert flakes were also found together with a stone axe of Langdale origin. This is four-and-half inches or 11.4cm wide.  It has a curved cutting edge and a thin rounded head. Its surface is ground smooth but there is no evidence of polishing.

The earthworks at Broadbank have suffered through farming activity over many centuries and the earthen circle is now difficult to see at ground level, though the inner ditch is still visible. The low hillside or, what look like ramparts, at the northern end by the pillbox are probably not in any way connected, though this low bank may have added to the building of the bank. Archaeologists consider the site to be of Iron Age origin.


  1. Liverpool University Archeology Department, Report and pamphlet, 1950.
  2. Powell, J.G.E., “Excavations of a Circular Enclosure at Broadbank, Briercliffe, Lancs,” in Transactions of the Historical Society of Lancashire & Cheshire, 104, 145-151.

Copyright © Ray Spencer, The Northern Antiquarian 2011

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8 thoughts on “Broadbank Earth Circle, Thursden, Burnley, Lancashire.”

  1. Instead of turning right at the WW2 pillbox, turn left, follow the road round and down the hill. Start going up hill, over the cattle grid & keep climbing (on the road) the road plateaus off a little bit, then dips down before climbing again. In that dip on the right hand side is a large rock in the banking – it has a cross carved into it (Alisee Pattee). Can anyone suggest any history behind it??

    1. I’ve got a couple of photo’s of it I took on my phone last Sunday morning, unfortunately not fantastically clear as the stone was a bit wet from the nights rain. I’ve driven & ridden past it many many times over the years and never noticed the carved cross until a couple of years ago – the light must have been just right that time, and maybe I was going slower. Even now I know it’s there I can’t always see the carving from the road.

  2. Okay, thanks for that. You can pop your pics of the stone with a cross on here if you wish. Are you a member of TNA ? Otherwise, its difficult because I would not want to put my email address on here for security reasons. Is there any way I can contact/reach you. Where do you live?

    1. Hi
      I live in Nelson fairly local to the location really – hence having gone past it many times. The stone is visible on Google maps – but not the carving unfortunately. Is TNA on Facebook??

  3. 🙂 Just emailed you the pics – not uber clear unfortunately as the stone was wet fro the previous nights rain – you should be able to make it out on the stone though

  4. Thanks mate, yes I have received the pics. Will have a look at these and let you know what I think of the stone. These things are always interesting, no matter what the age of the carvings. Thanks.

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