Spurn Clough, Fence, Higham, Lancashire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SD 8249 3685

Archaeology & History

First noted on 1848 OS-map

Following a request to see if anyone could locate a lost standing stone in Fence (in the Forest of Pendle) not far from my home, I took up the challenge to locate this relic.  One evening in July 2017, I decided to go take a look and having studied all maps I was fairly sure of its old position.  Upon finding the deep ravine and the old field boundaries, I followed the line of old mature beech trees (perhaps 250-300 years old) that shroud the deep clough.  Behind the biggest beech tree, but now some 10 feet down the slope, there I found the said standing stone, now recumbent and partly stuck into the earth due to its weight (approx 1.5 tonne). 

Spurn Clough Stone, laid halfway down the slope

It appears to have either fallen on its own accord as the steep sides of clough are soft clays, unstable and eroding, or it has been pushed out of the way by a previous landowner. It is made of millstone grit and is likely a glacial erratic from off the top of the local fells; it is not of the same type of fine gain flaggy bedrock that exists in the river below.  There are no more similar boulders within the clough other than a few small boulders in the bed of the stream.  This stone is big: being about 4ft by 3ft and 5ft long that is visible, with considerably more into the banking.

Exact position of the stone on the 1893 OS-map

I think it is worth approaching the local landowner to seek his approval to try and re-erect this standing stone in a position away from the crest of the ravine. It obviously was locally important and worthy of noting on the OS Map of 1848 and was not cut up and used as local walling stone, so it either was a boundary marker or held other folklore significance.

Research so far indicates no name is attached to the standing stone, but nearby is a ‘Hoarstones Lodge’ mentioned as a place for the Pendle witches to meet and the ravine and stream is called Spurn Clough, so I feel it apt to name it the Spurn Clough Standing Stone—unless I uncover another name used for the stone.  It’s nice to locate a lost standing stone!

Now I throw open the question: should it be restored to its upright position and made safe from falling down the clough?

© Nick Livsey, The Northern Antiquarian

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2 thoughts on “Spurn Clough, Fence, Higham, Lancashire”

  1. I recently had the good fortune to visit Hoarstones House with a friend. We spent over an hour chatting with the lady who lives there. She said the field where the standing stone was used to be owned by them, but not now. She didn’t seem to know anything about the standing stone. Interestingly, she said the idea of there by a stone circle in the grounds of Hoarstones is “a myth”. We were told that there used to be a quarry at the far side of the estate. Myself and a friend decided to walk down Harpers Lane on the edges of Hoarstones estate. Here we found some old boundary stones, one or two looked to have some age to them as they were smooth. I later noticed a large stone embedded into the wall near the lower end of Harpers Lane. I would say this was almost certainly an old boundary stone or former standing stone. Maybe these old stones came from the quarry in the grounds of Hoarstones, which I am told was originally spelt Whoarstones! So could the Spurn Clough Standing stone be a former boundary stone, like Nick has suggested, and could it have been associated or linked in some way, long ago, with the now forgotten boundary stones that are still evident on the edges of the Hoarstones estate. Food for thought.

  2. You have a similar case on Rooley Moor, the first series shows some stones, probably boundary stones. There was one I saw dumped in an old quarry just to the East of Rooley Moor Road. One of the stones at Hamer looks weathered and “dressed” though what age it might have been is hard to know. Certainly stones were moved fairly recently on Hamer Hill, Rooley Moor (personal opinion of EH officer who visited the site) where a robbing trenches was clearly visible.

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