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

Spurn Clough stone

loading map - please wait...

Spurn Clough stone 53.827589, -2.267543 Spurn Clough stone

Newchurch-in-Pendle, Lancashire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SD 822 387

Also Known as:

  1. Pendle Stone Circle

Archaeology & History

A destroyed site mentioned by several local historians. It was positioned at the valley bottom just below Faughs, a hundred yards west of Lower Moss End, where today it is simply overgrown meadows with the typical excess of Juncus reeds.  As local investigator John Dixon said, there are “five stones shown on (the 1848) map just west of Spen Brook Mill.”

In the 1970s, one writer described there being several uprights still in place, but a visit here a few weeks back (though I – unusually! – didn’t walk all through the boggy grounds and explore as extensively as I normally would) found nothing.

Its geomancy, however, was striking. The unnamed hill immediately to the north of its position (at the southern end of the legendary Pendle Hill, a coupla hundred yards west of St. Mary’s church) rises up like a great singular ‘pap’ which, to our old ancestors, was animated with female spirit. I sat here in the pouring rain looking up at this hill and its presence in front of the circle was striking.

…And so I walked onto the top of the said hill. Thereupon I found a small gathering of rocks, not unlike a cairn-spoil. When I enquired with a few local people about the age or nature of this rock-pile, I found no-one seemed aware of its existence. Weird. But from the hill itself, the view is excellent – and the small valley amidst which the old circle once stood teems with legends and myth: of cailleachs, ghosts, wells, witches and more. An excellent spot!

The local writer, historian and walker, John Dixon, sent us the following notes of his exploration here:

“Clifford Byrne, the late Nelson antiquarian, mentions in his book ‘Newchurch in Pendle’ the site of a former stone circle that stood just below Faughs, a hundred yards west of Lower Moss End. Today no large stones of any kind can be located anywhere near this spot, the stones having been removed or broken up some time in the past. However, the 1848 6” OS map records the number and position of these stones as being in two parallel lines about a hundred yards apart lined up west to east. The northerly line (SD 823 389) consists of 3 stones, the southerly (SD 823 387) of 4 stones, all being some 3 yards apart.

“It appears that we have an avenue of stones, not a circle. But why their position in the landscape at the headwaters of two valley streams? The Sabden Brook starts its journey westward to meet with the Calder from the stones, while Dimpenley Clough rises from the stones running east to join Pendle Water – could this be of any significance?”

References:

  1. Byrne, Clifford, Newchurch-in-Pendle: Folklore, Fact, Fancy, Legends and Traditions, Marsden Antiquarians: Nelson 1982.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Newchurch-in-Pendle circle

loading map - please wait...

Newchurch-in-Pendle circle 53.844555, -2.271236 Newchurch-in-Pendle circle