Palaeolithic sites include Kinsey and Victoria Caves, Kirkhead Cave and Lindale Low. Horace the Elk was discovered in Poulton in the 1980’s. Analyses showed he is 12,000 years old, his injuries providing evidence he had been hunted by our earliest ancestors with barbed spear heads. Horace is currently on display in the Harris museum.
Most Mesolithic sites are located on hills, coastal lowlands and beside rivers. Evidence includes flints and shallows left by buildings. Rushy Brow on the Anglezarke moors is a site of national importance. Found on Storrs and Pilling Moss, wooden track ways resemble the Somerset levels in Glastonbury.
During the Neolithic period people began to grow crops and domesticate animals. Sites include burial mounds and caves. Pike Stones, a chambered long cairn on the Anglezarke moors, unrobbed or ruined might have been renowned as Wayland’s Smithy. In Dog Holes Caves, Silverdale the remains of 140 bodies were found, along with animal bones and accessories. John mentioned the Preston Dock Finds, a collection of human skulls, animal bones, dug out canoes and a timber structure, providing evidence of habitation of the marshland close to the Ribble. In Pilling the head of a woman was discovered wearing a necklace of jet and amber, the intricate craftsmanship suggesting she was of high ranking within her tribe.
Bronze Age sites include stone circles, such as the concentration on the moors above Burnley. Summer House, in Silverdale, is a barrow the Victorians built a summer house on top of (!). The stone circle surrounding it is 140m in diameter, making it the third largest in the UK. Bleasdale timber circle, north of Beacon Fell, was composed of a large wooden palisade and smaller inner circle surrounding a pair of burials surrounded by birch logs. Cairns include those on Noon and Winter Hills on the Anglezarke moors.
John concluded by discussing Iron Age hill fort sites. People began fortifying their dwellings at this time as the weather grew colder and land more difficult to farm, meaning they needed to protect their possessions. During this period Northern Britain was composed of a tribal confederation known as the Brigantes, governed by the warrior queen Cartimandua. The tribal sept in Lancashire was the Setantii. Major hill fort sites include Portfield, Warton Crag and Castle Stead. However less known sites exist in Preston, such as Frenchwood Knoll and Brockholes.
John’s talk illustrated what an incredible amount of Prehistory we have on our doorstep. Within walking distance of Preston there are sites where our earliest ancestral lived, where we can visit, meditate, journey, or use any other method we feel comfortable with to connect to our ancestral past. Bleasdale Timber Circle is 12 miles north of Preston, and Pike Stones, and the whole sacred landscape of the Anglezarke Moors 12 miles south, within cycling distance. Silverdale, with its caves, barrows and fairy legends is only a 35 mile drive away. These are hugely important parts of our pagan heritage, which are often ignored, or obscured by more popular places and events. I’m hoping John’s talk will inspire pagan soc members to visit some of them.