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    ROMAN REMAINS, WHALLEY, LANCASHIRE

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    ROMAN REMAINS, WHALLEY, LANCASHIRE

    Post  Guest on Fri Feb 19, 2010 6:32 am

    The casual visitor to Whalley would pass through quickly without a moment’s hesitation, seeing only a bottleneck of parked vehicles, a number of inappropriate shops and a number of alcohol drinking establishments. Yet hidden within this clutter can be found a fine mediaeval church and the extensive remains of a Cistercian abbey, each holding their own charm and secrets.

    Church Lane, probably the oldest street in the village, consists of a row of cottages reflecting many building periods. The one with the name ‘Blue Bell’ used to be the village inn.

    The parish Church of St. Mary and All Saints is usually open to the public from 10 am to 4 pm, with a break for lunch and a good guide book is available, and it is not my intention to replicate its contents here, enough that I draw your attention first to three fragments of masonry from the Roman period.

    1) Built into the inner arch of the north doorway is an inscribed stone:

    *FLAVIUS*VOT*OMPOSU

    Flavius after fulfilment of his vow set this up

    Given the type of inscription one could put this work at c.270. from an altar set up in a temple building.

    2) At the west end of the north aisle can be found a Roman altar stone with a deity carved upon it in high relief. The figure is wearing a ploomed or horned helmet and holds a lance (?) in one hand and a small round shield in the other. This altar bears no inscriptions being damaged and defaced in places.

    3) At the foot of the tower is a large stone block containing a lewis hole and displaying herringbone tooling. This type of tooling technique, in order to give a firm grip for mortar, is very typical of Roman masonry techniques. The lewis hole once held an iron ‘eye’ for the purpose of lifting the stone. More than probably this stone was used as a counter-weight when the Tower was constructed.

    All the above Roman stones were found when digging-out for the foundations of the tower in c.1440. The workmen ‘came across huge blocks of masonry at a depth of four feet, some of which bore figures and inscriptions from the Roman period’. The Roman ‘floor’ provided a good base on which the tower could be built, and fortunately a number of the carved stones were kept to one side. One of these stones is now built into a wall at the nearby Standen Hall, being a stone tablet depicting the figure of a Roman standard-bearer in relief.

    Gravediggers over the years have found many Roman coins in the churchyard with recorded dates belonging to the 1st, 3rd and 4th centuries AD.

    When the memorial garden next to the Bus Station was established, work that involved the demolition of several ancient cottages, Roman pottery and large blocks of masonry were found in the excavation.

    All of the above clearly point to an important Roman settlement at Whalley, a settlement of some status given that a Roman Temple once stood here.

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