The Northern Antiquarian Forum

Archaeology, folklore & myth of Britain's pre-christian sites & heritage: stone circles, holy wells, maypoles, tombs, archaic cosmologies and human consciousness. Everyone welcome - even Southerners!

    Megalithic Site, Pendleton near Whalley



    Megalithic Site, Pendleton near Whalley

    Post  Guest on Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:08 am

    The Devils Arrow’s and the lost sisters of the Pendleton Fiddle Stone.

    Could a well known but little visited megalithic site in the Vale of York, suggest the origin of a little known megalith in the Ribble Valley.

    The Devils Arrows consist of three stone monoliths, and are located on Roecliffe Lane on the edge of Boroughbridge. The stones are roughly aligned north/south. Approached from Boroughbridge the tallest megalith stands by the side of the lane on the left hand side. Two slightly smaller megaliths are to be found in the field on the right hand side of the lane. The tallest stone is 22 feet high. Below is a photograph of the stone. For purposes of comparison the figure standing next to the stone is five feet
    ten inches tall. The “Arrows” are undoubtedly an impressive monument.(SE391666)

    It is thought that these megaliths were cut from beds of millstone grit located eight miles away near Knaresborough. The stones were erected about four thousand years ago in the early Bronze Age. The Arrow’s should maybe not be seen in isolation, but part of a larger cult area including the group of henge monuments to the east of Ripon. Sadly the A1(M) motorway runs very close to the site. The motorway obscures the observation that the stones were located very close to the river Ure. The Ure becomes the Ouse then the Humber, the principal river of this geographical region. In ancient times Boroughbridge (Milby) was the highest point of navigation on this river system. Professor Jackson concluded that the river name Ure was of very ancient origin - pre Celtic. Indeed the people who erected the Arrow’s could have known this river as the Ure. The origin of the river name comes from the same root as Urdu. In the context of the Arrows site Ure means the river of the valley (Vale of York). It was undoubtedly the people of the valley - the Ur folk, who erected these monoliths.

    To the casual observer the most curious feature of all three stones are the deep grooves running down each stone, formed by four thousand years of rain.

    It is held that there were once four megaliths at Boroughbridge, but one was removed and now forms part of a bridge across the brook which passes though the town (St Helena Bridge) For those who visit the Arrows, Boroughbridge is a pleasant brick built town with a good selection of café’s and other places of refreshment. At nearby Aldborough remains of the Roman capital of Brigantia are well worth a visit.

    The Pendleton Fiddle Stone is a slab which was once in use as a bridge across the village brook. In early part of the last century the stone was removed and safely stored at Standen Hall. In 2000 the stone was relocated besides the brook at the upper end of the village. Pendleton is sign posted from the A59 Whalley/Clitheroe by pass. The layout of the village is very ancient. The village consists of two rows of cottage/farms facing each other. The village brook runs down the middle of the village. The narrowing of the village street at each end indicates the ancient moor gate and field gate respectively. There has been a settlement on this site for over a thousand years. The road towards Pendle passes to the east of the Fiddle Stone and past a farm building. After the farm but before the church a footpath leads down to the brook which is crossed by a small modern wooden bridge. This was the location of another clam, single slab foot bridge. This majestic ancient stone was broken up by council workers within the last decade. The foot path follows a very ancient route to the ancient settlement of Wymondhouses high on the flank of Pendle. In 1890 the brook was crossed by two fords and two foot bridges. One footbridge is still in place and the second, the Fiddle Bridge, was replaced by the road bridge at the top end of the village.

    The weathering on the Fiddle Stone indicates its ancient origin but exact dating is not possible. However the weathering on both flanks of the stone suggests distant antiquity. The strange shape of the stone indicates that it was not cut to purpose. Indeed it could be argued that the shape of the stone was as a result of natural forces when the stone stood in an upright position for a very long period of time. It is not in the least uncommon for stone artifacts to be reused in later periods. A shaft of stone could always be used as a gate post or incorporated into the fabric of a building.

    In 1905 the Journal of the Darwen Ramblers noted that near the church at Pendleton there stood certain large stones - similar to the one spanning the brook. The existence of the now lost Pendleton stones is linked to the folk tale concerning a giant throwing stones from Pendle towards the castle at Clitheroe. What do these lost stones represent? The first modern map of the village was the original ordinance survey of over one hundred and fifty years ago. Close to the church ruins are indicated, however it transpires that these ruins represent the remains of the parish poor house which once stood on this site. There is no trace of these lost monoliths to be seen today. An intriguing reference in a book by Jessica Lofthouse (The Three Rivers 1948) refers to a single standing stone in the fields above Pendleton. This stone is still in place in a field four hundred yards from the church towards the Nick of Pendle. The stone stands next to a very small dry stone wall enclosure. The tree planted within the enclosure was planted as a memorial to Thomas Bullcock of Clough Head, Twiston. There is no public right of way to this site. The enclosure can be seen in a field west of the Wymondhouses/Pendleton footpath. The stone has weathering which was in legend linked to the hand print of the Devil. The stone is now lying flat. I have inspected the stone and would suggest that the marks are the result of it being exposed to the elements over a long period, when the stone was upright.

    The earliest large scale map of the village shows no indication of any large stones near the church. The plan of the original sale of the land which the parish church was built is held at the Lancashire Record Office. Again there is no reference to any large stones on the site of the church. The field names of the village refer to lost barrows - Umpshill - Imps Hill a common medieval name for a barrow or tumulus. When Jessica Lofthouse recorded these names she could not have expected that a few decades later a Bronze Age burial would be found in the village - at Carriers Croft. Clearly this suggests that a number of barrows once existed hereabouts. Maybe the place name of near by Barrow between Whalley and Clitheroe refers to these lost monuments. It is a fact that in the Bronze Age barrows are often found sited close to ancient megaliths.

    Alas, all we can do is speculate. Pendleton was a Royal Manor at the time of the Norman Survey. Field name and archaeological evidence suggest a cluster of Bronze Age burials. Was the Fiddle stone and the other lost clam bridge salvaged from a lost Megalithic monument? Was the Fiddle Stone used like the fourth Devils Arrow at Boroughbridge to form a bridge? Any information concerning the lost stones from the vicinity of the church might throw light on what is at present just an intriguing possibility. If this monument did exist it would have been a site of regional historic importance.

    Nicholas Thomas, Guide to Prehistoric England, BT Batsford, 1960. Pages 244/5.
    Professor K Jackson, Language and History in Early Britain, 1953-5.
    Jessica Lofthouse The Three Rivers 1948. Pages 55 to 56.
    Lancashire Record Office - Parochial Records & Map Collection.
    David Barrowclough. Prehistoric Lancashire, History Press 2008. Pages 216 to 218.
    Photo Credit Boroughbridge Tim Dixon.
    John Dixon and Phillip Dixon 2009.


    Pendleton Standing Stones

    Post  Guest on Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:59 pm

    “A pretty path follows its little valley (Pendleton Brook/Swardean Clough) to Whymondhouses. In a field nearby is one of the large stones so carelessly hurled by Old Nick on one of his visits to Pendle. He aimed for Clitheroe Castle, but missed, and was so put out by his failure he dropped his apronful of stones (SD 779 394) on the hill.”

    THREE RIVERS, Jessica Lofthouse, Robert Hale Ltd, 1946. pp. 55/6.

    Monday, 14 April, 2009. PENDLETON/LOWERGATE

    I found the above mentioned stone in a field just up from the church on the north side of Pendleton Brook. The stone is large, around 5ft. & bulky, lying on its side displaying water grooves suggesting that it once stood upright (SD 761 394). Several feet away stands an oak tree with a small stone walled square enclosure. Built into the inside wall of this enclosure is a large memorial stone – ‘ THIS OAK WAS PLANTED BY THOMAS BULCOCK ON THE 5th MARCH 1864 IN AFFECTIONATE REMEMBRANCE OF THOMAS PEEL BULCOCK HIS AMIABLE AND BELOVED SON BEING HIS BIRTHDAY’.

    (SD 758 395) Here stands a wooden footbridge over Pendleton Brook. According to a local farmer’s wife a stone clam bridge once stood here. The stone was broken by Ribble Valley Council workmen some years ago & replaced by the wooden bridge. In the river by the bridge are several large stones, but a closer inspection is needed to determine if they were once part of the said clam bridge.

    ‘Fiddle Bridge’ stands at the top of the main street in Pendleton, just opposite the old Post Office. The bridge displays water grooves suggesting that it once stood upright & is approx. 14ft. in length (SD 757 395).


    Mention of a second 'devil stone' above Pendleton

    Post  Guest on Wed Dec 30, 2009 3:12 am

    In her book on North Country Folklore Jessica mentions a second stone displaying 'the devil's thumb and finger mark', being pointed out to her by the then farmer at Wymondhouses.

    I shall search out his stone in the New Year.

    Join date : 2009-08-20
    Location : Yorkshire

    Re: Megalithic Site, Pendleton near Whalley

    Post  Paulus on Wed Dec 30, 2009 2:10 pm

    lowergate wrote:In her book on North Country Folklore Jessica mentions a second stone displaying 'the devil's thumb and finger mark', being pointed out to her by the then farmer at Wymondhouses.

    That'd be the one that's somewhere hereabouts wouldn't it?

    I found the same reference in Lofthouse's book a few years back, and it struck me as having one of those folklore motifs hinting at a cup-marked stone. When I found it described again in a couple of other works, the suspicion grew - though I still aint managed to gerrof mi backside and check it out! (though not having a car doesn't help I s'ppose)

    If you get there in the near future John, rub the stone thoroughly in search of any potential cup-markings! It might just be one of those boulders of animistic inspiration - y' just never know! Smile

    atb - Paul


    Re: Megalithic Site, Pendleton near Whalley

    Post  Guest on Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:38 pm

    Yes, that's the map

    I am taking a group from Clitheroe/Sabden on the 27th January to view the Devil's Footprints, Apronfull of Stones, Jeppe Knave Grave and the stones around Pendleton - I will make use of the group as a 'search party' to try and locate the second stone ...



    Join date : 2009-08-20
    Location : Yorkshire

    Re: Megalithic Site, Pendleton near Whalley

    Post  Paulus on Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:50 pm

    lowergate wrote:...I am taking a group from Clitheroe/Sabden on the 27th January to view the Devil's Footprints, Apronfull of Stones, Jeppe Knave Grave and the stones around Pendleton - I will make use of the group as a 'search party' to try and locate the second stone ...

    Best o' luck finding it John. Let us know if there's prehistoric about it!

    cheers - Paul

    Sponsored content

    Re: Megalithic Site, Pendleton near Whalley

    Post  Sponsored content

      Current date/time is Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:29 am