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    PORTFIELD HILL FORT, WHALLEY, LANCASHIRE - an unlikely hill fort?

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    PORTFIELD HILL FORT, WHALLEY, LANCASHIRE - an unlikely hill fort?

    Post  Guest on Tue Nov 24, 2009 9:35 am

    Portfield the unlikely hill fort.

    Evidence of long-distance trading is overwhelming from ancient times. Consideration of the economic dimension is essential if we are going to have any understanding of the past. The distribution of polished stone axes from the Langdale axe factories suggests long distance trade in very ancient times, which we might not readily associate with economic activity. The development of metal technology saw tin, copper and gold traded over long distances. The maintenance of life would have required the trading of other commodities, of which salt is the most obvious. The main sources of tin, gold and copper in north-west Europe are located in Cornwall, Ireland and North Wales. These products would have been traded eastwards into the mainland continent. This long distance precious product trade would have been supplemented by more regional trade in more common commodities such as food and slaves.

    The landscape of Lancashire can be described as a natural geographical unit bounded by the Irish Sea coast to the west, and the Pennine hills to the east. River valleys run from the hills to the sea. The Mersey/Irwell forms the southern boundary, and the valley of the Lune defines the boundary with the Lake District. If we are looking for an east /west trade route, the only low level pathway across the Pennines would utilise the valleys of the Ribble/Calder in the west, and the Aire/Wharfe in the east. The discovery of Bronze Age sea-going craft in the Humber mud flats suggests a trans-North Sea trade from this estuary. Suggestions for a potential natural harbour on the Lancashire coast are limited by geographical features. In Morecambe Bay traitorous sands would discourage all but the most confident navigator. Sand hills backed by water logged land dominated much of the coast north and south of the Ribble. It is in fact the Ribble which suggests itself as a natural haven.

    In Roman and Norman times evidence of economic activity can be cited on the south bank of the Ribble at Walton and Penwortham. The establishment of the administrative centre of the Palatine County north of the Ribble circa 1200, transferred economic activity away from the south side of the river. Though Preston clearly stands astride the western Pennine north/south trade route, the other ancient trade route from Preston was eastwards into the Ribble valley.

    The Ribble and Pendle Ridgeway’s

    From ancient times the western route from Preston followed the north bank of the Ribble before crossing the river east of Ribchester at Little Town or Hacking Ford. Paths then converged on the Calder ford at Whalley. A more ancient route can be traced from Walton le Dale via Billinge, Wiltshire, and Billington Moor to converge again on the ford at Whalley. This high level route is the Ribble Ridgeway. From the ford at Whalley the route eastwards divided into a low level route via Clitheroe - the Lincoln Road, and a high level route through the Forrest of Pendle the Pendle Ridge Way. Because the structure of the Lancashire landscape is in this context unchanging, there is no reason to think that these trade routes evidenced for over a thousand years, were very much different in say the Iron or Bronze Age. We say this with confidence because the hills do not move.

    Portfield Camp

    The significance of Portfield Camp is its location. From Walton, the highest tidal point on the Ribble, it is only a day’s journey. Ancient east/west routes converge on the ford at Whalley in the steep valley below Portfield. To the east small enclosures are to be found in Craven and at Colne, again a days journey eastwards. The fact that they are small is significant; they have all very limited defensive value. From Portfield the western prospect over the Calder valley has clear defensive potential. Remains of what must have been a modest rampart are visible on the northern and southern flanks of the enclosure. There is a gradual upward slope directly to the east of the enclosure - this would have compromised defence in this direction. A traveler coming up from the ford in the valley may well have been impressed by the enclosure. However, its defensive potential from a determined enemy was very limited. Castercliffe poses similar problems. The area within the ramparts is so small that a determined attacker could easily neutralise the defenders with sling or arrow shot. Returning to Whalley, other adjacent hills and positions on hills have far greater defensive potential but were not utilised. The significance of Portfield is that the routes through Pendle and into the Calder valley pass the enclosure. The position of the enclosure dominates this junction of the Calder valley with the Ribble valley and the strategic fords at Whalley. The enclosure can not be understood without reference to these factors.

    The evidence of archaeology

    The discipline of archaeology, one of the many tools available to the historian and anthropologist, tends to confirm the negative when in operation on its own. Therefore though archaeological research shows activity on this site over a long period, there will never be evidence of continuous occupation. The discovery of flint working within the site of the enclosure is probably coincidental, especially when we consider how many such random sites have been identified of late. As one old cynic commented –‘give anybody a grant and a site and they always turn up worked flints at some stage...’

    During the laying of a pile line in 1966 a Bronze Age smith’s hoard including two gold items was discovered within the fort. Excavation in the 1960’s and 1980’s revealed two stages of construction about the time of the late Bronze Age/ Early Iron Age. The 1980’s research suggested buildings inside the enclosure as evidenced by post holes. A single Roman artifact found on the site is probably a casual deposit. The discovery of Roman coins and other items suggest that in Roman times Whalley on the riverside became of more local significance. Portfield emerges in the medieval period as a grange of Whalley Abbey. Whalley and Portfield are in the same civil parish, a significant relationship which hints at a wider territorial system of land organisation.
    A society that depends on grazing tends to be less settled than a predominately arable economy. Control of the behaviour of individuals is more difficult in forested hill uplands. Though we can never be completely sure, Portfield could well represent a staging post on a well established ancient trade route, a place of safety, a day’s journey from the sea. It would surely be a place of exchange, both social and economic. This was no simple hill fort.

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    PENDLE RIDGEWAY

    Post  Guest on Tue Nov 24, 2009 9:41 am

    The Pendle Ridgeway

    Part of a Pan-Eurasian Highway, a trade route that ran from Ireland to China.

    Settled farming in the Neolithic period brought with it the need for regular tracks between farm and pasture, between farms, and for longer distances to tribal gathering-places (Ilkley/Rombalds Moor), and even right across country for trade; products of the Cumbrian axe-factories reached as far as Wessex. For the Bronze Age period trade-routes have been distinguished by finds of objects along them, as for instance that from the mouth of the Ribble through the Aire gap along the Wharfe ridges (‘Rombalds Way’), across the Vale of York or Escrick to the Wolds and the coast.

    From this time on, and reaching a full development in the Iron Age, trackways along the ridges were in use. Some of these are well known, like the Icknield Way at the foot of the Chilterns, the ‘Pilgrims Way’ on the North Downs, and shorter ones like the Ridgeways of Dorset. These are now represented by footpaths, bridleways, and modern roads.

    The Pendle Ridgeway was an important route between the Portfield defensive promontory enclosure and the defensive earthwork of Castercliffe above Colne. The track runs along the flanks of Pendle, then by way of Newchurch and Barrowford to the earthwork above Ringstones. Castercliffe is placed in a strategic position at the convergence of a number of ancient trade routes the most important being the ridgeway to the large hillfort at Almondbury above Huddersfield to the south-east.

    As for this moorland track being part of a ‘Pan-Eurasian Highway’ we know that gold from Ireland and copper from Anglesey was transported across the Pennines to the mouth of the Humber and into Europe via the River Rhien, and from there to the Black Sea where the Silk Road and the migration routes of steppe peoples from beyond the Caspian and Aral Seas entered Europe. On the back of trade and migration come culture, technology, agricultural methods and evolution along Earth’s pathway. The spine and flanks of the Pendle Massif enabled this movement of life to a time that is now – a time of changes, a time of healing, a time of Unity.
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    Greenman

    Join date : 2013-11-02

    Re: PORTFIELD HILL FORT, WHALLEY, LANCASHIRE - an unlikely hill fort?

    Post  Greenman on Sat Nov 02, 2013 6:58 am

    Guest wrote: A more ancient route can be traced from Walton le Dale via Billinge, Wiltshire, and Billington Moor to converge again on the ford at Whalley. This high level route is the Ribble Ridgeway.... a high level route through the Forrest of Pendle the Pendle Ridge Way.
    I have never seen any reference to this route anywhere else but here. Since first reading about this here,very intrigued ive done a bit of my own research over the past few years, fieldwalking and searching old maps etc.
    At this time one of my favourite "theories" (and thats all it is, please feel free to challenge this im not attempting to write history) is that there may have existed a Brigantian route from Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire via castercliffe hillfort to Portfield hillfort over Billington moor (Blackburn old road) through Brownhill Blackburn on to Revidge and Billinge hill following the very straight ridgeway on the modern "Billinge end road" to where it changes its course dramatically at "Temple close". At this point im currently in two minds whether this ancient route forked at this same point, one road continuing down to Walton Le Dale and one route turning south and continuing to take the upland over Brindle and running close to the possible (most probable) Brigantian Hillfort at Hawksclough on to Blackrod which is another possible hillfort and then maybe down via Wigan to the mersey at the crossing of Latchford. which must have been the most south western crossing point into the Kingdom of Brigantia. (The southern border of Brigantia most likely being the north bank of the Humber in the East to the north bank of the Mersey in the West.

    Not impossible but certainly an even bigger long shot is that the recurring "Bill" names along route, Billinge and Billington (whalley nab originally was named "Bellestenab" have nothing to do with the personal Anglo Saxon name of the "Billings" but actually derive their names from the mythical King Belinus who as Overlord of the entire Island of Britain supposedly had two diagonal roads constructed way back in the the 4th century BC. .....Yes I did say it was a long shot, a nice idea at the least?
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    QDanT

    Join date : 2011-05-29
    Location : Earby used to be in Yorkshire

    Re: PORTFIELD HILL FORT, WHALLEY, LANCASHIRE - an unlikely hill fort?

    Post  QDanT on Sun Nov 03, 2013 4:37 am

    spot-on just the sort of post needed on TNA
    keep up the good work cheers


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    Greenman

    Join date : 2013-11-02

    Re: PORTFIELD HILL FORT, WHALLEY, LANCASHIRE - an unlikely hill fort?

    Post  Greenman on Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:46 am

    QDanT wrote:spot-on just the sort of post needed on TNA
    keep up the good work cheers
    I reckon any sort of post is what is needed on TNA, this place is hardly a hive of activity which is a shame.


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    QDanT

    Join date : 2011-05-29
    Location : Earby used to be in Yorkshire

    well i get out and post

    Post  QDanT on Mon Nov 04, 2013 2:56 pm



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    tracyreed

    Join date : 2011-01-26

    Hi Greenman

    Post  tracyreed on Tue Jan 28, 2014 1:59 am

    The road does divert at Temple Close, it goes through the golf farm, lodge farm and over the ford through Causeway form.  From there it passes through Wicken farm, to Windy Harbour farm at Brinscall, then Causeay farm at Heapey off to Wigan.
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    Paulus

    Join date : 2009-08-20
    Location : Yorkshire

    Re: PORTFIELD HILL FORT, WHALLEY, LANCASHIRE - an unlikely hill fort?

    Post  Paulus on Wed Jan 29, 2014 2:00 pm

    Hiya Greenman!

    Check out Raistrick's Green Roads of the Pennines, Cowling's Rombald's Way (which proposes an east-west sea-to-sea route, similar to your own thru West Yorks) and have you looked at the road-maps in Roman Roads in Britain? (can't recall the author of the last one, but we know many of their roads were built onto earlier routes). There was another one done on the ancient roads of Yorkshire, but it aint been out of its box for a few years & I can't recall the info.

    Local antiquarian journal accounts such as the Lancs & Cheshire Ant. + the Halifax Antiquarian + Yorkshire Archaeo Journal would each be worth delving into aswell. Just ditch the oft-repeated monotony of them as "trade routes" and there could be summat in y' proposal.  Wink 
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    Greenman

    Join date : 2013-11-02

    Re: PORTFIELD HILL FORT, WHALLEY, LANCASHIRE - an unlikely hill fort?

    Post  Greenman on Sat Feb 22, 2014 9:52 am

    tracyreed wrote:The road does divert at Temple Close, it goes through the golf farm, lodge farm and over the ford through Causeway form.  From there it passes through Wicken farm, to Windy Harbour farm at Brinscall, then Causeay farm at Heapey off to Wigan.

    Ive looked for traces of it myself but to no avail. Charles hardwick seemed to think it ran from Wigan to either Mellor or Blackburn, he said that a portion of this road had been uncovered in Adlington near Chorley though he didn't say exactly where and I can find no other references to it anywhere else.

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    Greenman

    Join date : 2013-11-02

    Re: PORTFIELD HILL FORT, WHALLEY, LANCASHIRE - an unlikely hill fort?

    Post  Greenman on Sat Feb 22, 2014 9:55 am

    Paulus wrote:Hiya Greenman!

    Check out Raistrick's Green Roads of the Pennines, Cowling's Rombald's Way (which proposes an east-west sea-to-sea route, similar to your own thru West Yorks) and have you looked at the road-maps in Roman Roads in Britain? (can't recall the author of the last one, but we know many of their roads were built onto earlier routes). There was another one done on the ancient roads of Yorkshire, but it aint been out of its box for a few years & I can't recall the info.

    Local antiquarian journal accounts such as the Lancs & Cheshire Ant. + the Halifax Antiquarian + Yorkshire Archaeo Journal would each be worth delving into aswell. Just ditch the oft-repeated monotony of them as "trade routes" and there could be summat in y' proposal.  Wink 
    Thanks Paulus, I will indeed find those works as I find the topic of old roads fascinating.

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