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    BLACKBURNSHIRE MOOT

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    BLACKBURNSHIRE MOOT

    Post  Guest on Mon Jan 25, 2010 1:25 pm

    Billinge Hill Summit

    A blue plaque set upon the summit rock commemorates a meeting of the Court of Blackburn Hundred on Billinge Hill in 1429:

    ON MAY 15th, 1429, THE TREE WEEKLY COURT OF THE BLACKBURNSHIRE HUNDRED WAS HELD ON THIS HILL. HERE JOHN NOWELL PAID HOMAGE FOR LAND THAT HE HELD IN GREAT HARWOOD FROM TOMAS HESKETH OF RUFFORD, THE LORD OF THE MANOR OF GREAT HARWOOD.

    This refers to a document held in the Record Office at Preston, here in full:

    A certificate of homage and fealty on Billinge Hill, 1429

    To all those who shall see or hear these letters Robert Laurence knight, sheriff of Lancaster, Thomas of Radclif, knight, Thomas de Vrowyk, receiver of the county of Lancaster, Thomas Laurence, esquire, Elis de Aynesworth, John de Leuesay of Leuesay (Livesey), James Banastre, Richard de Bolton of Loueley, Henry de Shotilworth, Richard de Holton, Henry de Leuesay, Geoffrey de Lyuesay, and Laurence de Legh, greetings in the Lord. Know that on the fifteenth day of May, in the seventh year of the reign of King Henry VI, John Nowell, son and heir of Laurence Nowell, came to a place called Billinge Hill in the town of Witton [Wytton], and there acknowledged well and publicly that he holds certain lands and tenements with the appurtenances in the town of Harwood [Harwod] from Thomas de Hesketh son of Nicholas de Hesketh in chief by knight service and there before us and several men assembled at the same a place at a great muster of all men in the wapentake of Blackburnshire made for the king, John Nowell did his homage to Thomas de Hesketh in this manner, that is, Thomas de Hesketh was seated on a great stone with his hat on his head and John Nowell, kneeling bareheaded before him, turned to face him squarely and held his hands, joined together, between the hands of the said Thomas, and said thus: Sir, I become your man from this day forward and will bear you faith for the tenements which I hold from you in Harwood, saving the faith which I owe to our lord the king. And when John Nowell had said thus, Thomas kissed him; and now a book was set before him, on which John Nowell laid his right hand and said thus: Hear this, Master Thomas de Hesketh, that I, John Nowell, will be loyal and faithful to you, and will bear you faith for the free tenement that I hold of you in Harwood and will perform loyally all the customs and services which I owe to do at the terms assigned, so help me God, and the saints, and then kissed the book, as all the aforesaid persons and all the people there assembled duly saw. In witness whereof to these our letters patent we have set our seals. Given on the day and in the year aforesaid.
    [The document has four tags for seals, which are now missing.]

    (Lancashire County Record Office, MS. DDN/zg [French])

    Clitheroe Castle was the caput of the hundred, and there the hundred court was held every three weeks. The lord of Clitheroe took all the profits and was not accountable for them to the sheriff. This court was vulgarly termed 'the Wapentake court of Blackburnshire,' and dealt chiefly with small pleas of debt and trespass where the amount claimed was less than 40s., but pleas of distraint resisted and other pleas of the Crown and pleas by return of the king's writ could not be dealt with.

    Why the court was held on Billinge Hill and not Clitheroe Castle at that time I do not know, yet a finer spot to overview the ancient Hundred of Blackburn would be hard to find. Perhaps the choice harked back to a time before the Norman Conquest when the hill’s position held a greater importance. It is not unlikely that this strategic position where the Hundred is laid before one on all sides was the original ‘thingwall’ for Blackburnshire.

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    BURIAL MOUND ?

    Post  Guest on Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:05 pm

    A stone axe-hammer and Bronze Age palstave were found very near the summit point of Billinge Hill and may indicate the former position of a burial mound or other (ref: Mark Butler, ‘Full Moon Rise & set in the Blackburn Area’ – a study of ‘Dragon Lines’, 2009)

    NMR Monument Report UI 43738

    NMR Monument Report UI 887120

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