Then we drive up to the Moor parking the cars at Jameston Quarry Visitor Centre (toilets) on the Grane Road SD 752 232. then walk on the moor to visit Dry Hill Barrow. Then on to view Thirteen Stone Circle following the ancient (c.1100) Forest of Rossendale boundary dyke, finding as we go stumps of birch and oak trees from Bronze Age times – we can all take home a branch of this ancient woodland exposed due to the peat erosion. Examine the position of the stones and take in the landscape. Return via the ‘Rossendale Way’ footpath to the Visitor Centre. All day lunch available at the Grain Pub for around £5.
A deteriorating climate in the second millennium BC, with increasing rainfall and lower temperatures, led to waterlogging on the plateaux of the Pennines, and to a weakening and thinning of the woodland cover. The supposition is that as the woodlands died, peat began to form, leading in turn to increased waterlogging which exacerbated the vegetation change. But at the same time there was a major increase in human activity, as population grew and pastoral agriculture became more widespread. Cattle and sheep were grazed in the edges of the woodlands, and the grazing prevented any regrowth of woodland or scrub cover (a phenomenon well-attested in the area up to the present day). For the next four thousand years, therefore, a combination of increasingly intensive grazing and the waterlogging from the ever-thicker peat deposits prevented any return to the ‘natural’ vegetation of the uplands—though with the decline of grazing during the past hundred years, woodland cover has begun to re-emerge on a modest scale at many sites throughout the West Pennine Moors.
The striking find, in the nineteenth century, of a Bronze Age or early Iron Age severed female head in Red Moss near Horwich (a variant on the more familiar ‘bog body’) implies that there is much yet to be discovered