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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!




    Post  Guest Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:53 am

    The Pendle Ridgeway

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

    Settled farming, the domestication of plants and animals*, 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.

    (* This led to population increases and the expansion of the areas where farming was practised, and in turn to the development of territorial regions/ ritual locations and the concept of ‘boundaries’.)

    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 (an important node on overlapping trade networks positioned near the central cantrev of a territorial region – Whalley/Blackburnshire*) and the defensive earthwork of Castercliffe above Colne (another important trade route node). 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.

    (*Other important nodes would be positioned on the edges of territorial regions, i.e.: Black Dyke Enclosure, Brogden Detached – Blackburnshire/Craven, and ritual locations i.e.: Anglszarke, Bradley Moor and Ilkley Moor)

    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. This all implies the creation of a complex economic structure that originated in the Neolithic period:

    ‘The surplus of home-grown products must not only suffice to exchange for exotic materials: it must support a body of merchants and transport worker engaged in obtaining these and a body of specialised craftsmen to work the precious imports to the best advantage. And soldiers would be needed to protect the convoys and back up the merchants by force, scribes to keep records of transactions growing ever more complex and state officials to reconcile conflicting interests.’ (Man Makes Himself, V. Gordon Childe, 1936)

    I suggest that the relationship between the various territorial divisions may have been organised along similar lines as the 12th century Baltic trade of the Hanseatic League – one of mutual association.

    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.

    Last edited by lowergate on Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:04 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : 'Hanseatic League' insert)

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