Lancaster Guardian, 25.04.2003
The history of the Lune valley could soon be fully uncovered...
The history of the Lune valley could soon be fully uncovered and according to archaeologist Jo Clark the secrets of the past lay right before our eyes.
Jo is the project manager of a three year initiative on the historic landscape of the Lune Valley and Forest of Bowland and believes that the key to learning more about the area's history lay hi its scenery.
Jo explained: "One of our main aims is to improve our understanding of the historic landscape and this involves looking beyond the individual historic buildings and archeological sites that have preoccupied us in the past.
"The historic dimension of the Lune Valley and Forest of Bowland have been largely overlooked in the past and certainly haven't had the same amount of attention from visitors and archaeologists as other areas such as the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales which have more visible archaeology."
One of the area's most fascinating examples of archaeology lies at Castle Stede in Hornby, which is the county's finest example of a Mott and Bailey castle.
Castle Stede is one of a number of castles built along the Lune Valley by the Normans hi the late llth Century, and although not always striking, the remains of the castle show how the Normans secured the river crossings as they pushed north, shortly after the conquest.
Jo said: "Remains of mott and bailey castles can be found all over the Lune Valley, at Melling, Arkhobne, Kirkby Lonsdale and Halton and were likely to have served their purpose for a short amount of time as the Normans secured land hi the north.
"These castles were made from earth and timber, based around a mound (mott) in the middle with a tower on the top surrounded by the main body of the fortress (the bailey).
"The bailey was an enclosure where you would have found the soldiers, the blacksmith, the stables, the kitchens and various farm animals and would probably have held up to 50 soldiers."
Castle Stede is a scheduled ancient monument protected by English Heritage, and is perhaps the area's most significant archeological feature but according to Jo there is plenty to be learnt about the past by just looking at the surrounding countryside.
Jo said: "The landscape as we know it today is the product of hundreds if not thousands of years of human activity and every house, barn, field boundary, footpath and earthwork has its own story to tell of how this has developed over time."
Jo hopes that the results of the project, run by Lancashire County Council and English Heritage, will lead to a greater knowledge of the area's history by its inhabitants and thus lead to better management of the sites.
Jo said: "We want people to know more about these sites to raise awareness of the landscape and hope that when making changes to the landscape people will be sympathetic to the existing historical pat terns."
For more information about the project, visit the website at www.lancsenvironment.com/archaeology.