The historic landscape of the forest of Bowland & the Lune valley
In 2001 Lancashire County Council and English Heritage started a three-year project about the historic landscape. This is part of a Europe-wide initiative called the European Pathways to the Cultural Landscape (EPCL), which includes twelve projects from ten countries. A joint project funded by the European Union links these together, allowing each to learn from the others by exchanging information and ideas about landscape management and promotion.
The English project will focus on the Forest of Bowland and the Lune Valley in northeast Lancashire. The historic dimension of this culturally distinctive area has been largely overlooked in the past and yet it is coming under increasing pressure for change.
What is the historic landscape?
One of the main aims of the project is to improve our understanding of the historic landscape of the Forest of Bowland and the Lune Valley; this involves looking beyond the individual historic buildings and archaeological sites that have preoccupied us in the past.
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.
Throughout the Forest of Bowland and the Lune Valley a number of historic landscape character types have been identified, as the map to the right shows, and each of these has its own particular characteristics that distinguish it from the rest. For example, Moorland is largely defined by unenclosed land, it is an area rich in prehistoric remains and historically was important for hunting and grazing.
In contrast Ancient Enclosure (land enclosed before AD 1600) tends to occur in areas of lowland or valley pasture and is defined by a patchwork of irregular-shaped fields, an intricate network of footpaths and roads interspersed by farms, hamlets and villages. This has the sense of a more tamed landscape than the upland moor, which despite its careful land management gives the impression of being wild and isolated.
By understanding the historic character of the landscape we can begin to recognize its distinctiveness and historical diversity, which is essential for its sustainable management.
This information has a number of potential uses, which the project hopes to explore. For example, information about the historic landscape can be used to advise agri-environment schemes, village design statements, planning applications, woodland planting and hedgerow boundary proposals.
The human landscape
An important part of the project involves talking to people who live, work and visit this area about their thoughts and opinions of the historic landscape. For example, should the historic character of the landscape be maintained and how can we direct scarce resources to the areas of greatest need?
A series of public meetings are scheduled to take place during 20002/3 where we hope to speak to as many people as possible. Project work with some of the local schools in the area is also anticipated.
The results of the project will be displayed on a web site that will allow the viewer to experience the landscape through virtual reality. It will also include reconstruction paintings that show how the historic landscape has developed over time. In addition two self-guided trails through the historic landscape of the Forest of Bowland and the Lune Valley will be created.
Tell us what you think
We would be grateful for any feedback on the historic environment of the Forest of Bowland and the Lune Valley. Please spare five minutes to fill in our questionnaire, which is available from the address below or on our web site - www.lancsenvironment.com/archaeology. This is your opportunity to tell us what you think is important about the historic environment. We are also interested to learn of any folklore stories that are associated with the Forest of Bowland and the Lune Valley, as this provides an insight into how the landscape has been experienced and interpreted in the past. We look forward to hearing from you.
How to contact us
For further information please contact:
The Historic Landscape Characterisation
Phone: (01772)264025 Fax: (01772) 263423