Dark Lane

The suspected Roman road from Wigan to Ribchester, if projected northwards through Toddington Lane, suggests it would have crossed or reached the western edges of the ridge on which Blackrod is sat. As it happens local historians, Alan Bury and his father, have been looking at early reports of a Roman road leading westerly out of Blackrod towards the river Douglas. Hampson’s History of Blackrod (1882) suggests the possibility of a Roman station around the area known as Little Scotland, quite near to a new development on Hill Lane called Romans Green (presumably on the strength of this reference).The 1840 Tithe Map for Blackrod does identify a Roman road, leading out of Blackrod to the northwest, through a farm called Goodmans Fold, but on what evidence is unclear. This is the track Alan has used for his alignment suggesting it aligns with a section of Dark Lane and then Hill Lane. It crosses our projection in a field just to the west of Dark lane. Most of the area to the north and west of Dark Lane was open cast in the 1950’s but this field seems to have escaped the destruction.  Alan contacted us at the beginning of 2017 to see if a geophysics survey would turn anything up.

View north along the Toddington Lane alignment toward Adlington with Healey Nab in the distance and Anglezarke moors on the right.

Encouragingly, through field walking and LiDAR, Alan was able to identify at least one possibly two linear features running across the field along his alignment.

View looking southeast back towards Blackrod showing linear features.

One of these features could, however, turn out to be remains of a temporary path put in when the field boundary and right-of-way path were both removed from the adjacent field. The current path and right-of-way has now been reinstated down fence line on the south side of the field.

It was only at the end of the year in November 2017 that we were able to arrange a survey of the field but we were able to use both resistivity and GPR. Unfortunately the GPR machine available from Sygma was only capable of 2D scans, which meant an area survey with this machine was not possible. However, it did mean we could cover a much larger area. Here are the results of our surveys.

ResistivityDisappointingly nothing showed up on our alignment – not even the old 1849 field boundary. However it seems the temporary path was detected and Alan was encouraged by two features seemingly running roughly in the direction of his alignment, although these look suspiciously like field drains. Just to note, the dark patch on the right side of the scan indicates an area of low resistivity which is probably due to water collecting where the field drops away it a shallow hollow.

GPRWe carried out a number of scans across the field, all however with similar results. The best was this long scan across the diagonals of the field which was intended to capture both alignments. Again the only thing that showed up was in the area of the temporary path, although it does indicate something that is more than 10 metres in width and at a depth of between 30cm and 60cm. This is substantial bigger than a path but whether it’s anything of particular significance, only an excavation will tell. Fortunately Alan has secured permission from the landowner for a dig which hopefully we will be able to carry out next year.