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No.209 February 2018

Monthly Newsletter

Pipeline Confusion

LiDAR is a great prospecting tool and many archaeological sites have been found with it in recent years. However it can been misleading, as we found recently after various people spotted parallel straight lines on LiDAR images of the supposed Roman road route passing Healey Nab, east of Chorley. As mentioned in our April Newsletter (No.201) we have been interested in a possible Roman road running, from Wigan to Ribchester for some time.

Heapey Fold Lane, which runs past Healey Nab on the east side, seems to be on the right alignment. It turns out that the LiDAR images are the results of the excavations for a high pressure gas pipeline put in many years ago. It still doesn't mean to say, however, that this wasn't the route of the Roman road. In 1962 Chorley Archaeological Society carried out a small excavation on it and found a cobbled surface and kerbing which they thought may be evidence for the road (you can see details of their work here.)

It's not the first time we've been fooled by a long distance pipe line. Images from Google Earth and Bing maps show a distinctive straight line running diagonally across fields to the east of Mort Lane on the east side of Tydelsley. This was almost precisely where the Roman road is shown on the 6" OS map (1860's edition). In 2011 we had been carrying out a resistivity survey on the line as shown going through a field at Cleworth Hall (see Newsletters Nos. 142 and 149) when we noticed this marking. On a field visit later in the year however, we soon realised this was the route of the gas pipeline after spotting the telltale white post markers.

Programme for 2018

A number of speakers have been booked now, starting with Ian Trumble in March with an update on the new developments with Bolton Museum's Egyptian collection. In April, Judith Atkinson will be presenting a talk on the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal entitled 'Building the Big Ditch'. In May, John Trippier will be returning with a talk on the Pre-history of the West Pennine Moors. Later on in the year (September) Norman Redhead will be talking about the Castleshaw Roman Fort Hinterland Project, and in October, Sue Stallibrass from Historic England will be telling us about the issues of local supply to the Roman Army in the North West. We are also arranging a trip in early July to Ribchester where Dr Duncan Sayer from UCLAN will be continuing his excavations there (date to be arranged). Also, after the success of last years trip to Orkney, another overnight stay event has been suggested (options include Ireland, Lincoln and Northumbria - other suggestions welcome).


Our project at Toddington Lane has finished for now but there is still potential on this site and we may well return in the near future. This year we are hoping to return to Brimelow Farm where we discovered the Roman road in 2003. However this time we will be investigating the features revealed in our 2016 GPR survey (Newsletter No. 198). We have also been asked to do more work on the Dark Lane site at Blackrod, i.e. test pitting just to confirm or otherwise the negative geophysics results. The search for the river lock (Newsletter No. 206) is still ongoing with Alan Roper from the Appley Bridge Residence Association progressing with a bid for funding (his target date for excavation is May this year). Finally (last but not least) we have been given permission to carry out a Historic Graffiti survey of St Wilfred's Parish Church in Standish. The date has yet to be arranged but we are hoping to carry it out towards the end of this month.

Next Meeting

Wednesday 7th February. - in the Standish Suite at the Brocket Arms (7.30pm as usual). As it's the beginning of the year we will be having our usual AGM but as before, after the formalities, there will be a presentation. In November Patrick, our chairman, gave a well received presentation of our Toddington Lane project to the GM Federation Day at Salford. He will be repeating his performance but with added detail including our recent geophysics work at Blackrod. Hope to see you then - BA.