Scout Moor Archaeology

Introduction – Under Construction…

This post will briefly cover the historical background to the area, (including the Forest of Rossendale) to better understand the context of the many archaeological sites in and around Scout Moor.

Exciting Discoveries

There are some exciting newly discovered sites to reveal. As in the case of the adjacent Rooley Moor, the area has never had a thorough archaeological survey, perhaps that is an understatement.

See for Yourself (from the comfort of your browser)

Select one of the links below to see sites of Farmsteads Fecit Lane and Coal Road: (centered on SD 81852 17717).

To the North of these on Higher Hill (This site is not on any OS maps as far as I know).

The feature is best viewed with Microsoft Bing Maps birds eye view.

See the sites in Fecit Lane and Coal Rd. as they were in 1851 (surveyed 1844 to 1848) on and old OS map of Lancashire LXXX.

Wind farm road cuts ancient ditch called Man Road Ditch,  of unknown date or purpose.


Before the wind farm

Medieval and other documentation for this area

The extensive body of medieval documentation for the area has been largely ignored by archaeological surveys of the area. This has been covered here.

Missed Sites

Some of the sites archaeological surveys of the adjacent areas have missed include:

  • A ruined medieval manor house (Naden Head) complete with earthworks and early wall
  • Several prehistoric burial sites, including a prominent site on Hunger Hill (see the picture at the beginning of this blog.)
  • Prehistoric Fields on Rooley Moor
  • Several early farmsteads, such as Birchen Holts


There was a vaccary (medieval cattle ranch) somewhere in Cowpe, location not yet verified.

Scout Moor lies mostly in what was the NW of Spotland, a township in the parish of Rochdale, and in what was Bury Parish.

These are the historical areas (which were all in Lancashire), modern boundaries are very different; with the area now divided between Greater Manchester and Lancashire (Rossendale district).


Lancashire Forests and the Forest of Rossendale

Newbiggin – History of the Forrest of Rossendale

Medieval Forests – The Lancashire Antiquarian

Springhill website

Aerial Photographs

Google Maps

Lancashire’s Mario map site

Microsoft Bing maps

HER (Historic Environment Record)

Greater Manchester HER


Forum on Information Standards in Heritage (FISH) Thesauri

Under Construction…!


British Geological Survey – Essential Data for Archaeological Surveys

Researching the geological context for your archaeological survey is essential.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) has hundreds of data sets to address the main questions a survey needs to answer;

  1. What processes (glaciation fault lines) led to the landscape you are exploring, how did this influence settlement patterns?
  2. Were mineral deposits (such as coal or iron ore) or quarry stone used in the area/period you are researching?
  3. How did soil formation effect (light soils sandy soils easier to plough )  land use?
  4. How  drainage/hydrology effect farming/fishing and transport routes.
  5. Will the surface geology effect geophysical survey surveys?



Game of Drones – Archaeological Aerial Photography by Quadcopter

A ‘game changer’, we are going to use a quadcopter to photograph existing, and reveal new medieval and earlier archaeological sites!

Jeff will be our pilot! He has already delivered outstanding views that show sites in a whole new light!

Where to start?

  • Get a base map of 1st series OS maps, National Library of Scotland have a fine site for this purpose.
  • Check the drift geology of the area (Geological Suvey)
  • See existing aerial photographs of areas of interest
  • Check for any old sites that are recorded but never photographed.
  • Use previously published criteria to locate special areas of interest.
  • Lidar photos may be available, check them is possible (English Heritage have some available)

Suitable Drones

Often called “quadcopters” if they have four motors, the most common format for affordable flying.

I will add to this list from time to time:

  • TBS Discovery used by guess who?!
  • DJI Phatom – a popular quadcopter for taking aerial photos
  • Quadcopters shop in UK – I have no connection with them, so for information only!

Take Off


Thanks to Jeff we have made significant discoveries, more soon!

Further Reading

Aerial Survey – English Heritage

Aerial Archaeology – BBC


Under construction…

An Aid For Your Own Discoveries

Part of key to Ordnance Survey Maps 1st Series

National Library of Scotland

Great site for old OS(Ordnance Survey)  maps of the UK, including detailed maps of Lancashire, here.


The most useful for archaeological work, which contain sites omitted from current maps are:

  • County Series 25 inch / 1:2,500 – 1841-1952
  • County Series 6 inch / 1:10,560 – 1842-1952.


Rochdale’s Other Castle

The 1626 Rochdale Manor survey mentions a lesser known “castle” place-name, it is recorded as “Thrustcastel” which means the “leppers castle”. There is a  “castle” is marked on the first series OS map, but this has been cut through by the M62 and is further east than the Newhey site.


I think this is “Thrustcastell” a prominent hill clearly visible just south of the M62 motorway at Newhey, it has a base station on top.

It looks like the product of glacial processes but it could have been used in earlier times or maybe the glacial sand soil was good farmland!

You can see for yourself on Google Earth or Microsoft Bing Maps. It is just north of Newhey at SD936120.

What do you think?






I just got confirmation (Monday 24th March)  that you can now download documents relating to farmsteads in the North West of England. They (parts 1-3) are available from the HELM – Historic Environment Local Management website here.

Essential background reading for Pennine Lancashire, history and archaeology. Particularly of interest is this summary of medieval NW England settlement:

“The 12th and 13th centuries were characterised by rising
population, the colonisation of new land (through the
drainage of fens, clearance of woods and expansion of
farming on to upland moors) and the direct commercial
management by estates of their land, whether this was
dispersed among other holdings or ring-fenced in its
own boundaries.The Church was a particularly active
landlord, and monastic orders such as the Cistercians ran
their estates from both home (or demesne) farms and
outlying granges, which could be very large in scale
(commonly 3 to 1000 acres in size). Climatic changes in
the second decade of the 14th century, with increased
rainfall and lower temperatures, led to famine.These
troubles, compounded by pestilence (the Black Death of
1349 and subsequent epidemics), resulted in a sharp fall
in population and the contraction or desertion of
settlements on marginal soils. Direct cultivation by
landlords continued on some home farms, but in most
areas farms on estates became leased out – in whole or
in part – to tenants, a process often accompanied by the
breakdown of traditional customary tenancies. Other
developments which accelerated from the 14th century
included the amalgamation of farms into larger holdings,
the enclosure of former communally farmed strips, and a
steady growth in productivity sustained by greater
emphasis on pastoral farming, new techniques and
rotations of crops.”

Retrieved from HELM website 24/03/2014 historic-farmsteads-north-west-part2.pdf

I will post about sites around Rooley Moor and Whitworth relating to this subject soon!

Milnrow Carved Stone Fragments

Memorial Stone circa 800 to 1200 AD

Two stone fragments were discovered built into a farm near Milnrow, one appeared to be from the Viking Age (below), the other larger  fragment has part of an “Anglo-Saxon capitals” inscription (see above).

The finds were originally published in 2010 if from originally the area (they are of great significance, given how rare such finds are in the area.


CBA “Milnrow Stones” article by Vanessa Oakden

Portable Antiquities Scheme Entries

Viking Age Fragment 900 to 100AD approx.
Viking Age Fragment circa 900 to 1000 AD 

Oakden, V (2010) LVPL-01F601 A EARLY MEDIEVAL SCULPTURE Webpage available at: [Accessed: Oct 14, 2013 10:43:40 PM]

Improved Technology, Improved Survey Possibilities

From magnetometers (you probably have one in your smartphone)”) to thermal imaging the cost of survey technology is falling, The advent of affordable remote control helicopters means archaeologists can afford their own aerial survey platforms!

I will list the technologies of interest and explain their use and costs. I

  • Aerial Survey Platforms (drones with HD video are now affordable)
  • Aerial Photographs in the public domain such as Google Earth and Microsoft Bing
  • Infra red techniques
  • Thermal Imaging
  • Magnetometers (or gradiometers)
  • Laser survey technology
  • Computer technology
  • GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar)
  • Lidar (now being made available in the UK)

Under construction…



Background to the Discoveries

Three sites were partially surveyed in 2010, with the help of Groundwork volunteers trained by Al Oswald of English Heritage.

One site, Naden Head has already been mentioned in earlier posts, the two other sites, were 2010. A fourth site discovered in 2007 was the subject of an inconclusive geophysical survey in 2010, a possible barrow lies to the west of this, naturally defensive site.

The Hill Fort

Hill forts are extremely rare in Lancashire and this appears to be in a better state of preservation than the scheduled hill fort north of Bury, known as Castlesteads. Castlesteads had a single ditch, Portfield Camp near Whalley, Lancashire is perhaps closer in construction and has similar dimensions to the site near Rochdale.

I found the Medieval reference to the hill fort in November 2012, the site was discovered in 2010 using aerial photography and field work.

A Barrow?


How could anyone miss this?  this area has never been archaeologically surveyed!

I have blanked out the background to hide the exact location, it has been reported to English Heritage, but not visited by them yet.

To be continued….