Lidar Reveals Rectangular Feature on the Western Edge of Rooley Moor

Here is an example of Lidar revealing archaeological sites as in this rectangular (enclosure?) on the western edge of Rooley Moor.

If you explore around this area you can see many ditches and other features I have mentioned earlier: they are clearly highlighted by the Lidar image.


Man Road Ditch

Looking south towards Man Road Ditch and Knowl Hill, Photo by David Mercer.

Even the name is mystery, “Man Road Ditch”. The ditch is of unknown date and unknown purpose and runs from the foot of Knowl Hill in a NNW direction.

The earliest reference found so far, is in the first series 6″ OS map (1851) of the area.

See the aerial view of the ditch hereNote select “satellite” to see an aerial photograph of the ditch.

Here is a Lidar view


Man Road Ditch

The feature that crosses it at the bottom of the image is the turbine access road!



Under construction…

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…!

Boundaries in the Landscape – Banks, Ditches and Walls

The need to mark boundaries between landholdings has left an extensive variety of features in the SE Lancashire landscape: from moorland enclosures, boundary ditches to walls and banks.

The longest boundary and one of the earliest in SE Lancashire is the Nico ditch, also called Mickle Ditch. Read more about it here.

When I met an inspector from the former Ancient Monuments, based in London, he was surprised that parts of survived, a section was scheduled in the 1990s. You can see the ditch running the a golf course in Audenshaw.


Ditches were often refered to in Parish boundaries, for example “The White Ditch” near Knowl hill, near Rochdale , was mentioned in medieval records and manor surveys, such as the 1610 “Inquisition” of Rochdale parish summarised here.

Medieval Dyke in Didsbury, Manchester

In the 13th. Century a dyke was judged to have prevented access to common land, The Assize court rolls state the length of the dyke (40 perches, about 800 feet) and the date of its construction.

See the transcription at British History Online.

Assize Roll 1238. Divers Counties.

6 Edward I.
Date accessed: 13 May 2012

Dykes were evidently quite a common feature in the area around Manchester, the Assize Rolls also mentions a dyke in Urmston and one in Denton (near the Nico Ditch).

Tandle Hill

Tandle Hill was in Thornham township, Middleton parish.

Tandle Hill Park
Bank in Tandle Hill Park

Tandle Hill Park was a deer park and this bank may be associated with the deer park.

Alkrington Park

Alkrington was orinally in Prestwich Parish, though close to Middleton. This park  also has banks associated with a deer park.

Deer Park, bank

Sometimes streams and rivers were used as boundaries and ditches and banks were used to extend or subdivide natural boundaries.

The name Mersey, means boundary river according to Ekwall. While the Nico Ditch, which runs through Audenshaw near Manchester is a man-made boundary thought to date from the early medieval period.

Types of Boundary

Township Boundaries

Banks and ditches were used to define the border between parish townships, like the one shown below between the townships of  Great and Little Heaton, in Prestwich parish west of Bowlee.

Township Boundary, Great and Little Heaton
Township Boundary – Great and Little Heaton


Here is an old grass covered wall between Naden Head and Naden Dean, it even has a tree growing on it.

Old wall between Naden Head and Naden Dean


There were several preaching crosses in towns and by trackways, here is an amazing example.

The Ultimate “Portable” Antiquity

Doffcocker Cross

Until I reported its existence in 2001 this cross, at Doffcocker near Bolton, was not on the Sites and Monuments Record. The cross is currently in the grounds of the Catholic Church in Doffcocker, having been moved from its previous location, where it was used as a bridge over a stream. So this really is one of the largest antiquities to have been moved around in the area and it shows how incomplete the records have been.

Mystery Ditch – Man Road Ditch

You can see it clearly even from aerial photographs, it’s big, but what was it for? How old is it? Why has it not been recorded or protected? Man Road Ditch – even the name is a mystery.

Where is it?

It runs NNW from Knowl Hill, it was not for drainage, because of the profile of the ditch (more details will be added about this).

Here is a Lidar view

Man Road Ditch – Lidar Image

The wind farm access road can be seen crossing the ditch at the the bottom of the illustration.

Under Construction…

(C) 2010, 2011  S. Mendelsohn