Rochdale’s Rooley Moor is a fairly recent name, from the 18th Century, when a Mr Rowley (corrupted later to Rooley) settled on what was to become the Old Moorcock Inn. Rooley Moor was originally known as Shore Moor, an area that included minor names such as The Ding(e) and Bagden which dates back to medieval times.
Why go to Whalley Abbey?
The abbey owned so much land in Spotland it even claimed the manorial rights. Over 100 Spotland charters that define Abbey land boundaries are recorded in the Coucher Book of Whalley Abbey. So, for example if you wanted to travel north from Smallshaw to the Abbey you would go via the route of Rooley Moor Road. Why go to the Abbey? to take wool, the most valuable crop and Medieval England’s vital export. The Abbey was a major distribution centre for wool.
Rooley Moor Road connects The north of Spotland with the Church and the market in the centre of Rochdale. So if you were in Boarsgeave or Cowpe the line of Rooley Moor Road leads to the Church and market at the centre of your parish. If you look at Greenwood’s 1818 map of Rooley Moor (see References) you don’t have much to choose from! unless you want to make a detour via Whitworth.
To the south is an area known as Catshaw and the road that ran north/south through it was Catley Lane, the original name of Rooley Moor Road. Before the 18th Century the area was known as Shore Moor. Catley Lane is mentioned frequently in the 1626 Rochdale Manor survey, there are three mentions of Catley Lane in the page shown here. There is also a 1597 reference (18th Jan) in the Manor Court Rolls, the earliest historical reference found so far.
1418 Reference in Fiswick
Route to the local market
With so many medieval sites close to the line of what was Catley Lane it is hard to believe there was no medieval track to connect them to the nearby medieval borough of Rochdale. This medieval borough (burgage plots are mentioned in the Manor Court Rolls) of Rochdale, was a market (1251) town which was important enough to have a castle.
The local topography would make an obvious southern route to Rochdale on the west of the steep valley of Healey Dell.
Most interesting of all?
Since there are major sites (English Heritage helped survey them) within a few hundred metres of Rooley Moor Road, medieval and earlier, which I discovered in 2010.
There is plenty of evidence for prehistoric activity in the area.
Iron Age Defended Sites – Smallshaw and Lower Dunnishbooth
Two defended sites, one with a triple ditch and a medieval reference (which called it ancient 800 years ago!) are just to the east of Rooley Moor at Cutgate. There is plenty more archaeology to be surveyed there.
Bagden Hillocks/Old Moorcock
Look down from the ruins of the Moorcock rowards the west and you can see prehistoric fields and an enclosure.
Turn round and look east and you see a cairn a few meters away, at the north wall of what was the Moorcock. A second cairn, Bagden Hillocks, lies a little further to the east.
With such a large number of farmsteads and Abbey land along the line of Catley Lane, a drove way for sheep and cattle would be a natural medieval route to the nearby market (1251) town of Rochdale and north to Whalley Abbey. The 1418 reference to Catcloghgate (early name for Catley Lane) appears to confirm a medieval date. While prehistoric sites in the area would probably have used a track on or near to the present line of the road.
See Manor Court records (Chapter XV) and medieval references to places in the area in: The History of the Parish of Rochdale in the County of Lancaster / by Henry Fishwick 1889 Download it here
Greenwood’s 1818 Map includes Rooley Moor Road, download it here.
Fishwick’s History of the Parish of Rochdale, p91-2
There is no substitute for walking areas, even soggy moor land, if you want to find something.
Here are some of the sites I have found in areas that were supposed to have been surveyed by archaeologists. They also said there was “a hiatus in Medieval times”, did they read there own references? I have reproduced some early names from Fishwick’s History of the Parish of Rochdale, many are on Rooley Moor! The name Ding was written Dinge in medieval times. A survey of the area found no medieval records for the area! but mentioned a ‘hiatus’ in medieval times, how many charter are there for the area?
Apart from Dinge we have Bikeden (Bagden), Naden and Prickshaw, for example. There are many medieval charters that relate to the the Ding area, as well as mentions in the Manor Surveys of Rochdale in the 17th. century.
Enclosure and Early Fields at SD 855177
Enclosure on Rooley Moor
The yellow arrows mark the line of the earlier enclosure, which has been “overlayed” with the larger and later fields marked by the stone wall running diagonally to the left of the arrows and one wall running horizontally in the picture above. Grid reference SD 855177.
Pits SD 859183
This area of small “quarry pits” covers several acres and is easily visible on aerial photographs. Mysteriously they are invisible on maps and on an archaeological survey that was supposed to have walked the are. If they had walked the area they would have stumbled into the pits! This is the clearest indication that the survey failed to find even the most obvious and large archaeological features. They have not just appeared, they can be seen on 1940s black and white photographs and all subsequent aerial photographs.
These quarry pits are quite mysterious and had a field officer from the British Geological Survey puzzled.
Why dig so many small pits? They are too close together for trial pits and not an efficient way to quarry stone. They may have been dug by individuals, so far I have found no records of them. They are not even shown on any Ordnance Survey Maps, even though you can fall in to some of them.
These pits were missed by an archaeological survey that claimed to have surveyed the area.
Here is a detail of “spoil” from a quarry pit, the stone is known as “Haslingden Flags”.
See them from aerial photographs
They can even be seen from satellite pictures and cover a few acres, see the aerial view here.