A discovery – an old book!

Old south-east Lancashire; a new archæological, historical, and genealogical monthly magazine ..

by Mathews, John F
Uploaded by the Internet Archive.

Read more


Lidar for your archaeological discoveries!

Lidar used to be exotic and expensive, but no longer! Cutting edge, archaeological  aerial survey techniques are now free for us to use.

Here is an example

Smallshaw, note the three ditches of the prehistoric enclosure and the image “shows” the ground  under the tree cover!

Here is a standard aerial view.


Lidar image bank

Get your Lidar images here

The link example directs to OS grid reference SD 81, which covers most of west Rochdale.

The Ordnance Survey National Grid Reference System

See more about the OS grid reference system  here.

Selecting an OS grid square

Select a grid reference by entering the OS grid or move the map with your mouse or by touch.


Enter SD81 to select the grid that covers west Rochdale.

Download and process your Lidar images

  1. Select the grid you are interested in (SD81 in our example).
  2. Create a directory on your pc, or other device for the group on files you download, example SD81
  3. Select a group of files to download  from the bottom of the display
    (the different file types and what they mean are explained here)
  4. Select DSM (in this example) at 1m resolution for SD81.
  5. The files are a zip archive of 180.3MB!
  6. Select the green download icon to download the zip archive.
  7. Download the zip files to your directory (SD81 for example)
  8. Unzip the files with a compatible program (I used the free Pea zip, there are many others)
  9. You directory, with the unzipped files should look like these names, they are ASC file format.ascfiles
  10. These ASC files have to be converted into images you can view, use a GIS system if you have access to one (lucky you!), if not…go to step 11.
  11. To decode ASC files without a GIS system download the Relief Visualization Toolbox (RVT) for your operating system (currently supports Windows and Linux 64 ) from the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts.
  12. Download the RVT (for example rvt_1.1_win64 for Windows 7) and then unzip the files to a directory.
  13. Install the software, you should then see this
  14. Select click to continue and then you will see
  15. Select addfiles.jpg add the ASC files in your directory (SD81 in our example).
  16. Your directory should look like this:
  17. Load all the files and use the default settings for now and then select “Start”.
  18. This will take time depending on the speed of your computer.
  19. When the process is complete your directory should now have graphic files (TIFF format) created alongside the .ASC files.
  20. View these files with any program that can read and display the TIFF images, I used a free program called IrfanView.
  21. Here is a selection from one of the images, know what is in the centre? send me a message if you do please! -:) it’s old and it is north of Bury!
    mystery feature

Want to install your own GIS system?

LandSerf is a free GIS system which runs on any platform that supports the Java Runtime Environment (Windows, MacOSX, Unix, Linux etc.)

Too much work?

Try this site, just zoom in to explore your region (some areas do not have Lidar coverage). Note you do not have the choice of surface or terrain Lidar images.

Thanks to…

Special thanks to Marcus Jecock of Historic England for telling me about the Lidar source files and the software to decode the ASC files.

The software to decode the Lidar source files is from Slovenia’s Institute of Anthropological and Spatial Studies and is funded by the EU, see more details here.

James Moran-Zietek for telling me about LandSerf.

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…!

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?





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 discovered.in 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….

Salford Hundred Heritage Society Press Release 18th December 2012


Surprising Archaeological Discoveries North of Manchester

During 2009/2010 major archaeological sites were discovered, including a fortified site and burial sites, as old as four thousand years old. This information is made public today. The two thousand year old fortified site (hill fort), with triple ditches (about 75 Metres in length), was described as “ancient” in a Latin manuscript from 800 years ago.

Hill Fort discovered in 2010
Hill Fort discovered in 2010

A nearby site has a bank (clearly visible) cutting off a peninsula of land. There are also extensive early cultivation sites and field boundaries as well as many ruined farmsteads. One expanse of moorland is punctured by dozens of small pits, of unknown origin, some big enough to fall into, but never recorded on any maps of the area. Many more sites remain undiscovered, even though they are above ground.

Whitworth, to the north of Rochdale, has around one hundred medieval charters referring to smallholders land transfers in the area, which firmly secures it’s place as one of the best documented medieval villages in the country. However a 2007 archaeological survey just west of Whitworth found no medieval evidence for the area, and ignored the ruins of the nearby medieval manor house.

It is imperative that this information is made public whilst there is still time to save this rich historical landscape.


 Salford Hundred Heritage Society


Lord Rochdale’s Magnificent Panelled Room

Magnificent early wooden panelling from Rochdale was transported to Arundel House, London. Read an article about it on the British History Online site here.

‘Arundel House, Old Hall and the Lawns’, Survey of London: volume 17: The parish of St Pancras part 1: The village of Highgate (1936), pp. 46-53. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=65011&strquery=Rochdale Date accessed: 11 April 2010.