The ancient rock-cut tombs by the Lancashire coast

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m especially interested in particularly old and unusual graves, and the subject of today’s post definitely falls into that category.  On the windswept Lancashire coast, six graves carved into solid rock have survived for over 1,000 years, remarkable survivors at an ancient site where it is thought that pilgrims came to venerate St Patrick in the Anglo-Saxon period. These are the rock-cut tombs of Heysham, some of the finest relics of early Christianity to be found in the north west of England.

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The lonesome grave of a travelling labourer

As a native of Lancashire, I always return to my hometown of Preston to visit my family at Christmas, and one bright Sunday morning I visited the nearby village of Ribchester, probably best known as an old Roman fort. I often visited this place as a child, as there was (and still is) an excellent children’s playground there. We would also inevitably visit the ruins of the Roman bath house, which were not fenced off and to a small child presented an exciting labyrinth of tumbled stones and low walls to clamber over. In Roman times, Ribchester was called Bremetenacum Veteranorum – a possible translation of this is “the hilltop settlement of the veterans.” Some ruins of the fort, including the bath house and granaries, can still be seen today, and many buildings in the village are built with reused Roman stones and columns.

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Ruins of Ribchester’s Roman granaries

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Buried under a boulder: the grave of a Lancashire “witch”

In a pretty churchyard in Woodplumpton, a village not far from Preston in Lancashire, is a mysterious old grave with many dark tales attached to it.  A large boulder – terribly out of place among smart Victorian and Edwardian headstones – is said to cover the grave of a witch.

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The historian and the baron: tales from two churches in a Lancashire village

I visited the Lune Valley again recently, that picturesque corner of Lancashire that I’ve found to be rich in history and fascinating old churches.  This visit was no different – driving into the village of Hornby, a striking octagonal church tower caught my attention.  Stopping to explore this church and the church situated opposite uncovered the stories of two men with strong links to Hornby who both made their mark on history.

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Exploring the ancient churches and fortifications of the Lune Valley

Last summer, I visited a part of my native Lancashire that I’d never been to before – the Lune Valley.  It’s a beautiful part of the world which probably gets overlooked due to its proximity to the famous, dramatic landscapes of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.  The valley is probably most famous for Ruskin’s View, the stunning vista – immortalised by John Constable – that can be observed from Kirkby Lonsdale (just across the county border in Cumbria).  But the Lune Valley also has a fascinating, half-forgotten history, and is home to some wonderful old churches.

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Ruskin’s view

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