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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