Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Celtic Coastal Road: Part One

In previous articles at the Fylde and Wyre Antiquarian, we’ve discussed…or rather ‘suggested and provided evidence for’ (because, to be honest, hardly anybody actually ‘discusses’ these matters)…Celtic roads at Robins Lane, Bispham and Higher Moor Farm, Warbreck.
So now it’s time to track down and analyse another potential Celtic highway, this time running from Waterloo Road in the south to the Gynn in the north, following the high ground along the edge of the cliffs…more or less, but not mimicking the Roman coastal route as described in another previous article.
And if that doesn’t sound complicated enough, just to be doubly awkward, we’re going to start slap bang in the middle of this road, with the following quote from Thornber: “A lane usually called Double Dyke at this time ran across the high road from Bank Hey, now Green Walk, through the ground occupied by Mr. Topping’s house to the back of Dobson’s buildings.”

Just to bring Thornber’s description up to date a bit, Mr. Topping’s house, as far as we can determine from the 1866 Blackpool Directory, stood on Clifton Drive.
Bank Hey itself, not to be confused with the modern day Bank Hey Street, was actually the estate belonging to William Cocker who later built the Winter Gardens. In fact, Bank Hey House was actually incorporated into the building on Coronation Street beneath which Double Dyke ran, or to put it another way, the bit of the Winter Gardens shown in the photograph below.

Backing that claim up, the large-scale Ordnance Survey maps dating to before the Winter Gardens’ construction shows this, now long since vanished but once ancient, stretch of road running more or less north – south, from Adelaide Street to Carter Street.
The name ‘Double Dyke’ is the main clue to its antiquity here, suggesting that this was a hollow way measuring twice the width of a normal dyke system.
Right… now let’s head south, tracing ‘Double Dyke’ to Central Drive on old Ordnance Survey maps by following various field boundaries, double hedge lines (between which an ancient road obviously once ran) and other anomalies associated with antiquated and no-longer-used road systems. (If you’re feeling bored this weekend you could give this a try at home. Just find yourself a large scale O.S. map from the 19th century, stick your tongue out of the corner of your mouth for added concentration, and deploy your index finger in ‘search mode’.)
Eventually we hit Revoe and, in particular, the rear of the gasworks where, unsurprisingly perhaps, a stone hammer was discovered in 1881, confirming that we’re on the right route. Unfortunately we don’t have a photograph of the stone hammer because…well…true to form nobody knows where it is any more.
Nonetheless, there’s also a ‘ruin’ recorded at the junction of Kent Road and Princess Street on those same early Ordnance Survey maps and, over the years, there have been a number of suggestions put forward by local historians as to what it might have been. These range from an ancient farmhouse to a monastic site although it should be noted that, at the rear of Hambleton, a similar ‘ruin’ recorded by Ordnance Survey turned out to be the cobbled remains of another Iron Age road, so, in our opinion, it’s open for suggestions.
So far so good…but because we know how incredibly difficult it is to work out directions in your head, we’ve produced the map below detailing…well…more like simplifying…the route that we’ve speculated so far.

At which point it’s time for a seven-day break. (We read somewhere recently that after several paragraphs people stop reading blogs and their brains go into melt down…and we wouldn’t want this to happen to our reader. Besides, it means we can take the week off and concentrate on something other than this website for a change.)


John said...

People's minds only melt when a blog keeps on refering to 'something, formerly called something else, now running north south past another thing, once called something altogether different". Especially when the blogee reading the blog didn't grow up in said neighborhood, and has no clue what you're talking about.

Now, if you realy want to get our attentions, please go explore said ruins, and let us know what lies beneath the ground. And take photos while doing so.

Can't wait for next week's continuance, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


Said ruins are currently occupied by a bungalow...or something. Can't remember exactly what. Their only existence is nowadays is consigned to the old maps.

I have to be honest, huge lists of directions are annoying even for people who know the area. (They're only topped in the boredom stakes by genealogical lists which are also sometimes a necessity.) Unfortunately when mapping out ancient, hitherto unrecorded roads there's not a great deal of option...except, of course, the reader getting out there and following the route for themselves...which in your case would require an expensive plane ticket and a couple of spare weeks. But don't panic...there's only one more part of this article to go before we move onto something else.

John said...

No, no, no.... I LIKE posts like this one. It's interesting to see how places have evolved, and especially cool when place names hint at ancient secrets.

In fact, I want to see more like this. In more fact, I'd love to see you do stuff like poke around the basement and foundation of that place on Coronation Street, and do some metal detecting and excavations. Show us all it's claims to the ages!

As for the ruins under teh cottage, again, some metal detecting and basement excavations might prove useful. And you did mention another ruin, didn't you?

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


Just the one ruin for this posting...I think. (I can't remember mentioning two at any rate.) As for the Winter Gardens, it's an historic building in its own right...and a busy one. I don't think we'll be allowed to excavate down there, although it is supposed to be haunted and there's a great episode of Most Haunted where they're wandering around in the cellar there (or basement...whichever you prefer) and spooking each other senseless...which doesn't take much with that lot, I must admit. If I ever come across it on the web I'll post it here.

Ozfemme said...

Do they not have a celtic/roman street directory you could look it up in?

Also, you've got to be grateful to those blody untidy romans for dropping stuff left right and centre, don't you?

Carry on.

Ozfemme said...

I watched Most Haunted last night because..well, I have no life... it was the Bodmin Gaol one where Derek "channelled" the supposedly South African gaoler 'Kreed Kaifer'..which is suggested to be an acronym for "Derek Faker" made up by Ciaran O'Keeffe, who I think has the worst teeth on anyone in the UK.... and would someone please bludgeon Yvette Fielding because, well, just because...

Brian Hughes said...

Derek Accorah, fake? You'll be suggesting next that Skippy the Bush Kangaroo couldn't actually talk.

And watch where you're going with those British teeth jokes, Bella. There's enough poor quality, xenophobic gags about us Brits stuffed into poorly written American sitcoms and cartoons without cork-hat wearing, sheep-worrying, drunken, uncultured Ozzies taking up the mantle.

John said...


Americans don't make fun of the British anymore... that was like, twenty years ago. We have lots of other nationalities to be threatened by, now.

In fact, we apparently think highly of you Brits, because every company that wants us to buy overpriced fancy stuff uses a spokesperson with a British accent for that 'sophisticated and exotic' touch.

So there, JOHN :0)

PS Haven't you people ever heard of Orthodontists? I'm Brit decended, but thanks to many years and much money, you can't tell by my teeth. :0)

Brian Hughes said...


Try telling that to the writers of the Simpsons and Family Guy etc. whose anti-British (brown buckled teeth) jokes are tired, lazy and, let's face it, just racist really.

Still, what more can you expect from a nation of obese, ignorant and ironically challenged retards?

(It's a joke...just's what we brown toothed, sexually impotent Brits are famed for.)

John said...

I ahven't seen the Simpsons in a while now, although I thought they were above that kind of thing. As for Family Guy, there isn't a more unimaginative piece of crud out there, and I would rather have a root canal than watch 2 seconds fo that show. The show is so worthless, I'm not surprised they have to resort to low humor just to get anyone talking abou them.

As for Americans, yeah, many of them have their faults, but just like the Brits, there are a few decent ones. Frankly, you guys are borrowing too many of our bad habits to be insulting us. :0)

But let's get back to Celtic roads, shall we? What distinguishes a Celtic Road from another kind of road? Besides found artifacts?

And I agree with the other poster... it is funny that people dropped so much stuff along the side of the road. Then again, whenever I go for a walk, I'm always finding coins along the sidewalk. I guess holes in pockets are a universal thing.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Ozfemme said...

But Skippy couldn't talk. He just made that "tschk tschk" noise which we, the people, interpreted to mean that someone had carburettor trouble and needed urgent medical attention and that geez, the flies are bad this year....

Yes, yes, yes... but have you seen Ciaran O'Keeffe's teeth?

"that other poster".... *sniffs*

Sheep worrying? You're confusing us with New Zealanders I fear.... and most of them migrated from Scotland....

That is all.

John said...

Dear OzFemme,
Please accept my apologies for appearing too lazy to scroll up and see who had posted earlier, and refering to you as "that other poster". Usually I have a slight bit more decorum and respect for other posters, but at the moment I had two kids trying to pull me away from the computer so that they could play WebKinz.

And when I say "pull me away", please imagine something akin to being drawn and quartered, so as to elicit more sympathy towards my plight.

Now, as to Celtic Roads, isn't that a compilation of Irish ditties available for order by midnight tonight?

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Ozfemme said...

Dear John,

Having given birth to two children, I'd have to say that being hung drawn and quartered by them is similar... only from the outside. So consider sympathy elicited, albeit in a rather small dose and your apology accepted.

Celtic Roads - at that price, I'll take two.

Here I was thinking it was some sort of erectile dysfunction treatment.....I really don't have a clue...

Ozfemme said...

Dear Mr Hughes,

Please feel free to continue posting your blog on what appears to have become a discussion forum.

Cooooooooeee cobber.

Brian Hughes said...

John and Bella,

That's what these comments boxes are for. (At least, I think that's what they're for. Until I hear differently from the engineers who run Blogger, I'll continue to assume that.)

And yes, I know that Skippy just used to just make clicking noises as though he had peanut butter deliberately stuck between his teeth (which I strongly suspect he did) but Lisa Goddard seemed to understand him, so that's close enough to 'talking' for me. And, well, actually, I quite like Family Guy when it's being's just that cliched jokes about foreigners' appearances (whether true or not) are just lazy writing, especially when the same rascist remarks appear in almost every American film produced nowadays as well as sitcoms such as Frazier etc. (Which has also finished, I know...but there are others and, to be honest, it hard to tell them all apart.) Incidentally, did you know that John Mahoney (I think that's his name) who plays Frazier's dad, comes from Blackpool?

As for the items dropped by Celts and Romans on the roads and in their settlements, for some unknown reason Lancashire doesn't have half as many small finds as most of the rest of Blighty. I think the two shards of 2nd Century pottery we've uncovered so far at Bourne Hill are extremely rare, if not unique, for this district.

Anyhow...apologies for the interuption...feel free to continue. (Although we do have a forum as well, of course. Coffee, cheese and biscuits cost a quid and it's the only place left in Britain where you can still enjoy a cigarette without the threat of a police caution.)

Brian Hughes said...

Oh...and p.s.

"What distinguishes a Celtic Road from another kind of road?"

Er...Celtic roads were built by the Celts. All the other roads weren't.

Actually, there are quite a few significant differents. For example, Roman roads tend to be long and straight and wide, built in diminishing layers of cobbles with ditches on either side. Modern roads are covered in tarmac. Most Celtic roads are sunken, and narrow, and serpentine, and they tend to connect the Celtic settlements together. There are other ways of telling them apart, but I'm in dire need of my third morning brew right about now and have an urge to stop writing.

Ozfemme said...

You know, I didn't even stop to consider that old one about British people having bad teeth... I was just mesmerised by Ciaran's teeth... and not in a good way.
Let us never speak of this again.

If one were in a mood to ponder mysteries and connect to the earth whilst on the way t'market, I think a long and serpentine road would be the best way.

The Romans were always in too much of a hurry and forgot to stop and smell the roses. No wonder they dropped so much stuff.

I'm off to the forum now for cheese and crackers. No fags though. I gave up. Sort of.

Brian Hughes said...

"If one were in a mood to ponder mysteries and connect to the earth whilst on the way t'market, I think a long and serpentine road would be the best way."

Round these parts it was also the only way you could keep your feet dry, their serpentine nature being caused through navigation across the marshes.

Can't say as I've ever really studied Ciaran O'Teeth's maw. However, his seasonally adjusted haircuts always amuse me. (And that's coming from someone who cuts his own locks with a Swiss Army knife.) I was particularly impressed by the goatee he had one series. It made him look like a fat version of the Master.

Right...I'm off to the Forum as well...if you get desperate you can share some of my ciggy with me.

Ann O'Dyne said...

" ...Unfortunately we don’t have a photograph of the stone hammer because…well…true to form nobody knows where it is any more ..."

oh oh haHa haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Bwca said...

This brilliance is wasted at your guestbook so I'm sticking it in ya face

rock of ages
cleft for thee,
Let us dig up history.

Muddy boots
and grimy nails.
Bits of pottery in pails.

picks and spades,
We may all end up at Hades

Brian Hughes said...


I've decided that a combination of Carrolesque poetry and maniacal laughter too early in the morning, before the completion of my first mug of coffee, and/or the full digestion of the pills required to keep me alive, has left me confused and speechless.

Many would say this is a good thing and that, as a result, you deserve a medal...or at the least a Nobel Peace Award.

JahTeh said...

Labor elected in Australia and Hughes struck speechless! Is this a wonderful century or what?

I've just been watching the programme on the celts by Richard Rudgley and they was nobs on the continong, great bits of gold everywhere and trading with the Greeks then they migrated to Pommyland where they built roads in marshes. Where is all the gelt?

Brian Hughes said...


Presumably they spent it all on road tax...proving that some things never change.

Ann O'Dyne said...

when very young I saw a Felix The Cat cartoon where he dug a hole and came out the other side of the Earth.
I have been worried about the planet's inner core ever since.

We are all hurtling through outer space in the pitch dark clinging to a revolving ball of molten rock.

and there's no reason why it should always continue this way.

Brian Hughes said...


If you see a middle aged bloke with uncontrollable curly hair and a face like a bassett hound emerging from your garden, backside first, trowel in one hand and map of Lancashire in the other, muttering something along the lines of: "We should 'ave hit it be now..." start to panic.