Now, with other enquiries such as those concerning Singleton Thorpe or Kilgrimol or what have you, I usually just point the said inquirer in the direction of some previous article we’ve written. It saves a lot of wear and tear on the wrists because I don’t have to respond with a lengthy email. When it comes to Stanah Hill, however, try as I might, I can’t find a previous article about the subject anywhere on this board. There probably is one, stuck away amongst the mulch of by-gone postings, mouldering quietly in the electronic bowels of the Internet, but if there is, I’ve lost track of it.
This is the top of Stanah Hill, looking east towards the River Wyre:
If you look closely you should be able to make out the aforementioned grass-covered road running parallel to the fence and disappearing into the mediaeval hedge.
Back in Victorian Times this road (now a public footpath) led from Underbank Road, over the hilltop and down to Cockle Hall ferry, which, if you were that way inclined, would then transport you across the river to Wardleys.
But the road itself is, as you’ve probably gathered, considerably more ancient than that.
Here’s the other end of it at Nateby, being dug by the Pilling Historic Society back in 1995.
Our old (now sadly departed) friend Neil Thompson traced the road, way back when, using a probe, following it all the way from behind the school in Nateby, via Hambleton, down to the pub at Wardleys, where originally it crossed the river to Stanah by a ford (long before the ferry set up its little trade) and continued over the top of Stanah Hill.
At the Nateby end, in 2003, two denarii, a silver ‘Tiberius’ and a bronze ‘Claudius’, were discovered lying on the split-pebbled surface, confirming that the track was around during the Roman occupation.
Heading northwest from Stanah Hill we can follow our ancient road in the direction of Bourne Hill (and our equally ancient Iron Age Romano/British settlement there).
Before we do that, however, let’s have a map.
Yes, I know that we’ve missed out the bit where the road meets the riverbank. That’s because we’ve borrowed the map from our ‘History of the Wyre (from Harold the Elk to Cardinal Allen)’ and adapted it slightly for use in this article. In fact, if you’d bought a copy of the aforementioned book already, you’d have read about this road before and wouldn’t be enquiring about it now…so there you go.
Anyhow, the agger is clearly visible curving northwest alongside what was the old Saxon village green at Stanah, before it disappears under Stanah Road and the modern housing estate on the other side, where this rather suspicious looking old gatepost marks its route.
We’re not actually saying that this stone is ancient. It might well be. It might well not be. It’s just a bit odd, that’s all.
From this point onwards our ancient road becomes a bit trickier to follow, disappearing as it does beneath the sprawl of modern day Thornton. However, we’re not ones to give up easily, and using an eclectic blend of supposition, old boundary/road markers, decrepit maps and a great deal of guesswork, we’ve managed to produce the following map:
There goes our ancient highway, look, possibly detouring towards Castle Hill at some point, veering sharply between Trunnah and Holmes through Townend Farm, and up past…what? Townend Farm -- on West Drive! What do you mean, why do we reckon it ran that way? Here’s what Ken Emery, Wyre Archaeology secretary and historian extraordinaire, told us. Back in the 1990s Ken interviewed Mrs Marjorie Lang: ‘…a charming nonagenarian whose family used to live at Townend Farm. She recalled, as a young woman, a slight depression roughly ten feet wide running northwards in a straight line from the farm towards the western flank of Bourne Hall hill.”
And back in 1935 (sticking with Townend Farm for the moment, of course) a cobbled track was actually unearthed by the farmer, presumably in the same place as the depression.
Right…can we continue?
Next up then we have the Stanifurlong fields (at least, that’s what they’re called on the old tithe maps), Stanifurlong being in the ancient tongue a furlong full of stones (stanis…see?), which, all matters considered, suggests that our cobbled track continued along this route.
Finally, we reach Bourne Hill, where in 2005 we found this:
All right, it might not look like much, but that’s a fire-split cobbled track, that is, looping around (and presumably into at some point) our Romano/British Iron Age settlement.
Returning to Stanah Hill, taking into consideration the exceptional view from the summit and the fact that the road runs right across it, you’d expect to find an Iron Age settlement, Romano custom’s house or, at the very least, some sort of ancient watchtower perched on it somewhere.
To date, however, nobody’s found anything.
Then again, nobody’s ever dug it.
Who knows what might yet come to light? Not me, that’s for certain, and because this article’s gone for far too long, I’m going to bring it to an end.