The latest in our A-Z series once again comes from Katherine Range, with our thanks. 

© Copyright Trevor Lund and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons. http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/867362

© Copyright Trevor Lund and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons.

Bleasdale Circle, located near the small village of Bleasdale in North Lancashire, is an early Bronze Age (2200-1700 B.C.) timber henge. It is, no doubt intentionally, located in the center of Edmarsh, a peat moss area which is situated between two headstreams of the River Brock. These streams in turn are situated at the feet of Fair Snape Fell to the northwest and Bleasdale Fell to the southwest. There is evidence of an early tribal community that lived and died here on the fells of Bleasdale as indicated by the recent discovery of other prehistoric sites nearby. And this is too precise a location not to indicate purposeful placement by the peoples that built the henge. Bleasdale is a name which is derived from the Old Norse for ‘blesa’ which means blaze or light spot, according to W.R.Mitchell in his book “Bowland and Pendle Hill”
.

© Ordnance Survey Get-a-Map service.

© Ordnance Survey Get-a-Map service.

Discovered in 1898 and extensively excavated in the 1930s, the henge site covers an area of about 50m by 40m enclosed by a penannular ditch which was lined with birch poles laid flat in the bottom. Inside is a smaller, inner circle about 17m by 20m. This was made up of 11 timber posts, the locations of which are now denoted by squat concrete posts. A causeway to the east was marked by further timbered posts and led to the edge of the larger, ditched enclosure. In the center of the henge is a small burial mound about 3 feet high at its center. Inside a small, stone-lined cist were found two highly decorated pottery urns of the Pennine type which would have held the ashes of the dead. One of the urns also had a smaller pottery cup inside of it. According to John and Philip Dixon in “Journeys Through Brigantia”, these urns could be among the oldest of this type found in Britain. The post circle and barrow seem to be of similar age, while the larger enclosure could be of a later date.

Plan of Bleasdale Circle (after Syd Wilson, 1900)

Plan of Bleasdale Circle (after Syd Wilson, 1900)

Looking east from the internal ring, we can see an alignment with a notch on the horizon. Folklore holds that this is where the mid-winter sun rises though no proof apparently exists at this current time. Within the larger enclosure, between the two circles, there is evidence of 3 or 4 small dwellings. At some stage though, these were destroyed by fire and have left virtually nothing except burnt patches in the soil. These would have been earthen structures likely of earth and dung. In my mind, this gives a lot of credence to the theory that ancestors’ dwellings were converted into ritual structures and revered by their descendants. It’s an intriguing thought that the ancestors would “live” among their clan through successive generations.

© Copyright Raymond Knapman and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence

© Copyright Raymond Knapman and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence

 

Bleasdale Map