The prehistoric periods in the Chorley Area have been identified mainly from the finds of flint tools and flakes from the local moorlands to the east of the town. These moorland areas are some 500 to 1,400 feet above sea level.
The moorland areas themselves can be broken down into four. To the north is 'Withnell Moor'. South of 'Withnell' is 'Anglezarke Moor', then 'Rivington Moor'. Finally, but just out of the Chorley area, is 'Horwich Moor', which adjoins 'Smithells' Moor' to the north of Bolton.
Evidence of prehistoric occupation of the local moors was made during the early 1950's, when, following a systematic search of the moorlands several flint tools were found. Further work revealed chipping sites where flint pebbles were worked to produce the tools and flakes.
The period generally associated with these finds was 'Bronze Age', but their is a possibility that some of these flints could be from the earlier Mesolithic Period. Also, some of the finely worked tools, in the form of arrowheads, also suggest that some Neolithic Period occupation took place hereabouts.
There are four/five known prehistoric burial sites on the local moors, they are all associated with the Bronze Age Period, all these are:
1)'Round Loaf' on Anglezarke Moor. This is a large barrow which has not been excavated.
2) 'Pike Stones' also on Anglezarke Moor. This is believed to have been a stone and turf covered mound originally, which has been levelled. No records exist for this. It has been suggested that the mound was levelled to obtain stone to built walls during the 19th century, but this is unconfirmed.
As to the contents of this burial mound, nothing is known. At this time, a collapsed stone cist is visible only, this would have been at the centre of the mound originally.
3) 'Noon Hill' On Horwich Moor. This ring burial was long suspected as a burial site, despite its associations with the local non-conformist movement. The site was excavated during the late 1950's by the Bolton Archaeological Society. The finds can be seen in Bolton Museum.
4) 'Winter Hill Barrow' Also on Horwich Moor. This large diameter low mound was found and subsequently excavated by the Chorley Society under the direction of Dr Bu Lock of Manchester University in the early 1960's. No human remains were found during the excavation, but the mound was surrounded by a stone kerb. Only one piece of flint and a sharpened wooden stake were found during the excavation
Note: During the 1980's, a flint axe-head was found on the site of the mound which must have been missed during the excavation. The axe-head is in private ownership.
5) 'Anglezarke Moor Cairn' This was found by the Chorley society in the 1970's, some 200 yards to the north north west of the 'Pike Stones' cist. On confirmation of its being man made, the society were in the process of obtaining permission to excavate the site when it was excavated by another 'party'.
Whoever did this work has never been in touch with us as to why they did the work and excluded us from it. Nor do we know what was found in the cairn!
Apart from prehistoric burials on the local moors, another site was discovered in 1975, close to Astley Hall Farm in Chorley. This was the first lowland Bronze Age site found in Lancashire, and as such attracted a lot of attention. Some six human cremations were found at this site together with two Collared Urns. The whole site was surrounded by a ditch. This work was carried out the by Chorley society and the West Lancashire Archaeological Society directed by Mr J. Hallam.
In addition to moorland sites, flint tools have been found to the south west of Chorley, in Mawdesley, and to the west in Eccleston. Another site in the Charnock Richard area is being 'monitored' for flint tools.
The Roman Period
A low profile research scheme has been ongoing by one or two of the
Chorley society members since its formation in the 1950's.
This research points to the possibility of secondary roman roads existing in the area, which lies between the two known roads to the north from Manchester MANUCIUM), to Ribchester via Bury, and to Preston via Wigan. The research is based on the finds made, and from early literary sources and newspaper reports, plus much fieldwork.
Roman coin finds in the area comprise the following:-
From Standish, two hoards, with the latest date of 240 A.D.
From Heapey, two hoards, one of which included silver brooches.
From Whittle-le-Woods, one hoard of 1,000 coins.
From Brindle, a small hoard.
From Chorley itself a small hoard was found in circa 1820. Additional known isolated Roman coins have also been found off Southport Road
Chorley. Between Birkacre and Duxbury in a streambed.
To the north side of Harpers Lane (Cabbage Hall Fields).
In Leyland 5 miles north west of Chorley, two hoards have been found.
In addition to the Roman coin finds discussed previously, at least two other finds of the period have been made.
The first, was allegedly found during excavations for a water lodge at the rear of Fosterfield Mill on Eaves Lane, Chorley. This find is of a small
amphora like vessel with two handles some twelve inches or so in height and about eight inches diameter. Its authenticity has, in the past, been somewhat 'conservative', due to its lack of provenance!
The same applies to another find. This was made by the writer. The find was made in the bed of a stream called 'Clancutt Brook', on the west side of the main Chorley to Coppull Road. Here to, due to the find location, authorities are reluctant to accept the find, due to it not being found in a stratigraphical situation (in situ), that is!
However, the writer is convinced as to its period, plus, due to its 'D' shape, as being of the Roman Period.
Another pointer to this being contemporary to this location, is that the find was made a short distance downstream from the possible alignment of the Roman Road between Wigan and Walton le Dale, which passed through Coppull, two miles to the west of Chorley.
The route of the latter road, from Wigan to Walton-le-Dale that is, has been proven north of Wigan at Standish, and at Coppull, where the Chorley Society has carried out two excavations across this road. So far, this is the furthest point north of Wigan that the road has been proven. The search northwards continues, although much of the possible route had been built over.
Place-name evidence is another aspect which is being considered during this search, together with the possibility that Lead Mines on Anglezarke Moor may have been worked initially in the Roman Period. Plus there was the alleged find on Rivington Moor of roman pottery during Lord Leverhulmes period at Rivington, which allegedly was deposited in Liverpool Museum, then lost due to bombing raids.
This then is one of the ongoing and low profile searches that a few of the society members are interested in. If anyone has further suggestions or information relating to this subject, we would be pleased to hear opinions etc, or any information relating to finds dating from the Roman Period in the Chorley Area, even of individual coins.
Jack Smith, Society Secretary.