Brock Mill

Several years ago, Wyre Archaeology ran a forum and a blog.  On more than one occasion an unusual stone found in the River Brock promoted discussion.


From this image it is difficult to make out any features apart from, what appears to be, a tenon on the right-hand side.  Other posters came up with more images.

This view also shows the tenon on the left and a hole which appears to go through the stone.

At the time there was much discussion regarding the use for such a stone.  These ranged from a keeill cross shaft to part of a Roman milestone - both tempting but probably wrong.  On a recent dig uncovering an old watermill at Hollowforth (near Woodplumpton) the following stone was uncovered.

From this image it is difficult to see the tenon on the right-hand side but, when looking from the other side, the tenon becomes obvious.

It is suspected that this was part of the "hurst frame" or structure that held the main part of the grinding stones together and at least two of these shaped stones were found on the site.  The tenon would have provided a fixed point, stopping the whole structure moving during the milling process.

So why is this more likely than the previous suggestions?  The fact that the stone was found in the river and that the dismantled "lower" Brock mill lies only a couple hundred metres upstream from the find.  The simplest solution is often then more likely solution.


Cup & Ring stones

On the 6th April 2019, several members of the group met at Nicky Nook to investigate a possible cup and ring stone.  On a beautiful day, with magnificent views of the Fylde, the stone and the surrounding area was investigated.  It was found at the junction of a couple of ancient walls - which may, possibly, be investigated at a later date.  More information will be reported at the next meeting.


The find was reported to Lancashire Historic Environment Record only to find that it had already been reported & recorded.


Following a request, more details and photographs have been added to our Kirkham dig from several years ago.  This is now more important with the news that a housing development at Brook Farm, Dowbridge, has been given planning permission. 

The recent (2018) Dowbridge dig has uncovered a number of finds have been uncovered including a bronze age cup stone and the base of a Roman oven.  It is understood that more investigations will take place in the summer of 2019.

More information to follow.

Bilsborrow - John Cross School

This site was drawn to our attention by David Ratcliff (http://www.romanroads.org/gazetteer/roman1.htm) who had been using LIDAR images to trace possible Roman roads in Lancashire.  A possible housing development had been mooted on Bilsborrow Lane, Bilsborrow and in the documentation there appeared a proviso regarding a possible Roman road which might go across the site.  Although we didn't have access to that site a continuation of the LIDAR appeared to trace a path over the corner of a playing field belonging to Bilsborrow, John Cross Primary School.  Permission was enthusiastically granted and a survey (performed by Wigan Archaeology Group) of the field was taken.  Although the resistivity plots were inconclusive it was decided that a dig was the only way to prove the existence of the road - one way or another.

The above image shows the projected line of the Roman Road (in red) together with the resistivity survey.

On Sunday, 23rd September, 2018 a 10m x 2m trench was opened.  At the same time the field was swept by metal detector.

Over the next two days the trenches were taken down to natural - unfortunately with no sign of the Roman Road.

On a more positive note, the pupils visited the site and were encouraged to get involved.  By doing this we might have discovered future archaeologists.

Many thanks to the staff and pupils of the school, in particular Liam Reynolds, the headteacher.

And in the End

The Hollowforth site has finally been closed down.  It has been a frustrating but rewarding site and John Grimbaldeston couldn't have been a more welcoming and encouraging host.  Several big digs have been completed along with numerous odd days.  The size of the spoil heap was evidence of the amount of work put into the site and the requirement to hire a digger to reinstate the site gives testimony to this.



So, what have we learnt from the site?  First a great deal about the structure and running of mills.  In particular the complexity of a mill that may have been on the same site for several hundred years; a veritable palimpsest of building styles and ideas.  When we started there was no understanding of mills and their structure; the type of wheels, undershot (which the records showed it to be in this case), overshot or breastshot wheels, the different types of mill stone (with the very hard French burr being one of our discoveries) together with the techniques required for drying the corn and the different types of kiln tiles particularly fascinating.  After all of these positive comments, why was it frustrating?  The main answer being that we couldn't access the portion of the mill nearest the wheel and thus the main workings.  Perhaps, sometime in the future this may become available.

One a more positive note the webmaster found the research into the history of the mill fascinating and this has to a number of discoveries:-

  • the estate maps held at Cheshire Archives for the Woodplumpton (and other) areas from the 1770's onwards of which copies are now to be found in Lancashire Archives.  This has becomes an invaluable resource for local historians.
  • the one mention of a mob emerging from the 1768 riots in Preston which a Hollowforth miller managed to restrain from further destruction.  This has led onto further research on the riots and there will be more on this in a later article.
  • the continuing influence of the manorial system on the area.  Even when the system was breaking down in most areas, John Warren still influenced the district.

Now we move onto new sites.  If any viewers of this site have any interesting possible sites can they please contact the group secretary on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..