Middop Hill Fort Earthworks

GP and I went to see the site of what may be a bronze or iron age hillfort at Middop, a mile or so from the chapel. I was a little sceptical before I saw it, but sure enough, there is a large field not far from Middop Hall around which there is a ditch on all four sides and a steep slope to the east. They ditches cannot be for drainage purposes and the amount of work to create so lengthy an earthwork would offer little economic benefit to farmers. John Clayton, the local historian and author of Burnley and Pendle Archaeology (Barrowford Press, 2014) is convinced it is a hill fort; The Megalithic Portal website is not, although I think it is too easily distracted by the more recent quarry at the hill’s side.

Having seen it, I agree with Clayton. It is a wonder to think that two thousand years ago, local folk lived and worked here, feeling safe and secure. They may have heard rumours that a bunch of Italians had landed and were coming north, but they trusted in their ditches and ramparts.

Psalm 46 invites us to ‘Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.’ Indeed, Isaiah, in the second chapter of his prophecy, sees a day when ‘they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks’. This place of war and warriors is now a quiet farmer’s field.