The project area is located in northeast Lancashire and includes the Forest
of Bowland and the Lune Valley. The Forest of Bowland covers over 800 square
kilometres of what has been described as ‘one of the best preserved (and least
accessible) moorland landscapes in England’. It is an area already supported
by EU funds, but whose cultural landscape is under-appreciated both publicly
and amongst archaeologists. It is an area under threat of change that requires
better-informed and more effective approaches to management.
The central upland core of the Forest of Bowland is formed from alternating
bands of shale and sandstone of the Millstone Grit series. The harder gritstones
form the fell tops while the softer bands of shale have been eroded to form
low scarps and incised valleys or cloughs, which typically sustain pockets of
ancient woodland. The extensive upland fells comprise the largest expanse of
blanket bog and heather moor in Lancashire, which is managed as sheep pasture
and for grouse shooting. In contrast, the Lune valley comprises a broad, flat
river floodplain divided into regular fields of verdant pasture. The Bowland-Lune
landscape provides a complementary survey area, as resources from both moorland
and valley were required to sustain communities.
Evidence of human activity in the landscape is diverse and monuments include
prehistoric settlement enclosures, Roman roads, and in the Lune Valley motte
and bailey castles. There are also numerous examples of small-scale industries
dotted throughout the landscape e.g. quarrying, limekilns and coal pits. However,
compared with other parts of the county the archaeological resource of the survey
area is little understood.
Since 1994, English Heritage (the national agency for protecting and promoting
the historic environment) has been carrying out a programme of historic landscape
characterisation (HLC) throughout England, in partnership with individual county
councils. HLC is a GIS map-based technique designed to produce a generalised
understanding of the historic and archaeological dimension of the present-day
landscape. It serves a variety of uses, such as education, research, land-management
and CAP-linked agricultural environmental incentive schemes, spatial planning
and environmental impact assessment.
An HLC project for Lancashire was completed by Lancashire County Council in
2000, and the central theme of the English EPCL project is to test and extend
the methodology of this. The first step will be to build upon the existing datasets
through the addition of new information layers, which will allow the creation
of character sub-types as well as allowing detailed analysis and interrogation
of the HLC.
The project will address the following broad themes that have relevance at
a local, national and international level:
- the relationship between broad historic landscape character and HLC and
individual sites and monuments
- the character of historic dispersed settlement, and the relationship between
settlement pattern, historic land use, natural resources and historic landscape
- the assessment of time-depth in the landscape
- the scope of HLC for predictive modelling of archaeological site distribution,
location and survival
- using HLC/SMR to define visibility, sensitivity and perception in today’s
- using HLC/SMR to define rarity and vulnerability of historic assets
An important aspect of the project will be the inclusion and consultation of
local communities. Comprehending the general public’s awareness of their surroundings,
perceptions, emotional responses and even the mythological associations of an
area, is essential if the cultural landscape is to be fully appreciated and
understood. Forums will include public meetings, parish councils, schools and
local interest groups.
Building upon the public consultation and data gathering stages an output of
the project will be the promotion of the survey area. This will include both
physical and intellectual access to the Forest of Bowland and the Lune Valley,
in the form of two new footpaths and appropriate interpretation, and the creation
of a web site that amongst other things will allow the viewer to experience
a virtual fly-through of the study area. This will be particularly useful for
areas where physical access is restricted.
A significant development of HLC, will be its application as a management tool.
By identifying what is characteristic or important in an area, a framework for
sympathetic management of local distinctiveness and historical diversity can
The project aims to:
- produce guidance for sustainable management and conservation, for use by
local government, land managers and the general public
- establish management priorities to be integrated with other programmes of
- enable the targeting of funds to appropriate projects.