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Harrington's Dyke

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the civil parish of Roeburndale.
In the historic county of Lancashire.
Modern Authority of Lancashire.
1974 county of Lancashire.
Medieval County of Lancashire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SD622554
Latitude 53.99431° Longitude -2.57739°

Harrington's Dyke has been described as a Linear Defence or Dyke but is rejected as such.

There are uncertain remains.


The watershed was used as the boundary of Bowland Forest centuries ago when the high ridges were named - "from Brennand Dale (SD 65 NW) it ran to the farms of Tarnbrook (SD 65 NW) to Ughtersik (?) as Harrington ditch leads, then west to the end of Threap Howe (SD 6254) and the stone in the Trough that divides Yorkshire and Lancashire" (SD 62265304). (Lofthouse)
Harrington Dike must be some 500 if not 600 years old. Harrington Dyke is an old boundary ditch running between the domains of Hornby and Bolland. As its name implies, it was marked out by the Harringtons, who were lords of Hornby towards the end of the Middle Ages. Whitaker's History of Whalley stated that traces of this dike could be seen on the tops of the fells between the Trough and Cross of Greet, that is where the old boundary would run part of the way, and where the present boundary between Lancashire and Yorkshire still marks some of the same division.
Starting with the statement by Whitaker that some traces of the Harrington Dike could still be found, the present writers set off to discover it for themselves. An approach was made more than once from the Trough road and several miles of the wild moorland searched for any trace of a ditch or boundary embankment. Shepherds and farmers were asked if they had heard of Harrington Dike. Invariably the answer was that nobody had heard about Harrington Dike.
Then the next question was if any ditch or embankment existed on the tops of the fells. An old shepherd living at Sikes was the only person who considered that there might have been an old ditch above where Whitendale and Croasdale met, close to the old road from Croasdale. Twice this place was approached on foot from Croasdale, but nothing was found. Once an attempt was made from out of the Brannand Valley, climbing up the tops towards Miller House, but again nothing was discovered.
A clue was found in an old document from the Hornby estate. In 1939 Colonel W H Chipindall had published a Survey of the Hornby Castle Estates (Chetham Society) and his book reprinted certain old descriptions of the various boundaries. One document described the Boundaries of Roeburndale (spelt Robrondale) and mentioned an old ditch at the top of Whitendale.
This could only be the Harrington Dike without the name, and so the account given of it was studied very carefully. The following is a quotation of the part about Harrington Dike:
"So ascending Northward as the same ditch goeth to Whitledale Cross, and so turning westward along the same old ditch dividing Roborondale and Botton to the Brown Hill, and so following along the same ditch westward to the East end of Hawkshead, and thence descending northward to the said ditch to Thursgill Stoop..." Unfortunately there is no trace today of Whitendale Cross.
In view of the mention of Botton and Thrushgill by the old document, an attempt was made to find the Dike from that side. The approach was made from near where the Manchester Corporation has its new tunnel and incidentally from where the Roman road begins to climb the fells towards Bolland.
From Thrushgill the slope towards Hawkshead was climbed and in the distance a long dark line, too straight to be a natural landmark, slowly became more visible, marking its way along the side of the fell. The east end of Hawkshead is certainly one of the best places to discover the old ditch, and from there it can be followed with ease, either towards Whitendale or in the opposite direction above Thrushgill.
If it followed the line of the watershed, it would look like a wide drainage ditch, but it makes no attempt to follow the lie of the land. It is clearly a boundary ditch or foss ("Bowland Forest and the Hodder Valley" Ch XXII 119).
Extensive perambulation (in conjunction with RR 7c) and enquiry of local hill farms failed to reveal either extant remains, or knowledge of this boundary work. The only 'long dark line' visible from the Hawkeshead climb (SD 6360) is the agger of the Roman road, and it appears almost certain that authority 3 has made an error in his assumption that this is the Harrington Dyke. The general line to Whitendale is across bleak, remote and dangerous terrain (the latter due to high peat bogs and marsh). At no point was a physical boundary visible and inspection of air cover was also negative (F1 FDC 05-APR-77). (PastScape)

Recorded in PastScape as Medieval Defensive Dyke. The reference 'Bowland Forest and the Hodder Valley' is not identified by Gatehouse (Is it a chapter title in some book, rather than the book title itself?). Not does the mention of Harringtons Ditch in Whittaker seem to coincided with the report in the PastScape record. Whittaker mentions it only in quoting a C17 preambulation of the bounds of Bowland Forest which gives no description of the form of Harrington's ditch (beyond the word ditch). The assumption that because the ditch takes the name of a medieval land holder means it dates from the medieval period is likely to be erroneous. Regardless of what Harrington's Dyke was, where it ran and its date it can not have been a defensive feature in this desolate upland area.
PastScape locates in square SD6358. Gatehouse associates the Millhouse mentioned in the C17 preambualtion the ditch "lying over the west end of Millhouse" with Millers House at SD622554 (This lies on the county boundary - does this line respect an older boundary marker?)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:29

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