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            The Parish Church of St. Mary,

           Penwortham

      

                                   The Landscape about the Church


Castle Hill


North of St. Mary’s Church stands Castle Hill. It consists of a small mound A fifteen feet high standing at  the south end of a larger oval mound B.

 

To the northwest of this larger mound, and twenty-five feet below it, lies a gently sloping promontory C which used to b known as Hangman’s Hillock, but was given as a graveyard to mark the Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887.

West of Hangman’s Hillock runs a narrow gulley down which a road used to run to Marsh Farm and, very early on to a ford across the Ribble. East of Castle Hill  and at the bottom of a steep eroded bank is the course of Narrow Water which used to e a side stream of the Ribble. To the south of  Castle Hill is a fosse, a ditch about fifteen feet deep.


Some have said that Castle Hill was used by the Romans as a look-out in conjunction with others at Tulketh and Walton; there is no direct evidence to support this. Others, seeing that the Domesday Book (1086)  mentions a castle  but no church have thought that Castle Hill was an outwork of a larger citadel centred on the site of the church. Certainly, the earliest known shape of the graveyard (circular) supports this, but there is no trace of the large fosse that would be needed to defend that site from the south and west.

Excavation of a trench and shaft in the smaller mound A revealed a stone pavement lying on a thin layer of soil only a few feet higher than the level of the  larger mound B. On this pavement was a mass of debris - mainly the detritus of meals - up to two feet thick. Among this debris was found a  finely worked Norman prick spur, and part  of what could have been  a paddle or a wooden spade of the sport used by the Normans to raise the earthworks. Protruding from the debris were the remains of a thatched timber building.


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