3. Early Times and the Pre Conquest Period

The West Yorkshire Archaeology Survey records finds of flints on Staups  moor dating back many thousands of years.  It is hard to envisage the landscape of these early times but  it was  not  until two and half thousand years ago that Iron Age farmers succeeded in clearing the  rough scrub and woodland that covered the area  enabling some rudimentary farming to be carried out on the upper terraces of the valley. It was well after the Norman Conquest before the valley floor itself was cleared  of dense woodland.

There is some evidence in Blackshaw of these early inhabitants. Besides an  ancient track leading to Lower Rawtenstall, there is an  “orthostatic” wall (wall  made up of vertical stones) which could be many thousands of years old and fringing the waters of Hippins clough below the  farmhouse there are the remains of a massively constructed boundary wall possibly  Iron Age in date. Other than a pre-conquest quern also found at Hippins, there is no tangible evidence of so-called  Dark Age inhabitants of  the area.

It is to language and dialect that we must look for signs of people who were lived in the area in the Anglo-Saxon period. It is known that there was a  considerable influx of Norwegian settlers via  Ireland and Lancashire  into the Pennine dales. They left a signature of their presence deeply rooted in the Yorkshire dialect in words such as bairn (child), flit (move house), gawp (stare), hey up (hello) laik (play) familiar to all those who had a Yorkshire childhood. Our description of the landscape owes much to these people i.e. fell, beck, ness, moss, and scar. More specifically many words of Norse origin are used to describe settlement and farming. For settlement there are words such as toft, thorpe, gate, flags etc and for farming acre, ing, midden, muck, scale, seat, sett (summer pasture).