Locals visit ancient church site

Paul and Bert Walmsley at the grounds of Dale Head Church
Paul and Bert Walmsley at the grounds of Dale Head Church
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AN ANCIENT church opened its “doors” to visitors once again last month – almost 80 years after being demolished to make way for Stocks Reservoir.

Following a sterling effort by volunteers, the foundations of St James Church, Stocks-in-Bowland, which was built in 1852, were uncovered over a series of weekend tasks which began back in October last year.

The open day celebrated the hard work of those involved in the excavation project and gave members of the public the chance to find out all about the work on site. An appreciative crowd of visitors, many of them from the surrounding area, came along to look around the footprint of the church, view some of the “finds” uncovered during the digging and chat to both volunteers and professional archaeologists about their involvement.

Interested guests were able to walk along the original avenue of trees and step into the church

footprint through what would originally have been the porch. The outline of the nave, chancel,

vestry and organ had all been uncovered, along with the steps leading down into the boiler room.

The site “cabin” was the perfect place to display photographs showing the progress of the project

along with a collection of tiles, glass and metal ware which had been unearthed during the “dig”. Memories and stories of the area and of family connections with the church and school were shared

on what proved to be a lovely afternoon and a fitting end to this stage of the project.

Work on site, however, will continue over the coming months with the consolidation of the

stonework and the placing of interpretive panels which will explain the history of the site to future visitors. The project has been funded by landowners, United Utilities, with a contribution from the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Information about the history of Stocks-in-Bowland was provided by Slaidburn Archive, whilst training and site supervision came from staff at Lancaster–based Oxford Archaeology North.