Thursday, August 16, 2012

About Sabden treacle mines

About 25 miles from my home is Pendle Hill, a great expanse of moorland perhaps best known for its association with the Pendle witches, who roamed that area in the 17th century and had their natural lives ended at the end of a rope after a trial at Lancaster Assizes.

A cannon ball fired from the slopes of Pendle Hill by Oliver Cromwell's army is said to have made the great hole you can still see in the wall of the keep of Clitheroe Castle. That's total fantasy: no cannon ball fired from that distance could possibly have made that amount of damage.

Pendle Hill does have happier associations. George Fox, founder of the Quaker movement, had a vision of  "a great people to be gathered" while on Pendle Hill.

In the shadow of the Big End of Pendle lies Downham, once said to be the prettiest village in Lancashire. At the other end, a road goes over the Nick of Pendle to Sabden in the valley on the other side. Beyond Sabden is Black Hill.

Sabden is known for its treacle mines. The treacle mines are probably Sabden's (pop. 1,371) best-known attribute.

One day recently, in a moment of idle curiosity, I typed "Sabden treacle mines" into the Google monster. It came up with a variety of websites, but I still have no authentic information about the mines' origin.

One day perhaps, if I live long enough, I will hear about how they began. When I do, I will squirrel the information away with the rest of the fairly useless information that makes life so interesting.