Holcombe Moor Heritage Group (HMHG) are a group of volunteers that are active across the Holcombe Moor area of Bury and beyond into "The Forest of Holcombe". Holcombe Moor is situated between Holcombe, Greenmount and Hawkshaw on the West Pennine Moors, it lies 15 miles north of Manchester.
We have worked closely with the Ministry of Defence on their site, but are not limited to their area of land. However, this area of MoD land is a unique place and we, as a group, are lucky to be able to investigate it and base the majority of our research on it.
The Ministry of Defence Training Area has identifiable human habitation right back to the Middle Stone Age with flints found on Bull Hill. There are other possible and recorded sites across the valley, including two Stone Age axe finds, and landscape features from the Iron Age, Anglo Saxon period and Medieval times. It has been continuously inhabited for well over 5,000 years and is remarkable in that it has suffered very little disturbance during all that time.
(Above: One of the flint finds. Now in Bolton Museum Collection. Photographs taken by Bolton Museum & used by kind permission)
The Holcombe Valley is a very special place and recognised by Oxford University’s Archaeology North faculty as remarkably unspoilt and probably one of the most important historic landscapes in Greater Manchester.Their comments follow a boundary survey carried out by archaeologists and members of the local community that allowed the reconstruction of the training area's landscape prior to 1600.
The army first took over the 900 acres in 1912 and since then has used the land for live firing and exercises. Their usage has fossilized many of the historic field boundaries but sadly has resulted in the loss of several medieval and post medieval farm buildings.
It was in the period 1750 to 1880 that inventions and entrepreneurism hastened what is termed The Industrial Revolution, and in this area that was mainly textiles. Holcombe Valley can be seen as a microcosm of that period when agriculture with its hand loom weaving of wool was moved towards a fully fledged textile industry by the inventions of equipment such as the Spinning Jenny, Carding engines and powered weaving machines. The motive power for these mechanised processes was initially water, steam slowly appearing on the scene much later.
HMHG has started to research and excavate the mills and farms in the valley in order to learn more about this important time in the area's history.
Above Left: Axe Hammer? Possibly Early Bronze Age.
Shaped clay ironstone nodule with perforation. Found near Cinder Hill, Holcombe. Found by Mr Thomas Barlow of Stone Rooks Farm, near Cinder Hill, Holcombe in the bed of the Red Brook, July 1904.
Above Right: Axe Head, possibly Early Bronze Age. Sandstone. Found near to the centre of Holcombe Village.
Both are in the collection of Bolton Museum.
HMHG are an active group with regular digs, walks and talks.
LEFT: A Member's Walk N Talk in July 2016