Earthworks: OS Grid Reference – SD 8895 3420
Archaeology & History
The low hill called Beadle Hill is located about half a mile north of Swinden Reservoir between Worsthorne and Haggate in the area called Extwistle. It is just a short distance south of Monk Hall and a little east of Monk Hall farm. The earthworks are a long rectangular feature on a low hill (more of a mound really).
The earthworks are more noticeable on the south and west sides but less so at the eastern and northern edges of the mound. They can’t be said to be in any way defensive. The thinking is that this was a Romano-British farmstead or settlement from the late 4th century AD and, not as often thought a Roman camp. The name Beadle is apparently from the Anglo-Saxon/Old English word ‘Beado‘ or ‘Beadlo‘, meaning ‘battle.’ So could the hill be the site of some long forgotten skirmish from the time when the Romans were leaving the north of England? Or could it refer to the legendary ‘Battle of Brunanburh’ which was fought close by in 937 AD? In that battle King Athelstan fought against, and defeated, the Danes and Scots who were moving south from Northumbria.
At the south side of Beadle Hill there is an ancient spring, and to the east is Twist Castle—a circular earthwork that could date from the same period as Beadle Hill. Also, there are a number of tumuli and cairns in this area though these are prehistoric in date, probably Neolithic or Bronze-Age. I do not know whether the site has been excavated. If it has, please let us know!
Cockburn, John Henry, The Battle of Brunanburh and its Period, Elucidated by Place-Names, Sir W.C. Leng: Sheffield 1931.
Frost, Roger, A Lancashire Township – The History of Briercliffe-with-Extwistle, Rieve Edge Press: Briercliffe 1982.
© Ray Spencer