Friday, 27 September 2013

Darwen Short Stories: Where We've Been And where We're Going!

(Carol Tapp)

Our town owes its existence to the structure of the Darwen Valley and takes us back thousands of years although officially it was given its name by an Act of Parliament in 1887.

The scenery, soil and climate together with a never-ending water supply proved an ideal setting for the cotton industry as well as paper-making. Local coal and clay provided work for hundreds of our ancestors who worked long hours in the quarries and brick and tile works, not to mention the mills. Darren proved a magnet for the money men who also saw to it that chimneys painted an industrial skyline, bringing country folk to our town.

However, evidence of either Neolithic men or their Celtic successors can be found when a stone circle set upright on a hill was discovered just south of Entwistle reservoir. The bad news is that an ignorant farmer removed all the stones to build a wall! The only stamp left of the perfect circle is one large and two small stones left standing upright.

Almost always the rivers and mountains in Britain owe their names to the Cymric (known as ancient Britons') dialect of the Celtic language. Their presence here is proved by our name. 'DWR' is a Cymric word meaning 'water' and 'GWYN' means 'clear-bright-sparkling' or 'the clear stream'.

Cymric remains were found in October 1864 by William Shorrock Ashton as the foundations of 'Ashleigh' were started. On careful examination he found ten interments. One was a heap of burnt bones and others were enclosed in urns. Although no coins or flint was found a bronze dagger was unearthed.

The Romans never settled in our valley, merely passing it by in their marches between Manchester and Ribchester. All this and more, hopefully, will be displayed in our own museum - sooner rather than later if recent reports are to be believed!

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