WATER engineers have made an amzing discovery while carrying out improvements to a reservoir at the foot of Pendle Hill.
A buried cottage with a sealed room and mummified cat bricked up in a wall has been discovered near Lower Black Moss Reservoir, on the outskirts of Barley, and have caused a national media frenzy.
The remains of the cottage have been hidden for at least a century under a grassy mound, close to the supposed location of the notorious Malkin Tower,which played a central role in the Lancashire Witches story.
Carl Sanders, for United Utilities, said: “The building is in remarkable condition. You can walk through it and get a real sense that you’re peering into the past.
“Pendle Hill has a real aura about it, and it’s hard not to be affected by the place. Even before we discovered the building, there were lots of jokes from the lads about broomsticks and black cats. The find has really stunned us all.”
Historian Simon Entwistle said the discovery was “like Tutankhamun’s tomb” for enthusiasts – and well-timed for tourism. He said: “We are just a few months away from the 400th anniversary of the 1612 trials which ended with 10 hangings, and here we have an incredibly rare find, right in the heart of witching country.
“This could even be the famous Malkin Tower, which has been a source of speculation and rumour for centuries. Cats also feature prominently in folklore about witches. It’s an absolutely spellbinding discovery.”
Frank Giecco, who led the excavation team from NP Archaeology, said: “It’s like discovering your own little Pompeii. We rarely get the opportunity to work with something so well preserved. As soon as we started digging we found the tops of doors, and knew we were onto something special.
“The building is a microcosm for the rise and fall of this area, from the time of the Pendle witches to the industrial age. There are layers of local history right before your eyes.”
Items discovered include 19th century crockery, a bedstead, tin bath, and a Victorian cookery range.