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Could the mystery of the Pendle Witches' Malkin Tower finally be solved?

Archaeologist Mike Woods and Rachel Turner pictured at the site of the planned dig
Archaeologist Mike Woods and Rachel Turner pictured at the site of the planned dig
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Researchers are hoping to uncover one of the hidden secrets of the infamous Pendle Witches.

Old-fashioned digging alongside 21st Century technology aim to solve a 400-year-old mystery in the Pendle Hill countryside.

In an exciting new exploration, archaeologists and volunteers from both sides of the Atlantic will excavate a potential site for Malkin Tower, where it is believed Pendle Witches lived and held coven gatherings.

No trace of the Tower has ever been found.

It was probably destroyed after the Pendle Witches were arrested, tried and executed in 1612.

Since then, the mystery of the Tower’s site has remained part of Pendle’s intriguing past.

Thanks to support from the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the search for Malkin Tower is taking shape - guided by research and analysis by archaeologist Mike Woods of Darwen and Professor Charles Orser, an international expert in the archaeology of poverty, who is based in California.

Geophysical technology which shows underground and land surface features has identified a site at Malkin Tower Farm which is directly in line with, and in walking distance of, Pendle Hill.

The dig, planned for six weeks next year, will focus on a field where owners Rachel and Andrew Turner have, for the first time in 17 years, agreed to professional archaeological excavations. The dig will be carried out by international and local students.

Rachel said: “Apart from pupils from Blacko school, we’ve never given permission before for digs on our land. The wealth of history here is going to die so we must involve young people, especially those who live locally. This dig will be so exciting and interesting.”

Mike Woods, who has been pulling together information via historical research, land study, technology and analysis, said: “The farm and its fields have a history spanning more than four centuries, and they have had different names during that time. If witchcraft is identified at this site, it will be of international importance. We can see from surveys that there is a history underground – which must be excavated first so we can identify anything that’s found.”

The University of Central Lancashire, and the Forest of Bowland AONB are involved with, and are supporting, the Malkin Tower investigation.