The Sandstone Ridge Trust received £49,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting new project, The Ridge Rocks and Springs – a sandstone legacy, conducted from 2014 to 2017 throughout the length of the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge. The Trust recruited volunteers from the local communities to join in the project, researching the lost quarries and wells of the Ridge, seeking out their stories and recording them for posterity.
The beautiful Ridge, where Cheshire rises from the plain in a series of rolling hills and dramatic sandstone cliffs, boasts a wealth of historic and natural heritage, from Iron Age hillforts to important heathland, and the project aimed to understand how the sandstone and water supplies have enabled settlers, farmers and industrialists through the ages to develop this environment. The focus was on quarries and methods of extraction, and on historic water supplies as well as springs with reputations for religious, magical or healing properties.
There are stories to be read from the many carvings on the rocks we recorded.The discovery of a boulder with prehistoric carving from Eddisbury hillfort during recent excavations raised the tantalising possibility that other rock-carvings may exist locally and the project included examination of the rock faces for graffiti and other signs of human activity through the ages. Much of this history is in danger: the rocks are eroding, quarries are being filled in, the wells are drying up and memories are fading. The project was an important opportunity to rescue and record undervalued features of our history.
The volunteers received free training workshops to learn more about how to research these features of the Ridge and they took part in a variety of practical research and recording activities with progress-meetings and get-togethers to share and exchange information. The results will be made available through the publication of print and digital materials, local exhibits and guided walks.
Sara Hilton, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North West, said: “The Ridge contains hidden clues as to the way our ancestors lived and how this part of Cheshire developed into what it is today. By delving into this history, volunteers will not only expand their knowledge and learn lots of new skills, but it will also provide a unique record of the area for others to learn, enjoy and be inspired by.”
Interactive distribution maps of RRS project sites
The spread sheet (xml. file) used to generate the distribution map, containing the records produced by the RRS volunteers as part of the Stage One survey is available to download from HERE
You can also follow the project on Facebook for news and photographs.