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A LIFETIME devoted to the study of the history of Nateby and Pilling Moss has resulted in the publication of a book which is certain to become something of a local classic.

John Salisbury, 77, of Nateby, began taking an interest in history as a young teenager while walking through the fields near his native village
looking for the best ponds in which to fish.

His own observations, conversations with local historians, his discoveries while working on local farms and his research with fellow members of Pilling Historical Society prompted him to put his wide knowledge of local history into print.

The idea for a book was sparked in the late 1990s when he decided to record for future generations his record of the historical legacy of the mosslands of Nateby and Pilling.

Six years of putting pen to paper, deciphering notes from "digs", annotating aerial views and selecting photographs of historic scenes on the moss have resulted in a splendid 72-page book which was published this week.

The book has clearly been a labour of love for Mr Salisbury, who has lived in the same Longmoor Lane cottage all his life and who left school at 14 and worked at Eskham House Farm for 23 years before his later career with the county highways department.

It is "received wisdom" among many local history buffs that the main feature of antiquarian interest in these parts is the Bleasdale Circle. That is a contention which Mr Salisbury challenges, claiming there is
more of pre-historic interest in the Pilling and Nateby area than has hitherto been documented.

And it is a claim which has justification. The discovery on the moss (or rather under it) over the years of items such as Neolithic stone implements is certainly evidence for pre-historic settlement.

But what about the other pointers to the distant past?

It is Mr Salisbury's knowledge of such landscape features as dew ponds (evidence of early drainage channels?), ancient cattleways, earthworks which appear man-made (rather than geologically-formed), and the mysterious moss-stocks (the remains of a seeming forest of felled trees beneath the peat) which Mr Salisbury uses to construct his picture of the pre-historic settlement of the area.

The boggy mossland is best known for its peat, and there are many people in the Over Wyre area who can remember when dried peat was used as a fuel.

Mr Salisbury writes: "To see small parties of peat cutters at work, silhouetted against the low horizons of Pilling Moss with the curlews and lapwings calling across the dark mosslands are memories I will never forget!"

The book also ventures beyond the pre-historic to the Roman period suggesting the Roman road near Garstang might take a different route to that which has traditionally been believed.

The large format book is impressively illustrated with old photographs, including aerial views, sketches of historic finds and sketch maps.

John Salisbury's book is likely to be a best seller and should have a place on the bookshelf of anyone interested in the history of this part of Lancashire.

Published by Sue White Secretarial Services
Pilling Copy, Fax & Print Shop. Kurloon, Horse Park Lane, Pilling, Lancs, PR3 6AS
Tel: 01253 799119 Mobile: 07767 248995 Fax: 01253 790366
e-mail: info@ pre-historicpilling.co.uk
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