Ribchester Parish Council

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What is Ribchester?
The village of Ribchester is encircled by green hills and lies in a curve of the River Ribble mid way between Preston and Clitheroe. It is a pleasant jumble of multi-coloured stone cottages in long twisting terraces. It has three pubs, the White Bull, dated 1707, the Black Bull and the Ribchester Arms. The White Bull has a porch canopy supported by four columns said to be from Roman ruins. The parish church of St. Wilfrid has a sun-dial with the inscription "I am a Shadow. So art Thou. I mark Time. Dost Thou?"
The village  takes its name from the River Ribble and the fort of Bremetennacum ( the walled town by the Ribble).  For this reason, Ribchester has been seen to have a purely Roman foundation. But excavations in 1977 showed that settlements going back to the middle Bronze Age existed in the area. The Romans established a fort in Ribchester in the latter part of the 1st century. This fort was essentially an auxiliary cavalry garrison and two units are known to have been stationed there. The first was a section of Asturian cavalry from northern Spain while the second unit, the Sarmations from Hungary, arrived towards the end of the 2nd Century.

Little is known of the history of Ribchester during the seven hundred years after the departure of the Romans in the early 5th Century. What small ‘tell-tale’ signs remain can perhaps be seen within the parish church of St. Wilfrid, which for most part is essentially 13th Century.

Agriculture remained the principal industry in the area until the 17th and 18th Centuries when handloom weaving became of growing importance to the local economy. Many of the older cottages in the village, particularly in Church Street, were built with this in mind.

Ribchester Parade Helmet

The famous Ribchester Parade Helmet, one of Ribchester’s most enduring symbols, and one of Britain’s most spectacular Roman objects, has recently been voted as the nation’s second favourite Roman find. The accolade was given in a  television vote last summe, organized as part of Time Team’s Big Roman Dig, during the course of a whole week of programmes devoted to Roman Archaeology. First place was awarded to the Vindolanda writing tablets, which have contributed so greatly to our knowledge of Roman life in northern Britain. Interestingly one of these tablets actually came from Ribchester, giving us a claim to at least a small part of the first prize as well!

The helmet was of course an accidental find, rather than an archaeologically excavated object, chanced upon by a 13 year old boy, John Walton, in 1796. Though traditionally thought to have been discovered on the riverbank, it is more likely to have been found behind one of the cottages opposite the primary school. The original is in the British Museum, having been part of Charles Townley’s private collection but Ribchester Museum has an excellent bronze replica on display.

The helmet was part of a hoard of other artefacts, many of which were cavalry related. Of course this comes as no surprise because the garrison of soldiers based at Bremetennacum was a unit of auxiliary cavalry. Two of the most interesting and finely made objects were eye guards that formed part of the protective headgear for a horse known as a chamfron.

The helmet itself is an extremely refined piece of work. The mask depicts a youthful but stylised face with curls of hair that end in snakes’ heads. The helmet is decorated with scenes of combat. Originally it is highly likely that helmet was gilded and the mask silver-plated. This type of helmet was worn during displays of military horsemanship. Some Roman cavalry sports may have resembled medieval jousting.

The Museum is delighted with the outcome of the vote, which came on the back of an extremely successful Roman re-enactment weekend. For the tenth year Legio Secvnda Avgvsta put on a wonderful display of Roman military manoeuvres and demonstrations of civilian life in front of large crowds of enthralled villagers and visitors.

Patrick Tostevin                                                                                                                                                             Ribchester Roman Museum Trust

Millennium Garden

The Sculpture garden is situated at the entrance to Ribchester recreation ground at the junction of Church Street and Pope Croft. Four carvings by sculptor Fiona Bowley celebrate the village’s life past, present and future

The garden is the result of a community project, which grew and grew. It started with a public meeting and the desire to commission a piece of public art to commemorate the Millennium.

Extensive fund- raising followed and the carvings, new paving, railing and a formal yew hedge transformed the entrance to the village playing field.

The four sculptures comprise Ribchester's own Trajan column, which traces the history of the village from pre-Roman times, a sun-dial depicting a cormorant chasing fish from the nearby River Ribble, a panel which celebrates community life and poses a puzzle for those identifying local architectural features and a panel entitled "The Pig, The Ribber and The Devil" which draws from local legend.

Sculptor Fiona Bowley graduated in Fine Art before training as a stone mason. She worked on the restoration of York Minster and her subsequent work can be seen at venues including the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Burnley Library.

 Fiona Finch                                                                                                                                                                      Ribchester Millennium Projects Committee

Simply the Best

The annual Best Kept Village competition, sponsored by Lancashire County Developments Ltd, provides a focus for keeping the local environment up to scratch. Among the honours this year were Knowle Green Village Hall, awarded  a Certificate of Merit,  with the hamlet of Knowle Green highly commended  in the small village class.

But pride of place must go, once again, to SS Peter & Paul's RC Church for being the overall winner of the Place of Worship class. With an award in each of the previous eight years success has been no stranger to the volunteers, shown opposite,  who work so hard to  keep the church and its surrounds in pristine condition and for which the awards are fully justified.

Click Here for more details about SS Peter & Pauls.











Copyright © Ribchester Parish Council 2005/6.  Ribchester Parish Council would like to thank Harry Rawcliffe and the RuralMatrix Project for their assistance in the development of this website