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New Sculpture Trail

Thursday, 2nd February 2012

Categories: Latest News

Pendle Witches turn to stone! Work starts on new sculpture trail

Published Friday 6th January 12

Work is getting underway for an imaginative new sculpture trail in Aitken Wood, Barley, beneath Pendle Hill, near the Lancashire town of Nelson.

The trail is designed to attract visitors and mark this year's 400th anniversary of the world famous trial of the Pendle Witches of 1612.

Tourism Officer Mike Williams explained:

"The fascinating true story of the Pendle villagers accused of witchcraft will be creatively told in stone ceramics.

"We have four acclaimed artists working on the project and the sculptures will capture the spirit of this inspiring place.

"We hope the sculpture trail will lead to a better understanding of the real people who have become legend as the Pendle Witches," he added.

The true story of the ten villagers who were condemned for witchcraft and  hanged at Lancaster Castle is one of the best documented witchcraft trials in the world.

Councillor Jonathan Eyre, who leads on tourism in Pendle, said:

"This project will be a fantastic addition to what Pendle has to offer.

"It will be a great new attraction which I'm sure will bring more visitors to the area.

"Cultural attractions like this can be a real beacon to visitors and also help to explain and interpret the history and environment of the area," he added.

The project is being supported by United Utilties, which owns Aitken Wood, and Mid Pennine Arts.

Kirsty Rose, Arts Development Officer for the Pendle Leisure Trust, is also working in partnership with us.

The four artists working on the new trail are:

  • Phillipe Handford, who's creating an intriguing walking wall, an eerie tree and tumbling tree arches
  • Sarah McDade from Hebden Bridge, who's designing ten ceramic plaques representing each of the Pendle people who were condemned as witches
  • Steve Blaylock from Killinghall near Harrogate, who'll be crafting creatures such as bats and a spider out of sculpted steel
  • Master wood-carver Martyn Bednarczuk from the Ribble Valley, who is carving a life-size Witchfinder General figure.

Philippe Handford, the lead artist for the project, who comes from Colne in Pendle said:

"It's great to be involved in this fantastic project.  We've all been inspired
by Mother Nature. 

"There are some intriguing shapes in Aitken Wood and we've all been touched by a sense of Pendle's history," he explained.

"There's a kind of presence which still lingers in the woodland and which has been felt by all the artists," he added.

Anyone wanting to know more about the Pendle Witches, including walking trails, places to visit and the award-winning Pendle Witches Trail can go to

The sculpture trail project is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development:  Europe investing in rural areas, with Defra as the Managing Authority and via the Pennine Lancashire Local Action Group

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