The Saxons Invade Rishton

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See Part One here - The Roman Conquest.

It was 200 years after this that the Britons finally fell to the Saxons in 600 A. D., although the Saxons since before the Romans had left. Little is known of Saxon Rishton, documents were not kept like the Romans had detailed, historians having had to rely on war songs and other such stories which were always glorified in favour of the tellers side!

Our district was one of the last to fall under Saxon rule, from the Britons vantage points on the hillsides, they saw the Saxon pirates take over Tottleworth, Cowhill, Sidebeet, and the Holt. The Saxons divided these lands into three parts, arable, pasture and common waste land. The common land consisting of moss, moors, and wooded areas which hadn't been cleared for farming.

It was at this time that the name for the town was introduced - "RISC" meaning rushes, and "TUN" - a fortified dwelling place. Even today after centuries of cultivation, our hillsides are still covered by these rushes and rough grass, and the valley below would have been marshy, and certainly covered by the rushes.

It was the Anglo Saxons that first built a wooden palisaded house in the area, and the meaning of Holt also came from them - a "wooden hollow", but this is only partially correct. Its full meaning, as the Saxons used the word, was a piece of land cleared of trees about half way down a well wooded slope. Picture the Hyndburn brook as it would have been in 600 A.D., a clear and sparkling stream with its banks covered in trees, rising sharply to Rishton. This part then was easily the beautiful part of the village, and although ferocious pirates, the Saxons had an eye for beauty. It wasn't just for beauty that the Saxons took this land though, the brook was vitally important to them, for it enabled them to drain water from the land to enable cultivation, and provided water for the cattle.

Other Saxon families soon followed, Tottleworth was next, then Sidebeet, and lastly Cowhill. these were named Totta worth, Side Byht, and Cow Hill respectively. The Saxons made us our lane, or Loyn, from Blackburn to Burnley, which would have been no more than a wet marshy track through the valleys, as the Saxons loved swamps and detested the roman roads. Choosing this root would have been the swampiest way possible.

We must not look on these people who descended on our district with any disdain, as most of us who form the English nation have in our veins a little Saxon blood, but we must also remember that the Saxons married the Britons, so most of us also retain some of our British or Celtic blood.


Parish Church and School Jubilee 1927 by Carlton Noble.