Witch trials landscape Pendle Hill shares £31m funding boost


A landscape that was home to an infamous group of 17th century witches is among 13 places receiving a share of a £31 million funding boost this Halloween.

The Heritage Lottery Fund is providing £2 million to a project to restore wildlife and the landscape of Pendle Hill in Lancashire, a place bound up with the story of the Pendle witches who were convicted and hanged for witchcraft in 1612.

The money is part of a package of funding for conserving and restoring dramatic landscapes from the Orkney Islands to Cornwall's Penwith in the south western tip of England, and totalling 3,000 square kilometres (1,160 square miles) of countryside.

Funding will help support urgent conservation work, connect local communities to their surroundings and create 50 jobs and 6,000 paid training places, the HLF said.

Pendle Hill is most closely associated with Lancashire's notorious witch trials, held in an atmosphere of superstition and religious persecution, and sparked by the collapse of a man just moments after he was cursed by a self-confessed witch.

The Pendle case, with accusations and counter-accusations between two families, ended with the conviction of 10 people of witchcraft in a trial whose star witness was the nine-year-old daughter of one of the accused, and the execution of nine of them.

But the Pendle Hill project also wants to gather and research other stories of the area's heritage, including the founding of the Quaker movement by George Fox.

Funding for other projects includes £2.6 million to revive a beautiful but threatened drained marshland in the southern part of Norfolk's Broads National Park, the UK's largest protected wetland.

The scheme will support conservation work to protect species including water voles, bitterns and the Norfolk hawker dragonfly and boost the local economy with new opportunities for business and tourism.

A scheme to help manage the visitor hotspots in north-east Wales's Dee Valley and the dramatic Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal World Heritage Site, cleaning up the River Dee to reduce flooding and training in heritage skills, will receive £1.4 million.

And £1.5 million is going to a project centred on Callander, the gateway to the Highlands and Scotland's first national park, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, including developing cultural and natural heritage and creating a cycling and walking network.

Drew Bennellick, HLF head of landscape and natural heritage, said: "Landscapes are more than just beautiful scenery: they are the backdrop to some of history's most notorious events.

"What better way to mark Halloween than to look at how Pendle Hill with its bleak peat bogs and rugged heather moorland was witness to the witchcraft trials phenomenon that spread right across Lancashire in the 1600s.

"Now in its eleventh year, our Landscape Partnership programme has revealed so many fascinating hidden histories as well as protecting many of our most breath-taking and iconic landmarks."

Environment Minister Rory Stewart said: "The Heritage Lottery Fund is now playing an absolutely central role in conserving and restoring our landscape.

"This is only the beginning of what we can all do, working together, to really protect and transform nature and beauty across the British Isles. And above all, ensure people are connected to those landscapes, seeing them and enjoying them."

Other projects receiving funding under HLF's Landscape Partnership programme are:

:: Elan Links - People, Nature & Water, mid Wales - £1.7 million;

:: Living Levels Partnership, Gwent, south Wales - £2.8 million;

:: North Isles Landscape Partnership Scheme, Orkney Islands, Scotland - £3 million;

:: Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland - £2.9 million

:: Lough Erne Landscape Partnership, Fermanagh, Northern Ireland - £2.9 million

:: Nenescape: Revealing the Hidden Stories of the Nene Valley, Northampton - £2.8 million

:: Brightwater Landscape Partnership, County Durham - £2.8 million;

:: Revitalising Redesdale, Northumberland - £1.8 million;

:: First and Last - Our Living Working Landscape', Penwith, Cornwall - £2.7 million.