The sculptures are located along a well-marked trail. Most are easy to spot.
Artists contributing include Philippe Handford, Martyn Bednarczuk, Steve Blaylock, Ben Gates, Joe Hesketh, Ngaire Jackson, and Incredible Creations (Victoria Morris and Lee Nicholson).
In addition to the sculptures, Sarah McDade created ten ceramic plaques. Each denotes the story of one of the Pendle witches. Children are encouraged to find each plaque and determine which of the accused it represents. Details can be found on the leaflet available at the cafe/information centre at Barley Picnic Site.
The Pendle Sculpture Trail was launched in 2012 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the trial of the Pendle witches. More sculptures have been added since.
Photographs and information for a selection of the sculptures are detailed below:
This sculpture of a boggart is by Incredible Creations (Victoria Morris and Lee Nicholson).
In folklore, boggarts are malicious, squat, goblin-like creatures that live in muddy holes and bushes. They lurk under bridges and at sharp bends in roads.
Magic Chair is a sculpture by Ben Gates.
The Quaker Tree by Philippe Handford symbolizes the expansion of the Quakers from their humble beginnings in Pendle.
Founder George Fox climbed Pendle Hill in 1652 and had a vision that led him to found the movement.
The Witchfinder by Martyn Bednarczuk was inspired by Roger Nowell, the magistrate that investigated and prosecuted the Pendle witches.
Reconnected 1 and Reconnected 2
Reconnected 1 and 2 are works by Philippe Handford. Illegally felled trees were reconnected to their stumps using metal frames.
Wishing Widow is a sculpture by Joe Hesketh, a Pendle-based avant-garde artist.
Black Dog is a sculpture by Incredible Creations (Victoria Morris and Lee Nicholson).
Demonic black dogs are a common feature in English folklore.
They also featured in the evidence presented at the trial of the Pendle witches.
Alison Device was the ‘witch’ that started the chain of events that led to the trial. In March 1612 she encountered John Law, a pedlar from Halifax, and begged him for some pins. When he refused, Alison cursed him. He immediately fell ill.
John’s son brought the matter to the attention of magistrate Roger Nowell. Nowell brought Device in for questioning. She told him that she had enacted the curse with the aid of a black dog that appeared before her.
Dryad is a sculpture by Incredible Creations (Victoria Morris and Lee Nicholson).
In Greek mythology, dryads are tree nymphs. It was believed a dryad lives only as long as the tree it inhabits.
The dryad depicted in this sculpture has acorn earrings and a butterfly in her hair. She is adorned with leaves cast from locally found specimens. There are polypores (bracket fungi) at the base of the tree.
Unicorn is a sculpture by Incredible Creations (Victoria Morris and Lee Nicholson).
Chained Witches is a sculpture by Peter Naylor depicting the Pendle witches.
Expansion and Other Sculpture Trails and Public Art
Following the success of the Pendle Sculpture Trail at Aitken Wood, Pendle Council decided to expand the trail beyond its original site.
In 2019 additional sculptures were placed at Letcliffe Park in Barnoldswick. Artists contributing include Sally Barker, Tilly Dagnall, Thompson Dagnall, Stathis Dimitriadis, Jack Boutet, and Mary Conroy.
The Panopticons were series of public works of art commissioned by Mid Pennine Arts. There are four works; one of which is in Pendle. They are:
- The Atom – located at Wycoller Country Park in Pendle
- Colourfields – located at Corporation Park in Blackburn
- The Halo – at Haslingden in Rossendale
- Singing Ringing Tree – located near Burnley
Other sculpture trails and collections of public art in North West England include the Ribble Valley Sculpture Trail in Clitheroe, the sculptures at Grizedale Forest in the Lake District, Another Place at Crosby Beach in Merseyside, the Tern Project at Morecambe Promenade, the sculptures at Beacon Fell Country Park near Preston, and the Great Promenade Show in Blackpool.
Location and Parking
The Pendle Sculpture Trail is located in Aitken Wood, adjacent to Upper Black Moss Reservoir, near the village of Barley.
Private vehicles are not permitted on the road to Pendle Sculpture Trail and Aitken Wood (Barley Lane).
The closest parking is the car park at Barley Picnic Site in the centre of the village (postcode BB12 9JX). The start of the trail is around 1 mile from the car park.
To reach the trail, leave the car park and walk through Barley Picnic Site to reach the Pendle Inn (located on The Bullion). Turn right and head north on The Bullion.
After around 150 yards, turn into Barley Lane. There’s a sign for the Pendle Sculpture Trail here. Walk down the road for around ¾ mile to reach Pendle Sculpture Trail.