Heads we lose

Saxon Warrior soldier statues in Longsands, Fulwood''use for mem lane item april 18 2012
Saxon Warrior soldier statues in Longsands, Fulwood''use for mem lane item april 18 2012
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FOR almost a decade and a half they were a fixture at the side of one of the area’s busiest roads, but as ANTHONY COPPIN reports they are now nowhere to be seen ...

The stone Saxon soldier “statues” had stood proudly at the side of the Longsands roundabout for 14 years.

They were both an interesting and imposing feature on the landscape, being seen daily by motorists/commuters from the Longridge and Grimsargh area as they drove to the motorway via junction 31A at Longsands, Fulwood.

Often as I drove past I wondered what they were supposed to be representing, what aspect of local history they were portraying, and if, perhaps, a battle had been fought in that part of our district.

I knew the Battle of Preston was fought somewhere in the area, but these stone characters were not from that era– but from Saxon (or perhaps Viking times, given their “headgear.”)

My puzzle about the stones, and the reason they are (or rather were) at this spot were brought into sharp focus earlier this month after I heard they had been “stolen”.

The soldiers had not been seen for at least three weeks, and it was believed thieves had taken them.

Contactors had recently been in the area cutting trees, and it was initially thought the statues had been moved from the site for safe-keeping.

But police were then brought in and issued an appeal for information about the whereabouts of the six statues, worth in total around £5,000, which they thought had been stolen between March 16 and 31.

The exact age of the stones is not, seemingly, known, though there was a possibility that they had been “stolen to order”, as antique-looking objects can fetch big prices.

My research reveals that the “Saxon Warriors” were commissioned in 1997/8, and put in place by the Homes and Communities Association as part of the development of the area, having been created from unused stone gateposts rescued from a development in Cottam.

Several historic stone items have been stolen from churchyards locally over the past few years, leading to churches and other authorities becoming more security conscious. There is, however, a happy ending to this story.

After publicity about the “lost warriors” the government’s Housing and Communities Agency stepped forward to reveal the full story.

A H&CA spokesman said: “The warriors were removed and put into safe storage in advance of works to improve Bluebell Way and the local road network leading from the M6. They will remain in our safe keeping in a secret Lancashire location until the works are finished later this year and will then be returned to their usual spot.

“We’re sorry for any concern or misunderstanding.

“We’ll let people know when they’re due to return.”

A police spokesman said: “We are no longer investigating the matter.”