A “WEATHERED stone slab” is the subject of a local mystery and campaign to preserve its existence.
Most pedestrians and motorists pass the unprepossessing slab on Chew Valley Road, Greenfield every day without giving it a second glance.
But it has caught the attention of some concerned residents and local history enthusiasts who are keen to retain it as part of Saddleworth’s rich heritage.
The anonymous-looking slab is a historic marker, thought to be nearly 130 years old.
It denotes the boundary between two of Saddleworth’s four meres: Lordsmere and Shawmere.
The meres – also including Friarmere and Quickmere – are rooted in history.
They became the basis of local government in the 19th century and were divided into Upper, Lower and Middle divisions.
But they stemmed from much earlier times, linking together the scattered village settlements, pre-industrial revolution.
However, it is thought the boundary stone is sited in the wrong place, having once been positioned at the top of Wellington Road at its junction with Chew Valley Road.
And further intriguingly is the suggestion it once marked the boundary between Shawmere and another of the meres.
Closer inspection reveals ‘Lordsmere’ could have been chiselled over the original engraving.
In its current position, the stone stands in front of the former Spring Grove Works, now the planned location for a small housing development.
There are concerns any future building work could see the stone accidentally damaged during construction, or its importance overlooked and simply removed.
An Oldham Council spokesman said: “The stone would fall within the red edge of the outline application.
“The responsibility for the stone would fall to the land owner in this instance.
“There are no plans to demolish or remove the stone, as far as we are aware.”
A Greenfield resident, who asked not to be named, told the Independent: “I think it would be sad if nothing does get done to preserve this artefact for future public viewing and all that happens is that it ends up as infill during the building works or stuck in some Council yard.
“I would hate this matter to become a game of pass the parcel and nothing happens until it’s too late.”
Saddleworth Museum has indicated it would provide a new home for the boundary marker if it is ever removed.
The Independent understands the stone probably dates from the 1890s as the roads were turnpikes before the 1880s.
The old turnpike road names were retained after the turnpike trusts were wound up and the triangular milestones of 1894, of which 29 are still in existence in Saddleworth, use these names.
The Milestone Society is to survey the boundary marker to complete a record for its database.