AN overgrown cemetery could become the site of an archaelogical dig, if a bid for Heritage Lottery cash is successful.

Funding is to be sought to excavate Haggate Baptist Church cemetery in Halifax Road, Briercliffe, as it is believed a baptistry, dating back to 1760, was on the site.

The parish council and the Briercliffe Society are putting together an application to be submitted in autumn, as the chapel was the first site where the Baptist community could worship in Burnley.

Parish councillor Roger Frost, a local historian and Briercliffe Society member, said: “There’s never been a dig here. It’s an important site for Baptists.”

Baptistries are buildings separate from the chapel, surrounding a font where adult followers of the faith are submerged to be admitted into the church.

Because of the importance of the structure within the faith, baptistries were often elaborately and artistically designed.

Coun Frost said the unkempt cemetery would be tidied if the money was granted, and no graves would be disturbed.

He added: “Some of the money would be used to tidy the overgrown area.

“But I’m not keen on keeping cemeteries as well maintained as parks, because they are valuable wildlife habitats.

“The cemetery on the Halifax Road side is very difficult to maintain because it is so steep, and couldn’t be tended with the usual gardening equipment. It is important to keep them maintained, but not to the point where the grass is being cut every fortnight or month.”