CONTROVERSIAL plans to inscribe ‘1612’ into Pendle Hill, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the witches trials, have been rejected as ‘inappropriate’.

Barrowford artist Phillippe Handford had been commissioned to spray the date in 500-foot high numerals on the landmark.

But the idea, costing £1,500, had provoked concern among villagers in the shadow of Pendle, with some suggesting it was ‘distasteful’.

And the Bishop of Burnley, the Right Rev John Goddard, questioned whether it was right to celebrate ‘a dark period in our history’.

The plug has now been pulled on the scheme after the Barrowford and Western Parishes committee voted against the idea.

Coun Linda Crossley, the committee’s chairman, said: “The more we looked into this and considered the size of it - because it could be seen from virtually everywhere - we felt that it was inappropriate.”

And with the council being asked to save money wherever possible, it was not felt to be the best use of the authority’s resources, she added.

But town hall bosses say that there is still plenty of opportunities to mark the 400th anniversary of the Pendle Witches trial across the borough.

Mr Handford himself is leading three other artists to create a sculpture trial in and around Barley and Roughlee.

Regeneration director Brian Cookson said: “We’ve got plenty to see without the installation. A fantastic new sculpture trail near Pendle Hill inspired by the Pendle Witches opens this summer.

“We’ve commissioned Mr Handford to lead this and he’s doing a brilliant job with three other acclaimed artists from the north.”

Several theatre productions and at least one film are in the pipeline on the witches theme, including a run for Pendle Borderline’s Devlish Practices, which opens at Colne Muni on May 23.