A NEW sculpture trail based on the story of the Pendle Witches is to be created in a wood near Barley.

Four artists have created sculptures that centre on the famous trial of the Pendle Witches to mark the 400th anniversary of that event.

The story will be told through the trail in Aitken Wood, beneath Pendle Hill, which features sculptures made out of stone, wood and metal.

Phillipe Handford, who is originally from Burnley, but now lives in Barrowford and has a workshop in Colne, is the lead artist in the project.

He said: “Between New Year and May 2010 I went up Pendle Hill around 30 times with the view of creating natural sculptures that seemed to excite other people.

“As a result of this I was approached by the council to see if I would be interested in creating some kind of trail.

“It is great to be involved in this project, especially with it being in my neck of the woods. I love this area and the countryside around here.”

Ribble Valley sculptor Martyn Bednarczuk is carving a lifesize Witchfinder General figure for the trail.

He said: “I have done a lot of research to try and get it as accurate as I possibly can. I have had a look at old photos and on the internet to try and get it right.

“I have been working on the sculpture for around three weeks now and still have a bit more to do.”

Hebden Bridge artist Sarah McDade is designing ten ceramic plaques representing each of the Pendle people who were condemned as witches, and Halifax-based Steve Blaylock has crafted creatures such bats and a spider out of sculpted steel.

Mike Williams, tourism officer at Pendle Council, said: “We have four acclaimed artists working on the project and the sculptures will capture the spirit of this inspiring place.

“We hope the sculpture trail will lead to a better understanding of the real people who have become legend as the Pendle Witches.”

Coun Jonathan Eyre, who leads on tourism in Pendle, said: “This project will be a fantastic addition to what Pendle has to offer.

"It will be a great new attraction which I’m sure will bring more visitors to the area.”