AN amateur archaeologist has been given a lottery grant to help him dig into Bolton's hidden past.

Paul Kay, the founder of the Bolton Cambrian Archaeological and Historical Society, believes the moors around Bolton and Lancashire have secrets to be unearthed which may give a rare insight into life in Anglo-Saxon times and earlier.

He has been awarded £9,900 by the National Lottery Awards For All scheme to help set up the society's headquarters and website, and to start exploring the moors.

"I want to look at the commonly held notion that Lancashire was unremarkable before modern times," said Mr Kay, aged 39, who is a student teacher. "The moors have a lot of archaeological evidence suggesting the area might be a repository for a culture that was altered elsewhere in Britain when invaders arrived from other nations."

It is generally accepted that Lancashire was little more than bogs and moorland before the 12th century when it first started appearing in tax and commercial registers.

However, Mr Kay, of Victoria Grove, Halliwell hopes his work will challenge that view.

He said: "Early Greek writers mentioned the Brigati, which was the tribal name of the people who lived in the area long ago and which formed the basis for the modern name of Britain. "This suggests that Lancashire had a big part to play in our national heritage."

Mr Kay said the weather was also helping his archaeological quest.

"The moors have a lot of history stored within them but water, erosion and the impact of global warming on south facing slopes, which are turning to dust, are doing the digging for us over time.

"Already, several chambered long barrows, which were burial monuments made of enormous flagstones dating from 2000 BC, have been exposed.

"Who knows what else we'll find?"

Over the last 10 years, Mr Kay said he had become "obsessed" with looking for ancient archaeological evidence on the moors. He became frustrated with the dominance of local history work focusing on the industrial revolution and the modern world.

He hopes the lottery grant will help him to recruit more people in piecing together this area's ancient past.

He said: "Lancashire is such a big area and some places are so inaccessible. But there are all sorts of things to look at. People might not realise that gateposts or stones in walls may actually be very interesting stones from the past."