The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland


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Peg O’Nell’s Well, Waddow Hall, Near Waddington, Lancashire

Peg o’Nell’s Well, Waddow Hall by Alexander P Kapp (Geograph)

OS Grid Reference: SD 7368 4266. In the grounds of Waddow Hall (south-side) beside the River Ribble at Brungerley Bridge, near Waddington, Lancashire, is a sacred well that is locally called Peg O’Nell’s Well or Peg’s Well, but should perhaps be re-named ‘St Margaret’s Well’. It is probably a pre-Christian spring. Standing next to the well is a headless statue of Peg, who was a servant girl at Waddow Hall a couple of hundred years ago. But, it would seem the statue is actually that of St Margaret of Scotland, or maybe St Margaret of Antioch, an early 4th century martyr, and which may have come from a local abbey or Catholic church? The name Peg or Peggy being the diminutive form of Margaret and Nell being a short form of Helen. In folklore, however, Peg is a water spirit or sprite (similar to Jenny Greenteeth, perhaps) who inhabited the River Ribble at Brungerley Bridge; the well being the sacred place where the sprite dwelt and was able to move underground by a tunnel that connected the well to the river. The 17th century Waddow Hall is now a hotel and activity centre for girlguides in the northwest. Walk along the driveway (footpath) to the hall from Brungerley Bridge on the B6478, and then best to ask for permission and directions to the well.

In an article published in Pendle & Burnley Magazine (1987) called ‘The Legend of ‘Poor Peg’, tells that: “Whenever an un-common amount of accidents happen around one particular spot, whisperings of an ‘evil spirit’ or ‘malevolent presence’ will abound. Centuries ago there occurred such a series of unexplained incidents along the stretch of the Ribble near Brungerley Bridge, Clitheroe. 

“Before the bridge was built (during the early part of the nineteenth century) all travelers were compelled to cross the Ribble at this point using the old “Hipping Stones’. “The local inhabitants, in attempting to explain the numerous misadventures and drownings, blamed them all on an evil water-sprite, who demanded sacrifice. It soon became the custom to placate the sprite by drowning small animals in the river, with the hope of avoiding the necessity of a human victim. Time passed by, and the frequency of the accidents decreased. The legend became almost forgotten, until the untimely death of a young servant girl.

“Peg O’Nell was in service at Waddow Hall, over a hundred years ago. Her mistress was not an easy woman to work for, according to local account. Some reports indicate that she was regarded as being a witch. Whatever the truth, the Hall at that time was not a happy household. Maybe the servants, when huddled together on cold winter nights, regaled each other with tales of witches and sprites, eventually going to bed both tired and frightened. It was possibly on such a night, with the wind rattling the window panes, and the rain pounding on the ground outside the house, that Peg and her mistress engaged themselves in a heated argument. Obviously Peg was not a girl who took kindly to abuse, but in answering back the lady of the house, Peg only increased the woman’s wrath. More out of spite than necessity, Peg was sent to fetch some water from the river (or the well). In the chilling night air, with the wind lashing her face and body, Peg stumbled toward the Hipping Stones. Her feet constantly slipped on the sodden earth bruising her arms and legs. Her anger soon turned to misery. With the final words of her mistress ringing in her ears “‘may you break your neck and die”‘, she stooped to fill the pails. Peg was never seen alive again. Next  day her drowned body was found by the river, her neck was broken. The water sprite had claimed another victim! From now on there would be two restless spirits to trouble the inhabitants around Brungerley Bridge. 

Statue of St Margaret at Waddow Hall, Lancashire

“Waddow Hall became the scene of some unexplainable phenomenon. Footsteps would be heard in the empty rooms, clanging pails would wake the servants at night, and most disturbing of all the figure of a frail young girl could occasionally be seen walking the corridors, only to disappear when confronted with member of the household. The drownings around the Hipping Stones became more frequent, and the legend took hold, that Peg was taking her revenge by claiming a life every seven years. So familiar with the tale were the local population that a statue which stood in the garden of Waddow Hall was christened ‘Peg’. The Hall changed hands frequently (perhaps it really was poor Peg driving them out), until a Mr. & Mrs. Starkie took up residence. Peg must have taken a particular dislike to this couple for Mr. Starkie suffered a catalogue of catastrophies which, of course, he blamed on Peg. One day after falling from his horse while out hunting, he was brought home all the while giving vent to his foul temper. His wife on seeing his mood, and knowing she would again bear the brunt of his vitriolic tongue, she rushed out, and picking up an axe she attacked the statue, severing the head with one blow. From then on the accidents grew less frequent, and Peg’s powers were apparently curtailed.” 

Carole L. Nelson (1998) in her article for ‘Source—The Holy Wells Journal’, tells of her visit to the well: “It was comforting to learn, before I embarked on my visit to the well with my family, that the curse was in due course, broken. The guide tells of how a young male traveler was warned against crossing the Hipping Stones, or stepping stones, at Brungerley Bridge by an innkeeper who considered the river to be so swollen as to be unsafe. The innkeeper tried his best to dissuade him from crossing by adding that it was Peg’s Night but the traveler merely laughed and replied that if he died he would make sure that Peg O’Nell did not trouble the community again. He set off on his horse and was never seen again. His disappearance marked an end to Peg’s reign of terror at the well.

“The second account of the well name is associated with the headless statuette adjacent to the spring. It has been suggested that the figure possibly represents St. Margaret of Scotland (1046-93). Margaret, according to her biographer, Turgot, is said to have brought a strongly piteous and civilizing influence to Scottish court following her marriage to Malcolm 111. It is supposed to have been moved following the Dissolution and it is possible that the plain name of Peg was employed in a derisory, anti-Catholic gesture. “

Alternately, the name and the servant girl story may have been a means of protecting the true identity of the statuette. Because some individual or group of individuals had obviously taken pains to secure its rescue it is possible they were Catholics. With a fictitious, non-religious cover story the statue, and those who protected it would have been less likely to suffer retribution at Protestant hands.

“The figure is now set in concrete to protect it against theft. Its base is a roughly cut rectangle and no feet are visible. One hand holds a stem of a flower or perhaps a scepter whilst the other holds a book. The back of the figure has no detailed sculpture, suggesting that in its original location it would have stood against a wall or inside a niche.

“The well itself appeared to have dried up at the time of my visit and I am uncertain whether this is its permanent con-dition. The cavity which would have held the spring is rectangular – roughly 4 x 3 ft and sinks to a depth of about 3ft. The area of the well is enclosed by a wooden fence.”  

John Dixon (1993) tells that: “Kept in the farmhouse at Brungerley is the figure of a woman carved in oak. Sadly the figure was slightly damaged by a barn fire some years ago, but thankfully rescued by the farmer. Upon examination the figure shows to have been once highly painted. The style of costume and headgear depict a woman from the medieval period — St Helen, wife of Constantine?” St Helen, as we already know, is the patron saint of the nearby parish church at Waddington. The village of Waddington and also the hamlet of Waddow take their names from Wadda, an Anglo Saxon chieftain who, according to legend, resided here way back in the mists of time.

Terence W. Whitaker (1980) adds more about the statue beside the well. He says that: “The headless statue still stands near the Hall, I believe, but who she really is and who brought her here can only be speculation on my part. It is possibly a statue of St Margaret, most probably it was brought from Sawley Abbey during the Reformation, and possibly damaged during the violent days of the introduction of Protestantism, in the reign of Edward VI. Whoever it is and wherever the statue came from, for a great number of years the figure was associated with any evil happenings that took place in the vicinity.

“The Hall itself is reputed to be haunted. In one room the atmosphere is said to be very cold all the year round; dogs refuse to enter, and several times a spectral mist has appeared. Some people think that the decapitated head of the statue was hidden in this room, while others say that this was the room where the unfortunate Peg slept and where she was brought on the day she died.” 

Sources and related websites:-

Bord, Janet & Colin, Sacred Waters, Paladin Books, London, 1986. 

Dixon, John & Phillip, Journeys Through Brigantia, Volume Nine: The Ribble Valley, Aussteiger Publications, Barnoldswick, 1993.

Nelson, Carole L., Peg O’Nell’s Well, Source — The Holy Wells Journal, No.6, Swn y Mor, Mount Pleasant, Swansea, Summer 1998.

Pendle & Burnley Magazine, The Legend of ‘Poor Peg’, Valley Press, Ramsbottom, Bury, Lancs, 1987.

Whitaker, Terence W., Lancashire’s Ghosts and Legends, Robert Hale Limited, Clerkenwell Green, London, 1980.

Photo (top) by Alexander P Kapp:  http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2224794

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waddow_Hall

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/peg-o-nells-well/

http://www.oldclitheroe.co.uk/page37.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/lancashire/content/articles/2005/10/05/spooky_peg_onell_feature.shtml

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2018.


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Roman Inscribed Stone in St John the Baptist’s Church, Tunstall, Lancashire

Roman Inscribed Stone by karl & Ali (Geograph).

OS Grid Reference: SD 61411 73931. In the 15th century parish church of St John the Baptist at Tunstall, near Kirkby Lonsdale, Lancashire, there is a fragment of an inscribed Roman stone, which was perhaps part of an altar but, according to the church guide, is actually a votive stone with a dedication in Latin to two Roman dieties – very roughly carved onto it; the stone was found in the 1800s at the Roman fort of Burrow (CALACVM), a couple of miles to the north. The stone was brought into the church from the churchyard in the early 20th century and was set (upside down) into a window jamb of the north aisle during restoration work. Also of interest within the church is the altar stone which is considered to be Anglian and to date from the 8th century? St John the Baptist’s church can be found along Church Lane about ¼ of a mile to the northeast of the village. The village of Tunstall itself is roughly 3½ miles to the south of Kirby Lonsdale on the A683 and 4 miles southwest of Cowan Bridge.

The Roman votive ‘altar’ stone with its Latin inscription reads: ‘DEOS ASCLEPIO ET HYGIAEAE P S SVA CVM SVIS IVL SATVRNINVS’ and when translated is something like: “To the dieties (gods) Asclepius and Hygiaea, Julius Saturninus placed This Here for himself and his family.” The word ‘SANCTO – Sacred’ can sometimes be placed at the beginning of an inscription like this as another variation.

Drawing of Roman Stone, John Cotton.

Sara Mason (1994) in her work concerning the church and parish of Tunstall tells us that “A stone in the present church is dedicated to Aesculepius, the pagan Roman god of medicine and Hygeia, goddess of healing. This was salvaged from the ruins of the Roman fort at Burrow in the eighteenth century by the Reverend Richard Rauthmell. And a fragment of another triangular Roman stone was built into a farmhouse wall in Burrow; a remaining piece was said to be in the    keeping of the vicar of Tunstall.”

Mason also adds regarding the: “Fragment of Roman votive stone: this, with a dedication to Aesculepius and Hygeia (god of medicine and goddess of healing) by one Julius Saturninus, was incorporated into the left jamb of the most eastern window of the north aisle during the 1907 restoration of the Church.”

Sara Mason (1994) adds that: “The stone of which the altar in the present church is made is considered to be Anglian (eighth century) and bears evidence of early Christian worship at Tunstall, possibly from when St Wilfred came westwards from Ripon. It was put into its present place in the 1950s. A medieval burial slab was reused and preserved, as a quoin in the old school house in the Church Lane.

The Roman road from Ribchester to Overburrow Fort runs near Tunstall Church and it is possible that an early church was built there because it was close to the road. However, churches, being on consecrated land, rarely change site. The field named Crosber — up the Church Lane, between the Cant beck and the Roman road — may refer as much to the crossing of the Roman Road by the road from Burton in Lonsdale towards the Lune, as to the possibility of a preaching cross there.”  

Lawrence E. Jones & Roy Tricker (1992) tell us a bit about the church, saying that: “Visiting a country church like this, in its delightful rural setting, stops people imagining that Lancashire is just industry and suburbia. This lovely church of St   John the Baptist was much rebuilt in 1415, but incorporates earlier work, and we enter beneath a fine two-storeyed porch, to admire 15th and 16th century glass from Flanders in the east window and much else in this atmospheric place. The medieval altar stone, cast out at the Reformation, has now been restored to its rightful use.” 

Nikolaus Pevsner (1979) describes St John Baptist Church in ‘His’ way, saying that: “The only church in North Lancashire which one can praise for never having given in to sweeping suggestions to restore windows and other features. How right Ruskin and Morris were ! It creates a human appeal which cannot otherwise be roused. The church was rebuilt by Sir Thomas Tunstal about 1415, but the W and E responds of the N arcade have early C13 capitals, and the W lancets of the aisles are probably also C13. On the N side is a two-light Dec window. The two-storeyed porch is the finest piece of the C15 work. The Perp tracery of the S aisle and the Perp arcades are coarse. — FONT. C18 stone baluster with an elliptical marble baluster. — ROMAN ALTAR to Asclepius and Hygieia (NE window sill). — STAINED GLASS. The E window has Nether-landish late C15 and C16 glass from two different sources. It was brought from Flanders by Richard T. North before 1833. — PLATE. Chalice and Paten by Richard Bayley, 1708; Paten by Henry Jay, 1709-10; Chalice inscribed 1713; Paten and Flagon by Thomas Mason, 1718-19. — MONUMENTS. Defaced early C16 stone effigy (S chapel), probably Sir Thomas Tunstal. — Many Tablets, eg. Lt. Miles North, 1837, with the relief of a shipwreck.”

Also of interest: there are several Medieval carved stones leaning against the outside wall of the church, one of which could be a cross-head, but its age is uncertain though it is possibly Anglo-Saxon?

Sources and related websites:-

Jones, Lawrence E. & Tricker, Roy, County Guide To English Churches, Countryside Books, Newbury, Berkshire, 1992. 

Mason, Sara, The Church And Parish Of Tunstall, (Drawings by John Cotton), December 1994.

Pevsner, Nikolaus, The Buildings of England — North Lancashire, Penguin Books Ltd., Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England, 1979.

Photo (top) by karl & Ali:  http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1992950

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/modules.php?op=modload&name=a312&file=index&do=showpic&pid=133149

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_John_the_Baptist%27s_Church,_Tunstall

https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101071642-church-of-st-john-the-baptist-tunstall#.W4R9w1K0Vjo

http://cumbrianchurches.blogspot.com/2009/08/tunstall-st-john-baptist.html

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g8536808-d8532119-Reviews-St_John_the_Baptist_s_Church-Tunstall_Lancaster_District_Lancashire_England.html

© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2018. 

 

  


Fairy Holes Cave, Whitewell, Forest of Bowland, Lancashire

Fairy Holes Cave by Andy Davis (Geograph)

OS Grid Reference: SD 6553 4678. On a tree-clad limestone hill above the River Hodder at Whitewell in the Forest of Bowland, Lancashire, there is a large cave or rock shelter where, from Prehistoric times, evidence of human habitation has been found. The cave is located on the south-facing slope of New Laund Hill, just to the south of New Laund farm. There are two smaller caves close by, but this larger cave proved to be of great archaeological interest back in the late 1940s, 1960s, and again in more recent years, when there were many finds including a fragment of a Bronze Age collared funery urn.   To reach Fairy Hole Cave cross over the River Hodder via the stepping stones opposite St Michael’s church, and head up beside the woods for 300m or so. There are two footpaths, the first might not be accessible, but on the second footpath at New Laund farm walk to the southwest (above the woods) for 215m; then walk down into the woodland to find the larger of the three caves on this south-sloping side of the hill, high above Whitewell and the River Hodder.

Fairy Holes Cave, Whitewell (artefacts).

Sarah Thomlinson in her work ‘Life In Bronze Age Times‘, writes about Fairy Hole Cave, saying: “This cave is situated on the south facing slope of New Laund Hill in Bowland Forest. It is 20m. long, 1.8m. wide and 3m. high. Excavations of the cave floor have shown that it was a domestic living site for prehistoric man. Some of the finds are pictured left. Among them are pottery fragments, including a piece of collared urn, which were discovered on the flat platform at the mouth of the cave. They tell us that the cave was occupied during the middle Bronze Age, 1600 — 1500 B.C. Pieces of red raddle were also found . Red raddle is a coloured clay which was used as a paint for decoration. A number of animal bones have been identified as be-longing to domesticated cattle, fallow deer and rabbit. Evidence of metal working was provided by lumps of bronze slag, the waste product from smelting . However, a stone pounder and fragments of flint show that stone working was still going on.”

The site entry ( No. 9) in the‘Lancashire Archaeological Bulletin’ (1984) for the parish of Bowland-with-Leagram. Site Name: Fairy Hole Cave. N.G.R. SD 655 468. Primary Reference: Musson 1947. Disposition of Finds: L.C.M.S. “Fragment of pottery, reconstructed by C.F.C. Hawkes as a small (7½” high) collared urn, found in excavating a limestone cave. Hawkes suggested domestic use. Illustration from Musson (left) 1947 – Plate B.” And also given is the Bibliography: Musson, R. C. (1947). A Bronze Age cave site in the little Bolland area of Lancashire: report of excavation. LCAS 59 (1947) 161 – 170. Please note Bolland should probably mean ‘Bowland’.

John Dixon (1992) does not mention Fairy Hole Cave in this volume. However, he does tell that a Roman or Bronze Age Camp used to exist opposite the Keeper’s House in Whitwell village, according to W. Thompson Watkin (1883) who referred to the earlier 1849 ‘Topographical Dictionary’ (7th Ed.) by Lewis; but that all traces of this have gone. John refers to Whitaker’s ‘History of Whalley’, adding here that that author mentions there used to be the remains of a small encampment and also a cairn of stones which contained a kist vaen and skeleton opposite the same Keeper’s House. The Keeper’s house is now the local inn. So maybe both authors were talking about same site?, John suggests.

John also adds that in 1984 a large round stone was found in the river near to the inn. On closer inspection, archaeologists declared the carved-out stone to be a mortar used for grinding food grains, and they dated it to the Bronze Age. This stone is now locally known as ‘The Whitewell Stone’, which is today housed in the hotel in the village.

Sources & related websites:-

Dixon, John & Mann, Bob, Journeys Through Brigantia  (Volume Eight) The Forest of Bowland, Aussteiger Publications, Barnoldswick, 1992.

Edwards, Margaret & Ben, Lancashire Archaeological Bulletin, Vol. 10, No. 2/3, May & July 1984.

Thomlinson, Sarah & O’Donnell, John, Life In Bronze Age Times, (A Resource Book For Teachers), Pendle Environmental Studies Group, Curriculum Development Centre, Burnley.

Photo (top) by Andy Davis:  https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/5428095

FAIRY HOLES CAVE – WHITEWELL.

https://www.uclan.ac.uk/research/explore/projects/sheltering_memory.php

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowland-with-Leagram

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=4776

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2018.


The Wolverhampton Cross, St Peter’s Church, Wolverhampton, West Midlands

The Wolverhampton Cross, St Peter’s Church, Wolverhampton.

Information board near the cross, St Peter’s Church, Wolverhampton.

OS Grid Reference: SO 91406 98769.  Near the south door of St Peter’s Parish Church, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, stands a 4m high blackened column which is called ‘The Wolverhampton Cross’, St Peter’s Garden Cross, or sometimes Saint Wulfruna’s Cross. This curious column may, in fact, have come from the Roman town of Wroxeter, but in the mid-9th century AD Saxon stone-masons added carvings to it and, from that time on, it became a preaching cross that ‘may’ have been associated with a Saxon monastery on the site, though there seems to be little evidence for that. A small, slender stone cross used to be affixed to the top of the column’s capital. The decorative Anglo-Saxon carvings on this cylindrical shaped monument are now very faint and indecipherable, but in certain light and shade they tend to be more visible. At the north-side of the church is a modern statue of Wulfruna, a 10th century Mercian saint. St Peter’s Collegiate Church stands between the Council Offices and Wolverhampton Gallery on Wulfruna Street and St Peter’s Walk, at the north-side of central Wolverhampton, opposite the University and Arena Theatre buildings.

The Wolverhampton Cross stands beside St Peter’s parish church.

The Wolverhampton Cross, Wroxeter Roman column, St Peter’s Garden Cross or, even Saint Wulfruna’s Cross, call it what you will, is a column/pillar made of sandstone that stands just over 4 metres (13½ feet) high on its large sturdy base of four rounded steps. It cylinder-shaped shaft gradually tapers away towards the top to be surmounted by a capital where originally a cross was built onto it – and what a spectacular monument it must have been. Thought to date from 850 AD although historians now tend to think that it was carved in the late 10th century at which time (994 AD) a monastery was founded here by St Wulfruna and the original church perhaps raised to ‘minster status’, although scholars think it unlikely that there ever was a Saxon monastery. The present church is 15th century. If the column did originally come from Roman Wroxeter (Viraconium), could it have been stolen by Saxon stone carvers? – so to speak, and then brought to Wolverhampton! There are carvings on the column, although faint, of foliage, acanthus leaves, scrolls, beasts, birds and other ornament, but you’ll need to look very closely and have the right light and shade.

Robert Harbison (1993) writes that: “Outside the S door is the mid 9c Wolverhampton cross. From afar it looks like a column suffering from comically exaggerated entasis. It is very black and hard to decipher, but at the right distance you see roundels separated by decorative bands, then a subliminal lattice and, depending from it, V-shaped feelers of decora-tion which trail off into the uncarved base. It is an inventive scheme without parallel elsewhere.”

Kendrick (1938) “considered the decoration to be unique; the only surviving example in England which demonstrated the southern continental Baroque style.. He also thought (1949) that it illustrated “a taste for a crowded display of finicky decoration”, which is also reflected in the later Stapleford Cross,” according to the Wikipedia website.

Robert Harbison (1993) tells of St Peter’s Church “St Peter’s chancel is long and prominent, made that way in the 1860s by Ewan Christian to balance the 16c tower. Old photos reveal that the E end is all Victorian. Here they were right, because the 17c chancel was undeniably mean. Inside, however, we deduce the addition was planned for external effect, because from within it feels much too long.

“The nave is an awesome space, towering up to the gloom of a good roof. In the N aisle interesting Whallish windows of local provenance. On the Perp stone pulpit there’s a wonderful lion guarding the stair.

“Behind one of the mellow screens in the S transept is a compelling monument to an admiral by Le Sueur, with a mannered lifesize portrait flanked by sprawling babies, a bronze trio of enigmatic force.” 

St Peter’s parish Church with modern statue of St Wulfruna.

As to St Wulfruna, mentioned earlier, not that much is known, though she seems to have been purely a local saint; and a noblewoman of the royal house of Mercia. She was the wife of Earl Athelme, mother of St Wulfric of Burton, and granddaughter of King Aethelred I. King Edgar was related to her. Legend tells that in 948 Wulfruna was kidnapped and imprisoned at Tam-worth by the Viking chieftain, Olaf, but she did manage to escape!  Some have suggested that she founded a convent at or near the present St Peter’s Church (at the place called Hēatūn, later known as Wolverhampton), but this might not be the case. It would seem she was granted some land at Pelsall (Peoleshale) in 985. St Wulfruna died and was buried at Tamworth in 996 or 1005. There is a holy well named after her in Goresbrook Road, Wolverhampton (see link below). A modern statue of Lady Wulfruna by Wheeler stands in the square at the north-side of St Peter’s church.

Sources & related websites:-

Harbison, Robert, The Shell Guide to English Parish Churches, André Deutsch Limited, London, 1993. 

Kendrick T. D., Anglo Saxon Art to AD 900, p 192-3, 1938.

Kendrick T. D., Late Saxon and Viking Art, p 71-2 (plate XLVI), 1949.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolverhampton_Pillar

http://blackcountryhistory.org/collections/getrecord/WOHER_MBL337/

https://thejournalofantiquities.com/2012/08/07/wulfrunas-well-wolverhampton-west-midlands/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wulfrun

http://www.historywebsite.co.uk/articles/wulfruna/wulfruna01.htm

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1005886

http://www.historywebsite.co.uk/articles/Penn/history/AngloSaxons.htm

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2018.

 


Golgotha Lodge, Williamson Park, Lancaster, Lancashire

OS Grid Reference: Approx. SD 4866 6121. At the northwestern side of Lancaster’s Williamson Park at the place strangely known as Golgotha, in the County of Lancashire, there used to be ‘in olden times’ one or more Bronze Age burial mounds or barrows (tumuli). However, there is nothing to see there today as the barrow(s) were destroyed and the park was, sadly, later built over them in 1881. The barrow(s) were located close to Golgotha Lodge, near the western entrance to the park, which has ‘also’ long since disappeared. The biblical name of Golgotha is usually taken to mean ‘a place of skulls’ or ‘hill of skulls’, which is very apt for a place of death and burial – as we had hearabouts. There also used to be a few drumlins or hummocks (small round-shaped hills) around here which may, or may not, have sometimes been mistaken for burial mounds, although obviously not in the case of this particular (destroyed) barrow, or barrows, located near or in the vicinity of Golgotha Lodge.

The barrow(s) (tumuli) were excavated back in 1865 at which time six or more funery urns were found along with some other, smaller finds (grave goods). Mr. J. Harker (1865, 1872 & 1877) has left us with some good information on the site which was near Golgotha Lodge, Lancaster; the destroyed barrow(s) also sometimes going under the name of ‘Lancaster Moor’. The site had lay close to what is today Wyresdale Road (on a ridge of land ) at the edge of the now Williamson Park; and to the northeast of what were Bowerham Barracks (now St Martin’s College and part of the University of Cumbria). In the vicinity of the barracks there was, apparently, another prehistoric mound or barrow but, once again this suffered destruction, and not much is known about it and its location is now difficult to pin down.

The site entry (No. 6) in the ‘Lancashire Archaeological Bulletin’ (1984) for the parish of Lancaster. Site Name: Lancaster Moor. N.G.R. SD 489 611. Primary Reference: Harker 1865 (=Harker 1877b). Disposition of Finds: Siting “A group of urn was found on Lancaster Moor c.1865. Harker describes the site as being ‘a little to the south of the most elevated part of the people’s recreation group’. This cannot be Highfield Recreation Ground, as the Ordnance Survey record card suggests, since this was not in existence even as late as 1893 (First edition O.S. 25” map). Harker also suggests, in dealing with the Bowerham Barracks find of 1877 (Site 8), that there were only 300 yards between the two discoveries. This suggests the general area of Golgotha Lodge for the 1865 site. He also says ‘At the eastern extremity of the barrows the land inclines steeply towards the Asylum ground’. This must be a down slope, but this and the following sentence are the only places where he uses the word ‘barrows’. The sentence quoted, in conjunction with the siting evidence already quoted, suggests that find covered a considerable area.

Stratigraphy “Eight feet below the then current ground level. The top six feet broken stone recently brought from the quarry. Below this, six inches of ‘dark vegetable soil’. ‘Between this soil and the sandstone rock, ordinary drift deposit and marl’.

The six B/A urns found near Golgotha Lodge

Golgotha Lodge Barrow(s). Artefacts (Grave-Goods).

Nature of finds “Urns placed ‘in pairs, at intervals of a yard, in a long extended line extending east and west’. (Exactly what does this mean?) Harker describes and illustrates six urns and an accessory vessel. In one of the urns was an unburnt bone from the head of a fish and a tanged bronze spearhead (Not in Davey and Foster 1975). Another contained a bone pin and two perforated cheek pieces of antler. The riveted dagger blade illustrated by Harker (not in Davey and Foster 1975) came from an urn which was not preserved, which was one of a number nearer the Asylum, where, Harker suggested, the ‘free drainage’ resulted in the urns and their contents being ‘so much decayed…as scarcely to be recognisable’. This point about ‘the urns in this part of the barrows’, expressions such as “Some of them….; others….’ and the fact that ‘fragments of several other urns have been brought to me’ show that the total was many more than the six plus an A.V. [accessory vessel] described.

Ritual “It is frequently implied in the report that all pots contained cremated bone. Harker notes an absence of teeth. He describes a cist containing one pot, the remainder of the space with only a flag to cover the mouth. His description of the disposition of Nos. 1 and 2 is hard to follow. They were ‘placed side by side, a thick flag, nearly two feet square between them and another heavy flag resting on the uprights (?) so as to cover the mouth of both vessels’ All pots were apparently upright since the 1872 urn (site 7) was not, and the fact that the 1865 urns were is there mentioned. Illustration from Harker *1977b — Plate A.” [*Should probably read 1877b).

Sources & related websites:-

Edwards, Margaret & Ben, (Editors), Lancashire Archaeological Bulletin, Vol. 10, No. 2/3, May & July 1984.

https://www.lancaster.gov.uk/…/Lancaster%20District%20Housing%20Sites%20-%20I…

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=6858&m_distance=1.3

http://www.lancaster.gov.uk/sites/williamson-park

http://andrewgough.co.uk/golgotha-england/

https://getoutside.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/local/golgotha-lancaster

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2018.

 

 


Clerk’s Well, Farringdon Lane, Clerkenwell, London E.C.1

Clerk’s Well blue plaque photo by Spudgun67. (Wikimedia Commons)

OS Grid Reference: TQ 31452 82134. On Farringdon Lane in Clerkenwell, London EC1, there is an interesting old well. It may have originally been a “holy well” but was probably more a “sacred well” where, in the distant past miracle plays were performed by the parish clerks (clerics), and further back into history it was perhaps associated with St Mary’s nunnery, a 12th century house of Benedictine nuns and, later of Franciscan nuns, which stood beside the well; the sisters making good use of the water. Adjoining the nunnery was St John’s Priory, the headquarters of the medieval Knights Hospitallers. Clerkenwell, a north London suburb that is now part of Islington, gets its name from ‘this’ ancient water source. The well has sometimes been called ‘Clark’s Well’ though usually ‘Clerks’. It was re-discovered back in 1924 after having been lost for some time. A pump at the corner of Ray Street used to be connected to the Clerk’s Well, a chalybeate spring first recorded way back in 1174. Its stone-built circular well chamber is located down some steps in the basement of no. 16 Well Court, a modern office block in Farringdon Lane – between Ray Street and Vine Street – east of the A201 at the north side of the city.

Arthur Mee (1949), says that: “The Clerk’s Well, from which Clerkenwell takes its name, goes back to Norman times, when London’s parish clerks attracted crowds to the well every year to see their miracle plays. In mid-Victorian days the well was filled with rubbish, but was reopened a few years after the war during excavations in Farringdon Road. We can now go down to a basement and look into the clear water. The wall of the chamber is partly of stone and Tudor brick, and it seems that one side must have formed part of the boundary wall of a nunnery called St Mary’s Priory. Here is part of the pump which stood in the street when the 18th century ended.” 

Robert Charles Hope (1893 & 2012), said of Clark’s or Clerk’s Well that: “Stow, speaking of the wells near London, says that on the north side thereof is a well called Clark’s Well; and in assigning the reason for this appellation, he furnishes us with a curious fact relating to the parish clerks of London. His words are these: “‘Clark’s Well took its name from the parish clerks in London, who of old times were accustomed there yearly to assemble and to play some large history of Holy Scripture.”‘—Brand, Pop. Ant., ii 370, 371.

There are several other wells and springs in and around London, some having been built over by modern buildings and roads, while others have been lost to time. These include: Bride’s Well (Fleet Street), Black Mary Well (Church End), Black Well (Blackwall), Camber Well (Camberwell), Caesar’s Well (Wimbledon), Fagg’s Well, Moss Well (Muswell Hill), Rad Well, Sadler’s Well (Islington)), Shepherd Well (Hampstead), Skinner’s Well (Finsbury), St Clement’s Well (Strand), St Chad’s Well (Shadwell), St Eloy’s Well (Tottenham), St Govor’s Well (Kensington), St John’s Well (Shoreditch) and St Pancras’ Well, and no doubt others that are now no longer in existence, or difficult to find and locate, with only the name to remind us.

Please note:- The well is in the basement of a private office building. Anyone wishing to look at the well close-up should contact The Islington Local History Centre. There is a blue plaque saying: “Clerks’ Well” and an information board – inside the window of no. 16 Farringdon Lane.

Sources & related websites: 

Bottomley, Frank, The Abbey Explorers Guide, Kaye & Ward Ltd., Kingswood, Tadworth, Surrey, 1981.

Hope, Robert Charles, The Legendary Lore of the Holy Wells of England, (Classic Reprint Series), Forgotten Books, 2012. [Originally published 1893]. 

Mee, Arthur, The King’s EnglandLondonHeart of the Empire and Wonder of the World, Hodder & Stoughton Limited, London, 1949.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Clerks%27_Well.

https://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101298055-clerks-well-and-chamberenclosure-in-basement-of-number-16-clerkenwell-ward#.W0aNC1K0Vjo

http://shadyoldlady.com/location.php?loc=1465

https://www.londonremembers.com/memorials/clerks-well

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clerkenwell

Clerk’s Well

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2018.


Cleopatra’s Needle, Victoria Embankment, London W.C.2

The Obelisk.

OS Grid Reference: TQ 30545 80518. Located at the edge of the Victoria Embankment, overlooking the River Thames, in London WC2, stands the famous landmark known as ‘Cleopatra’s Needle’, which is actually an Egyptian obelisk (column) that dates back nearly 3,500 years. At either side of this 21 metre-high column, two Bronze sphinxes guard the column, but ‘they’ are Victorian replicas. This curious carved obelisk made of Aswan granite was originally set-up at Heliopolis in Egypt by the Pharoah Thuthmose III (1450 B.C.) but, after much wrangling over the cost of having it transported to Britain, it was erected at its present location beside the Thames in 1878, though this was only after an arduous and eventful sea journey from Alexandria. There were originally two of these giant columns but its twin went to America to be erected in New York City. Apparently the obelisk has nothing to do with Queen Cleopatra! There are many panels with hieroglyphs on the obelisk, some dating back to Thuthmose III of the 18th Dynasty (1479-25 BC), but others to Rameses II (1250 B.C.). The monument’s location is just south of Waterloo Bridge and just east of Charing Cross underground Station. It can’t really be missed! 

From Heliopolis, Egypt, the obelisks were moved to Alexandria and set up in the Caesareum – a temple built by Cleopatra in honour of Mark Antony or Julius Caesar – by the Romans in 12 BC, during the reign of Augustus, but were toppled some time later. This had the fortuitous effect of burying their faces and so preserving most of the hieroglyphs from the effects of weathering, according to Wikipedia. 

Arthur Mee (1949), says of Cleopatra’s Needle that: “This great column is 35 centuries old. It stands 70 feet high and is 8 feet wide at the bottom and 5 at the top, then ending in a pyramid 7 feet high. It weighs 166 tons, being ten times as heavy as the biggest stone at Stonehenge.

“It was first set up about 1450 BC by Thothmes the Third, who introduced war chariots and horses into Egypt’s army, took Nineveh from the tribes of Syria, and laid waste to Mesopotamia. It was floated down the Nile to the sacred city of Heliopolis, the On of the Bible, where Moses was found in the bulrushes. It was taken down by Augustus and sent to Alexandria where it was set up outside Cleopatra’s palace after her death, standing there for 15 centuries. In 1867 the Khedive, wishing it out of the way, offered it to England, and in 1875 Sir Erasmus Wilson gave £10,000 to bring it home. After half a century it was on its way, cased in an iron cylinder 100 feet long and towed by a steam tug.

Arthur Mee goes on to say: “Alas for the plans of mice and men, it was wrecked in the Bay of Biscay, and on one side of it as it stands today are the names of six seamen who perished in a bold attempt to succor the crew of the obelisk ship Cleopatra during a storm. In the end it came home and all was well, and under its foundation as it stands by the Thames are buried a Bible and the coins and the papers of the day. The bronze sphinxes are by Vulliamy. The damaged patches at the base are the marks of a German bomb. The hundreds of hieroglyphics on its four sides make up two separate inscriptions, for Cleo-patra’s Needle is a witness to the habit of Rameses the Great of putting his name on other people’s monuments. Thothmes set up his inscriptions in the centre of the four sides, and in 200 years, when Rameses came that way, he set up eight columns of inscriptions of his own on each side of the existing ones. The inscription of Thothmes declares that he  has set up two obelisks (the other one stands in New York), capped with gold, as monuments to his divine father Horus the Rising Sun, and on the next two sides he continues to claim his divine origin with due homage to the gods. On the fourth side he makes offerings for a sound life of thirty years. The eight columns added by Rameses express similar homage to the gods, and glorify the rule of Rameses over his country, referring to his chastisement of foreign nations. It is here that we find for the first time known the phrase King of Kings. 

(Photo by: Donald M’Leish).

Mary Fox-Davies (1910 ) tells of the monument in her own friendly style, saying: “You will see this curious column on the Embankment, and wonder perhaps how it came here, and what its history is. It is said to have been one of a pair hewn in Egypt, and erected at Heliopolis near three thousand years ago. Many hundred years later the twin needles were removed to Alexandria, and here they stood until about three hundred years ago. Cleopatra’s Needle was presented to England early in the nineteenth century, but, as you can imagine, much difficulty arose over the question of bringing it the long journey by sea, and it was not removed for many years. Eventually, in 1876, it was enclosed in a huge iron cylinder, which, fitted with sails and rudder, and with a crew of twenty-six men, was taken in tow by a steamer. But in a storm in the Bay of Biscay this queer craft overturned, and was cut adrift from the steamer and abandoned. However, it was found by another vessel, and shortly afterwards brought safely to England and erected on the Embankment.

“An interesting fact about Cleopatra’s Needle is that inside the pedestal on which it stands are several great jars which contain a collection of coins, clothes, newspapers, and many other things typical of England in the nineteenth century. These were placed here when the monument was erected, in imitation of the old Egyptian custom.”

Mary Fox-Davies tells more, saying: “You will notice near the base of the monument some holes and scars in the stone. These were caused during the Great War by a German bomb which exploded near to it, and, had it fallen just a little nearer, would have destroyed for ever this wonderful relic.” 

At either side of Cleopatra’s Needle are two beautifully made cast-bronze sphinxes that were erected here in 1878 to guard and protect the obelisk, though they don’t look directly at it. They were designed by the English architect George John Vulliamy (1817-86). He also designed the iron benches and other Egyptian-style statuary, close by. The two ‘slightly smiling’ sphinxes are replicas of the Great Sphinx which stands beside Khufu’s Pyramid at Giza in Egypt; and they each have hieroglyphs saying: “The good god, Thuthmosis III, given Life”. 

Fox-Davies, Mary, London — Shown To The Children, T. C. & E. C. Jack, Ltd., London & Edinburgh, 1910.

Mee, Arthur, The King’s England — London — Heart of the Empire and Wonder of the World, Hodder & Stoughton Limited, London, 1949.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleopatra%27s_Needle,_London

https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofBritain/Cleopatras-Needle/

http://projectbritain.com/calendar/September/CleopatrasNeedle.html

https://www.theengineer.co.uk/march-1878-cleopatras-needle-obelisk-comes-to-london/

http://looking-at-london.com/2015/09/27/who-is-that-sphinx/

© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2018.