Os grid reference: SD 8541 4187. This largerly forgotten cross or milestone known as The Blacko Cross, is now lost. The boundary stone or waymarker built into a drystone wall 110 metres to the east of the A682 (Gisburn road), Blacko, Lancashire, is similar in design. This is located at the southwest side of Blacko Hill on which stands Stansfield Tower, a 30 foot high folly built in 1890 by a local grocer of the same name, who ‘had hoped’ to be able to see the Ribble Valley several miles to the west from his this. Blacko Hill is quite ancient, indeed a Bronze-Age axe from 1,500 BC was dug-up near the tower in 1952, and there is an ancient dyke “Black Dyke” running down the side of the hill with drystone walls built over it. There are also a number of ditches, pits and quarrying holes around the hill, which is an indication of the history of the hill over the past few hundred years or so. The place-name Blacko simply means ‘Black Hill’. The village of Barrowford is about 1 mile down the road, and the towns of Nelson and Colne a few miles beyond that. Just a little to the north-west is the area called Admergill.
Sadly, this so-called cross with its Maltese-style cross-shaft has been lost completely. It originally stood at the side of the old turnpike road, now the A682, between the Blacko Bar road and Wheathead lane, close to a well, at which time it was in use as a milestone for what was the Kings Highway, with the place-name “Blacko” carved just beneath the cross. The road links both Gisburn and Clitheroe just has it has done for several hundred years. It is, however, still possible to see where the stone pillar was crudely carved at the top, although even this ‘elegibility’ was slowly being worn away by time and the forces of nature. The cross-shaft appeared to have been broken near the bottom and at the side (see drawing), and then rather poorly restored, which has perhaps added to the demise of this ancient monument. It was originally 4 feet 6 inches high, 1 foot in depth, 8 inches wide in the middle and 5 inches wide at the top where it tapered away. There was some uncertainty about its age, but it was probably late medieval, or perhaps more recent maybe 17th century? It did, however, stand, embedded into a wall, at the south-side of Blacko Hill, before it eventually went missing!
In the 2006 epic book ‘The Valley of the Drawn Sword’ by local author and archaeologist John A Clayton the history and topography of Blacko Hill is discussed at length; and the local authors John Dixon & Bob Mann briefly mention this cross in their excellent book ‘Historic Walks Around The Pendle Way, 1990, but next to nothing is known about its “true” history and so we can only make guesses and assumptions as to its age. A very good drawing of Blacko Cross was done by Mr Bert Hindle the local historian some years ago (see above).
Footnote: In the recent book ‘Blacko History And Archaeology’ by John A Clayton the author says the stone set into the wall near Blacko Tower, is in fact, a waymark stone that is contemporary with The Blacko Cross and, therefore not the original, but he says the stone predates the wall that it is set into. So where is the original ‘Blacko Cross?’
Clayton, John A., The Valley of the Drawn Sword, Barrowford Press, 2006.
Clayton, John A., Blacko History And Archaeology – The Illustrated Pocket History Series, Number Four, Barrowford Press, 2011.
Dixon, John & Mann, Bob., Historic Walks Around The Pendle Way, Aussteiger Publications, Barnoldswick, 1990.
The Northern Antiquarian: http://northernantiquarian.forumotion.net/t291-the-blacko-cross-milestone#1368