The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland


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Stump Cross, Near Mereclough, Lancashire

Stump Cross as seen from the opposite side of the Long Causeway.

OS Grid Reference: SD 8780 3003. At the side of the Long Causeway, near Mereclough, Lanca-shire, is a standing stone that is locally called ‘Stump Cross’. It is a very weather-beaten stump of a stone which has the name STUMP CROSS carved onto it and also an incised cross. The thinking is that it was originally a Bronze-Age standing stone that had stood on the moors, or it had came from a nearby stone circle? In more recent times, however, it seems to have been chopped down to its current height for it to become a marker stone or guide post, and then brought in to use as a wayside cross; there are other crosses close to the Long Causeway, which is a medieval trackway linking the towns of Burnley, Todmorden and Hebden Bridge. The stone is best reached from the A646 (Todmorden Road). Turn right up to Over Town and Mereclough; then turn right again at the pub and go up hill onto the Long Causeway. Stump Cross is about 1 mile along here at the left side of the road, just before Stone Jug Farm. There is a rough parking place at the opposite side of the road, but the road can be very busy – so please take great care if photographing the stone.

Stump Cross, near Mereclough, Lancashire.

Today ‘Stump Cross’ cuts a lonely figure standing bravely beside The Long Causeway, a wind-swept moorland route between Burnley, Heptonstall and Hebden Bridge, linking Lancashire with west Yorkshire. It is a very worn and weather-beaten stump of a stone but still of local historical interest as a guide post and wayside cross. The words ‘STUMP CROSS’ now quite difficult to make out at the bottom of the stone and the incised cross near the top even more difficult still. It has obviously suffered from being chopped off at the top but this has, in a way, made it into a more shapely little standing stone. And if it was originally a prehistoric standing stone did it come from the moors around here? Did it perhaps stand upon nearby Mosley Height and come from a Bronze Age stone circle there? Or did it come from somewhere else? The Long Causeway was a medieval trackway and, later a packhorse route, though it probably dates from further back into pre-history. There are, or were, several other wayside crosses along, or close to, the Causeway, three such being Robin Cross, Maiden Cross and Mount Cross. Other wayside crosses on or near the Long Causeway have now, sadly, been ‘Lost to Time’.

John Billingsley (2011) tells us that: “In the mediaeval period, the Long Causeway may have also been known, rather literally, as the High Street, and was known as a key conduit in local travel networks. It was then that it picked up its accoutrement of crosses along its length – from west to east, we know of the following named crosses on or near its route: Stump Cross, located on a rise where the road bends……..; Robin Cross (1968 6″, SD8809 2975) which gave its name to Robin Cross Hall and Farm; Maiden Cross, now no more than a scratched inscription on a wall-stone to one side of the wind-farm, 35-40 yards from the site of the original (1968 6″ SD8940 2878) which stood just off the road; Dukes Cross, at a point between Maiden Cross and Stiperden Cross (1968 6″ SD8973 2855), Stiperden Cross, at the junction of the old and new roads, where the new route swings round in a loop to keep to the contours and avoid the muddy direct route with its stream crossing (and Adam’s Well); and Mount Cross (also known as Idol Cross), some yards below the road on Cross Hill, opposite Mount Farm in Shore.”  

Billingsley (2011) refers in his notes to: “Newell, 1911, p174-182. Stump Cross is of course a description, not a name, and may refer to Robin Cross.”

Sources and related websites:-

Billingsley, John, Hood, Head and Hag, Northern Earth, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, 2011.

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=4155

https://thejournalofantiquities.com/2012/05/08/mount-cross-cornholme-west-yorkshire/

Toggle down for Long Causeway:  http://www.calderdalecompanion.co.uk/l.html#l75

https://stevemoxon.co.uk/robin_hood_name_origin_myth_etymology/

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2019.


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Barton Cross Cup-Marked Stone, Near Preston, Lancashire

Barton Cross, near Preston, Lancashire. North-side.

OS Grid Reference: SD 53500 37332. About 1 mile to the east of Barton village on Barton Lane, near Preston, Lancashire, and at the north-side of a country lane or track running up from Barton House, is the ‘Barton Cross’, which is, sadly, an early 20th century cross that now sits in the middle of some very old stone pavings. One of these flat paving stones has prehistoric cup-marks! There are some strange lumps of stone at the side of, and also at the edges of, the surrounding base stones – which are probably from an older cross that had stood on this site in the 19th century – and which may have been of a Late Medieval date? We must though ask where did the cup-marked stone come from? Did it originate on the moors to the north, or did it come from somewhere else? You can reach the cross from Barton Village, a few miles to the north of Preston. Head east onto Barton Lane, going under the M6 Motorway, in the direction of Little Westfield and Goosenagh; the cross can’t be missed as its at the cross-roads, where the lane from Barton House emerges. 

The south-side of the cross.

The present-day ‘Barton Cross’ dates from 1901 and is a pyramidal-shaped stone on a square stone block – with a plain, chunky stone cross on top, which looks to be more recent probably in 2000. But there was at least one older cross on the site prior to this one, which might have been a late Medieval cross? We can see the original socket hole, a strange and curious lump of stone at one side, and four square stones at the edges of the flat stone-paved surround. Were these four stones, at some point in the past, supports or footings for stone posts which would have had iron chains attached to them – thus acting perhaps as a protective surround for the cross? The north-side of the monument has an inscription recording its erection in 1901 by a Preston councilor, whereas the inscription on the south-side records its refurbishment by Barton Parish Council in 2000. I understand that the large lump of stone at the side of the monument could have been an old cheese press, according to the Historic England website. The Historic England list entry number is: 1073555.

Cup-marks on one of the paving stones.

B/w photo of cup-marks on one of the paving stones.

Of much more interest, though, are the ancient cup-markings on one of the flat paved stones around the base of the Barton Cross. This has obviously been fashioned to fit into this position. There are at least 5 small but well-defined cups-marks and maybe 4 or 5 now quite faint ones.  But where did this cup-marked stone originate? Did it come from the moors to the north or northeast, or did it perhaps come from nearer to home? That we will probably never know unless someone living round here can answer that question. It is with thanks to Paul T. Hornby & TNA (The Northern Antiquarian) for discovering this ancient stone with its carvings in 2017. See TNA websites (below) for their site pages.

Sources and related websites:-

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2017/10/12/barton-cross-barton-near-preston-lancashire/

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2017/10/12/barton-cross-barton-near-preston-lancashire/

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1073555

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barton,_Preston

© Copyright, The Journal of Antiquities, 2019.