The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland

Cup-Marked Stone on Delves Lane, near Nelson, Lancashire.

Cup marked stone on Delves Lane, near Nelson, Lancashire.

Cup-marked Stone on Delves Lane, Nelson.

NGR: SD 8909 3701. At the edge of a field beside Delves Lane, near Nelson, in Lancashire, there is a flat, shaped stone on the ground that looks to have “possible” ancient carvings on it. This smooth, strangely-shaped, and worn, rather innocuous-looking stone, is to be found at the edge of a farmer’s field and just inside a metal-gated entrance, and not more than a metre away from the country lane that is over-shadowed by the ancient Walton Spire monolith, over to the north. The stone has one well-defined cup marking and three more tiny, weathered cup markings on it, and also fifth and sixth cup marks together at the far side of the stone. It measures 16 inches long by 12 inches at its widest. All in all though this is a very nice stone; but it is a few miles ‘as the crow flies’ from the moorland where most of these petroglyphs would usually be found.

Cup-marked stone on Delves Lane, nr Nelson, in Black & White.

Not far from here, about 230 metres to the south, is the site of a Bronze Age stone circle at ‘Ring Stones Hill’, and, a bit further along the lane and in the corner of a farmer’s field is the site of a Bronze Age burial mound which has, sadly, been ploughed out. And there are also ancient barrows on nearby Knave Hill. But where the cup-marked stone originated from is anyone’s guess; maybe it came from Boulsworth Hill a few miles away, where a few other carved stones have been found, or, did it come from Catlow, ½ a mile to the south; it was here at Catlow that a Bronze Age burial with collared urns was discovered by quarry workers in the 19th century. But whether this carved stone came from any of these sites is not known for certain. Maybe farmers from the past would know that question – if only we could ask them. There is a wall stile a bit further back along Delves Lane if the gate won’t open! Remember, though, that this is farming land.

Copyright © Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2022.

The Marsden Cross, Marsden Heights, Near Nelson, Lancashire.

The (possible) Marsden Cross base at Marsden Heights, near Nelson, in Lancashire.

NGR: SD 8651 3612. Some time long ago a Medieval wayside cross known as ‘The Marsden Cross’ or at least the base of that former cross, used to stand at the side of Kings Causeway, Marsden Heights, near Nelson, Lancashire, roughly where the entrance to Nelson Golf Course Club House is today; the golf course was established in 1902. However, the cross base was moved or re-sited a little way along the road possibly in the 19th century? The large, hefty socket stone (cross-base) now resides in a private cottage garden – the former Scarlett Arms public house – a few hundred metres along the road, which is known as Kings Causeway or ‘The King’s Highway’. General James Yorke Scarlett (1799-1871) led the Charge of the Heavy Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava, Crimea in 1854, and is buried in St John’s churchyard, Holme-in-Cliviger. Kings Causeaway was apparently named after King George (not sure which King George) who had travelled along it, a local lady told me. The stone base that supported the cross shaft was placed in the garden of The Scarlett Arms back in the 19th century – having been moved here from its original position further back along the road. It is marked on an old map of 1893 simply as “stone”. But, what actually became of the cross-shaft and its cross-head, if those ever existed, is not known, though it was probably destroyed, broken up, and then Lost-to-Time. Maybe the remains of the cross and shaft are built into a wall or a building somewhere in the vicinity.

Top of the (possible) Marsden Cross base at Marsden Heights.

The large, hefty lump of stone in the garden of Scarlett Cottage – the former Scarlett Arms public house – on Kings Causeway stands between two and three feet tall, and at the top of the stone a basin-shaped socket hole has been carved with a groove (water channel) to allow water to run out of the basin at one side; however, the basin (the possible socket hole) is not particularly deep. The lady who lives at the cottage uses the top of the stone as a receptacle for lost golf balls that come over from the golf course, or, she has collected some of them from the vicinity. So, was a cross shaft ever fixed into the top of this lump of stone? At the other side of the stone a groove runs part way up; the lady at the cottage thought this had been caused when the stone was moved a few metres from its original position at the lower end of her garden, some years back. Another theory is that the basin in the top of the stone was used as a receptacle for vinegar hundreds of years ago during times of plague; coins would be placed in the vinegar so as to sterilise them before they were handed out to those infected by the dreadful disease and, also maybe the poor of the parish: Haggate and Harle Syke. There are two more wayside cross bases, similar to this one, called The Nogworth and Beth Crosses, near Briercliffe, which date from the 13th century, and were set up by the monks of Whalley Abbey (marking the extent of their lands); this may also be the case with the Marsden Cross.

Sources / References & Related Websites:-

Many thanks to the lady at Scarlett Cottage for allowing me to photograph the cross base, and to the lady who informed me with regard to the history of Kings Causeway.

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Copyright © Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2022.