The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland


The Laycock Cross, Laycock, Near Keighley, West Yorkshire

The Laycock Cross in West Yorkshire.

NGR: SE 0328 4105. Built onto the top of the wall at the east side of Laycock Lane in the village of Laycock, near Keighley, west Yorkshire, there is a three-armed wayside cross that looks to have some age about it, but whether it is Anglo Saxon or medieval, we don’t really know with any certainty. A few historians had suggested that it might date from the 7th-9th century AD, and to have been set up by early Christian missionaries, although it could actually date from the 11th or 12th century? It is a curious little cross with its bulbous-shaped shaft and short, stubby arms, but all-in-all it is a rather nice looking monument, and different. It has, however, suffered a bit of damage down the centuries, but not enough to spoil the look of the cross. The Laycock Cross is most likely located on a former pilgrims route, the itinerary of which would have included Jennet’s Well at Calversyke, True Well at Goose Eye, Goff Well at Hainworth and Exley Head Cross. Laycock village is first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Its place-name meaning is taken to be ‘a small stream’, but it could also be a personal family name with the obvious local origins.

References & related websites:-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laycock,_West_Yorkshire

http://www.village.laycock.com/

http://www.keighleysharedchurch.org.uk/history.html

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=17831

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2019.


Rieve Edge Cross, Thursden Valley, Lancashire

Rieve Edge Cross above Thursden Valley.

NGR: SD 9076 3457. Rieve Edge is a steep hill overlooking Thursden Valley at the north side of Extwistle Moor, in Lancashire. At its summit is an outcrop of Gritstone rocks with more rock debris on its lower flank, down as far as the Pennine Bridleway, which skirts the lower side of this hill. On one of the large flat rocks on the lower slope of Rieve Edge there is a large carved cross which is “possibly” Medieval, or could it be more recent? And on another rock a bit further up the hill there is a carving of a head with a helmet and some letters; this particular carving being more recent though. There don’t appear to be any prehistoric carvings on the rock outcrop though there are erosion-related holes in some of the rocks. There is a stone with a single cup-mark beside the bridleway. No designated footpath goes up to Rieve Edge from Ridehalgh Lane, in Thursden Valley, so it’s just a case of climbing up the steep hillside with the rock outcrop up ahead of you, but it’s worth the climb just for the views!

Carved head on stone at Rieve Edge, above Thursden Valley.

The crude cross that is carved onto a large flat stone about a quarter of the way up Rieve Edge is what’s referred to as a “Potent” style cross and is similar to the St Chad’s Cross, although their designs are slightly different. Could this cross have been carved by monks from either Whalley abbey or Sawley abbey and, could it mark the extent of their lands, the boundaries of their monastic estates? However, we don’t know when the cross was carved though it could be late Medieval, or maybe more recent? And was it carved by a Whalley monk, or a pilgrim making his way to the abbey? There is another similar cross carved on a rock further up Ridehalgh Lane, although it’s very faint. Going further up the slope of Rieve Edge there is another curious carving on a rock of a helmeted, mustachioed head (probably a knight) with the letters ‘BR’ above. This carving is obviously quite recent in date, but why it was carved, and what it signifies is anyone’s guess. The name “Rieve” as in the context of ‘Rieve Edge’ is taken to mean “a bank of snow”, which sounds about right, but it can mean a few other things too.

Sources / References:-

Post, W. Ellwood, Saints Signs And Symbols, (Second Edition), SPCK, London & Morehouse-Barlow Co, 1974.

https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/rieve

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2019.


Star Carr Ancient Settlement, Near Seamer, North Yorkshire

NGR: TA 02821 81006. Early Mesolithic settlement, village, or campsite to the southeast of Seamer and to the east of A64 Stax-ton to Seamer road, in north Yorkshire. This archaeologically important site is close to the south bank of the river Hertford and just west of Star Carr bridge. However, nothing can be seen today in ‘this flat landscape’ but from an aerial perspective there are visible signs of ancient occupation with many crop marks – these archaeological features dating back to around 8,000 BC. Major Archaeological excavations took place at the site in the mid 20th century and, again in more recent years, and many interesting artefacts from the Mesolithic period have been found during those excavations, including antler implements and deer frontlets, which were probably used as ceremonial masks. A long trackway and footpath heads south and then southeast from Chew Lane at Seamer, going under the A64 and crossing over a few watercourses, to reach the site of Star Carr ancient settlement.

Ian Longworth (1969) tells us that: ‘It was the quick and experienced eye of a local man, Mr John Moore, which first spotted the decayed remains of bone and antler exposed in a field ditch at Star Carr—a vital clue to what lay beneath the peaty soil. The excavations, carried out by Professor Clark of Cambridge University, revealed a vivid picture of what a temporary camp of a group of mesolithic hunters was really like. When the ice-sheets covering northern Yorkshire began to melt a vast lake had formed in what is now the Vale of Pickering. This lake had gradually drained away, leaving behind a series of shallow meres and patches of marshland in its place. It was on the northern shore of one of these meres that the hunters made their camp.

“A rough platform of birch brushwood had been laid down and at one point two trees had been placed at right-angles to the platform out into the water to provide a rough landing-stage. Though it is likely that some sort of hut or shelter would have been erected on the platform, no trace remained. The camp covered an area of about 240 square yards and was probably occupied by a group of three or four families during the winter months and early spring for several years.

“Fortunately for the archaeologist, prehistoric man was not a very tidy soul. Things which were broken or dropped usually remained where they had fallen, so that on a camping site like Star Carr, where the bone and organic material is well pre-served, a remarkably full picture of the life of the community could be obtained. The finds show quite clearly how much of mesolithic man’s existence must have been taken up in the quest for food. Meat was still the main source of nourishment, and from the bones of the animals which the hunters had killed and brought back to their camp we know that red deer was the main object of their hunting expeditions. Bones of this animal were one and a half times as numerous as all the other animals put together. Then in order of importance came the wild ox (or Bos primigenius to give it its full Latin name), followed by elk, roe deer, and wild pig.

“Despite the fact that the hunters were living beside a lake, bones of water-fowl and other birds are very few in number and there is no direct evidence of fishing. No fish bones were found but these are too small and soft to survive well under any conditions and there is plenty of evidence amongst the weapons found on the site that fishing must have played an import-ant part in their life.

Mesolithic implements (after Clark).

“The people of Star Carr did not just eat the meat and throw away the bones and skins of the animals they had caught. These were far too valuable a source of raw materials for making other things. The antlers of red deer, and to some extent elk, were especially useful. Using a flint burin….to cut deep parallel grooves, long splinters were detached from the red-deer antler and made into barbed spearheads. A simple form of hoe or mattock…..was made from elk antler and was used no doubt for grubbing up edible roots. Leg bones were also made into hollow tools which could be used along with the flint scrapers……for dressing skins. These tools and the flint awls…..are clear evidence that the hunters and their wives wore skin clothing, though none of this survives. 

Longworth goes on to say that: “Besides scrapers, burins and awls, flint was also used to make axes and adzes. The two trees which formed the primitive landing-stage showed clear signs that axes had been used to fell them. No boat was found, but a wooden paddle was discovered and no doubt the hunters had a canoe, made from a split tree trunk and hollowed out by means of fire and the flint adzes. Flake knives were also made and small flint points and blades known as microliths.

Microlith’ means literally a ‘small stone’ and is a name given to the small pieces of flaked and trimmed flint used in the composite weapons and tools of the period. Many of the flints must have been used as barbs and tips for arrows. Again, these small flints tell us that the hunters possessed the bow, though no example was found on the site.

Star Carr Antler Frontlet by Mrs Eva Wilson.

“Particularly interesting were the rolls of birch bark found on the site. Birch bark produces a sticky pitch-like substance and the birch-bark rolls represent the raw material from which this pitch was made. This primitive glue was used, among other things, for attaching the small flints to their wooden arrow-shafts. Indeed, a fragment of flint was found with some birch pitch still attached to it. “Intriguing, too, are twenty stag frontlets……, preserving the stag’s antlers still attached to part of the skull, but deliberately lightened and perforated so that the frontlet could be worn as a mask on the head. They were probably worn by the hunters as they stalked their quarry, and perhaps also in ritual dances before the hunters set off on their expeditions. Amongst modern primitive tribes belief in magic plays an important part in the hunter’s life and controls many of his actions.

“The evidence tells us very little of what Star Carr campers looked like. Besides the skin clothing which would have been essential in the cold winters of this early post-glacial period, beads made of stone, perforated deer teeth and amber were worn. Their life, at least in winter, seems to have left little leisure time for devising other forms of decoration. While man remained dependent upon the whims of nature for his food, leisure must have been hard to win.

“The hunters of Star Carr were proto-Maglemosians; that is to say they belong to a phase earlier than the Maglemosian hunters named after a site found in the Magle Mose (‘Great Bog’) near Mullerup in Zealand, Denmark. There are no settlements dating to this later phase in Yorkshire, although several typical spearheads have been found in the east of the county. Whereas the proto-Maglemosians of Star Carr used antler for their spearheads the Maglemosian harpoons are usually made of bone. They have been found at three sites all in the low-lying plain of Holderness, at Brandesburton, Hornsea, and Skipsea. Though most of the Maglemosian finds made so far in Yorkshire have been confined to the low-lying ground of east Yorkshire, these hunters certainly penetrated further inland. Two of their typical flint axes have been found in the West Riding: one at Rishworth in Calderdale and another on Blubberhouses Moor in mid-Wharfedale. Axes have also been found in the North Riding at Nova, near Pickering, and Cockheads in Glaisdale, as well as Skipsea in the south-east of the county.”

Some 3 miles to the southeast of Star Carr is the site of a Bronze Age round barrow at Folkton Wold (NGR: TA 0591 7775), which has become famous for the so-called Follkton Drums find. When the barrow was excavated: “There were found three chalk-cut idols of the Early Bronze Age. These squat, cylindrical objects had been laid in the grave of a five-year-old child, the smallest touching its head, the two larger at the hips. There is nothing else in the world like them, although we can find parallels for some of their individual designs. In very shallow relief they show a curiously composed arrangement of zigzags, lozenges and other geometric designs, all unquestionably with magical significance; on the raised disk at the top of each idol are circular patterns which can be recognized as eye symbols, while each bears on its side a pair of eyes below heavy arched eyebrows. These unique idols are now in the British Museum…..” says Jacquetta Hawkes (1973). 

Sources & Related websites:-

Hawkes, Jacquetta, A Guide To The Prehistoric And Roman Monuments In England And Wales, Cardinal (Sphere Books Ltd), London, 1973.

Longworth, Ian, Regional Archaeologies—Yorkshire, Heinemann Educational Books Ltd., London, 1969. (Line illustrations by Mrs Eva Wilson).

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Carr#/media/File:View_of_Star_Carr_site_looking_NWW.

http://www.starcarr.com/history.html

https://www.archaeology.co.uk/articles/return-to-star-carr-discovering-the-true-size-of-a-mesolithic-settlement.

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1401425

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=8353

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=5139

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2019.

 


Clegyr Boia Hillfort, Near St David’s, Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro), Wales

Plan of Clegyr Boia Hillfort, Pembrokeshire.

OS Grid Reference: SM 73719 25062. About 1 mile to the west of St David’s, at Nant-Y-Felin, in Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro), Wales, is the prehistoric hill-top settlement site and hillfort of Clegyr Boia, which derives its name from a 6th Century pirate; however, the place was settled long before that in the Neolithic Age, and continued to be settled, in one way or another, up until the Dark Ages. The rectangular-shaped hillfort and earlier Neolithic settlement occupy the summit of this small rocky hill (named after an Irish pirate leader called Boia) and are enclosed by ramparts that join up with the existing rock outcrops – forming a secure, defensive site. Legend tells that the fort was destroyed by fire. Archaeological excavations took place on Clegyr Boia in the early 1900s and, more recently in the 1970s. There are two holy wells: one being Ffynnon Dunawd and, at the southwest side, there is Ffynnon Llygaid. From the western side of St David’s: take Pit Street and then Feidr Treginnis road until you see the hillfort in front of you. At least two footpaths lead up to the hillfort from the lane.

Timothy Darvill (1988) tells us that: “The rocky summit of this steep-sided hill on the coastal plain of south-west Dyfed was first occupied in early Neolithic times, and is one of the largest settlements of the period in Wales.

“About 3800BC, at least two rectangular houses stood on the hilltop. Their occupants were probably cattle farmers, and in addition to the large quantity of pottery recovered there were flint tools and polished stone axeheads made from locally outcropping rocks. Whether this settlement was defended is not known, but in Iron Age times a substantial rampart, which still stands 1m high, encircled most of the hilltop. The entrance, fortified with a long entrance tunnel, lay at the south-west corner of the site.”

Darvill adds that: “Legend attributes the site to Boia, an Irish pirate of the 6th century AD. Boia’s wife apparently sacrificed her stepdaughter Dunawd to heathen gods but on the same night Boia himself was slain by a second pirate, named Lisci, and his castle was consumed by fire from heaven.”  

Chris Barber (1987) says that: “This small fort is situated on the summit of a large mass of igneous rock which rises about 45 feet above the surrounding farmland and is roughly 320 feet long by 100 feet wide. ……the summit has been fortified by a bank of stones mingled with earth. Originally, the bank would have been faced on both sides with large slabs set on end, in a similar fashion to the camp of Bwrdd Arthur on Anglesey. Most of the facing stones at Clegyr Boia have been removed for building purposes, but some still remain in place.

“The camp is roughly a rectangular parallelogram with an outpost on the north-eastern extremity. The interior of the main camp and the annexe have been hollowed out, and these excavations have, of course, provided the stone and earth to build the ramparts. In the sixth century the site was occupied by Boia, a Gwyddel chief who gave St David considerable problems, although the latter eventually dealt with him by causing fire to fall from heaven and consume the fortress. There is reputed to be a well here that is a small hollow in the rock, just large enough for a fist to be inserted. It is claimed that the water is good for soothing sore eyes.” 

Children & Nash (2002) tell us more, saying that: “Clegyr Boia is set within rectangular ramparts, measuring 100m by 25m, that may be of Iron Age date. The settlement, excavated in 1943, consists of two Neolithic house structures, a fire pit and a midden (Williams, 1953, 24-9). An earlier excavation revealed a possible third hut, located centrally within the rampart area (Baring-Gould, 1903). Outside the settlement area, a large number of Mesolithic flint scatters suggest continuous occupation of the peninsula for well over 4,000 years.

“One of the houses is oval, the other rectangular. The rectangular structure (7m by 3m) comprised two rows of posts, which may have supported a timber roof. An “unused pit” investigated inside this structure by Audrey Williams was compared by the excavator to similar pits discovered under the Pentre Ifan monument. She also suggested a link between the two sites on the basis of pottery evidence.

* Drawing of a typical Neolithic hill settlement.

Children & Nash go on to tell that: “The oval hut yielded evidence of extensive burning. Barker (1992) has suggested that the burning, plus the deposition of pottery in each of the contexts, indicates possible ritual abandonment. We would argue that the settlement and the two nearby monuments are contemporary, and that the former may have suffered natural abandonment towards the end of the Neolithic, only being re-occupied in the Iron Age. Pottery from the oval hut appears to be identical to examples found in the rectangular structure and in the midden to the west. Three different Neolithic pottery styles have been identified in all, and are similar to wares found in Cornwall, Southern Ireland and the Wessex region. The evidence suggests that a possible exchange network linked these areas. Barker (1992) proposes a Middle Neolithic (4,300 to 3,300 BC) date for the pottery from Clegyr Boia. Recovered from the floors of two huts were shouldered bowls, a number of animal bones, mainly of wild cattle, and limpet shells. 

“A series of hearths to the west of the oval hut yielded a flint arrow-head and a partly-polished stone axe of gritty volcanic tuff (Houlder, 1988). Limpet shells, pottery, and oak and birch charcoal were recovered from the midden. Cattle bone was found in both huts. The bone, together with the shells, suggest that the people of Clegyr Boia existed on a mixed economy of hunting/gathering/fishing with an element of domesticated herding. The settlement may have supported only two or three small family units at any one time.”  

Christopher Houlder (1978) adds to the above saying that: “The rocky summit of a small hill has been enclosed by ramparts joining outcrops to form a secure Iron Age dwelling site, for which precise dating evidence was lacking in excavation. Important Neolithic remains included the substantial rectangular house of a group of cattle farmers, whose pottery indicates an Irish connection in the third millennium B.C.”

Sources / References & Related websites:-

*Airne, C. W, M.A. (Cantab.), The Story of Prehistoric & Roman Britain — Told in Pictures, Sankey, Hudson & Co. Ltd., Manchester.

Barber, Chris, More Mysterious Wales, Paladin, London, 1987. 

Children, George & Nash, George, Monuments In The Landscape . Volume 5 — Neolithic Sites of Cardiganshire Carmarthenshire & Pembrokeshire, Logaston Press, Little Logaston Woonton Almeley, Herefordshire, 2002.

Darvill, Timothy, AA Glovebox Guide — Ancient Britain, Publishing Division of the Automobile Association, Basingstoke, Hampshire, 1988.

Houlder, Christopher, Wales: An Archaeological Guide, Faber & Faber, London, 1978. 

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

https://ancientmonuments.uk/128978-clegyr-boia-camp-st-davids-and-the-cathedral-close#.XT4mhlLsZjo

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=5988

https://getoutside.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/local/clegyr-boia-pembrokeshire-sir-benfro

https://coflein.gov.uk/en/site/305389/details/clegyr-boia

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2019.


Greenberfield Lane Cup-Marked Stones, near Barnoldswick, Lancashire

Cup-marked stone on Greenberfield Lane. Red arrow marks the spot.

Cup-marked stone beside Greenberfield Lane, Barnoldswick.

NGR: SD 8852 4806. A “new find” and “an unrecorded carving” in the wall at the side of Greenberfield Lane, near Barnoldswick, Lancashire. It is a tiny cup-mark, but it is very easily missed; and there is another “possible” cup-marked stone in the wall further along the lane on the opposite side. There is a carpark at Green-berfield Locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. So where did these carved stones come from? The tiny cup-marked stone is located just past Greenberfield farm (with the large glacial erratic boulder by the side of the entrance) and the nice farmhouse (with a smaller boulder in front of it). There doesn’t appear to be a ring carving around this tiny cup-mark but, if there is it’s very, very faint, though the more I look at the photo the more I think there might be!

Glacial boulder beside the entrance to Greenberfield farm.

“Possible” cup-marked stone beside Greenberfield Lane,

The second stone is located a little to the southwest at (NGR: SD 8847 4802) and is on the top of the wall further along on the op-posite side of the lane. This is a smooth round-shaped stone with   a well-pronounced circular hole, but whether it is a cup-mark carving is uncertain. It could be a hole left by a fossil that has dropped out, or it could be some Geological feature? At certain angles though it does look like a prehistoric cup-mark. Whatever it is, it is a very interesting stone. There are other round-shaped stones along the top of the wall. The large glacial erratic boulder (mentioned earlier, above) is between 4 and 5 foot high, and was dug out of the boulder-clay (10 foot deep) by a 13 ton digger when the new farm building (where the cows are milked) was under construction, and had not seen the light of day since the last Ice Age. The smaller boulder (in front of the farmhouse) was probably dug out of the ground around the same time. Greenberfield lies within ‘the Craven lowland drumlin field’, according to Nick Livsey.

Thanks to Nick Livsey for the above information.

https://www.visitlancashire.com/things-to-do/greenberfield-picnic-site-p561340

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2019.

 

                      


Roman Altar-Stone in All Saints Church, Wigan, Lancashire

Roman-Altar Stone in All Saints Church, Wigan, Lancashire.

NGR: SD 58168 05667. All Saints parish church on Bishopgate, Wigan, Lancashire, houses part    of a Roman altar-stone that is said to have come from the Roman station of COCCIUM (COCCIO) – Wigan, which was probably built in 70 AD, and was located on the hill where the parish church now stands. There is no trace of this roman fort or camp today – the parish church of All Saints taking its place. The altar-stone, which has curved, scroll-like features at each end, has a 17th century inscription on its visible side whereas a Latin inscription on the opposite side is ‘not visible’. It was probably dedicated to the Roman god Mithras. A “presumed” Roman road runs west from MAMVCIVM (Manchester), converging in the centre of the town and then running northwest to Walton-le-Dale, while another Roman road runs south from Wigan towards Warrington, Wilderspool and on to Northwich (CONDATE). A Roman bath-house has recently been excavated where the Shopping Arcade now stands in the town centre. All Saints church, a mid 19th Century building, is easy to find at the southeast corner of Bishopgate, just off Market Street, in Wallgate, and opposite the War Memorial. 

The Church guide book says of the Roman altar, that: “Of special interest under the Tower are the window in the west wall which, though much restored, dates from the 13th century, and part of a pagan Roman Altar which is built into the splay of the east side of the modern window in the north wall. It was found in the rebuilding of 1845-1850 buried beneath the High Altar and was placed in its present position then. It is unfortunately only partly visible, so that it is impossible to tell whether it has a Roman inscription on the hidden side. On the exposed face is a half obliterated modern inscription, dated 1604. It was probably used in the Roman station of Coccium, which can almost certainly be identified with modern Wigan, and which probably stood on the hill now occupied by the parish church.” 

D. C. A. Shotter (1973) tells about the Roman site of Coccium, saying: “The next site northwards in probably Wigan, although no structural remains of Roman occupation have been found there. The chief evidence for the existence of a Roman site under the present town comes from Route 10 of the Antonine Itinerary, which gives distances on a route from Ravenglass (Cumberland) to Whitchurch (Shropshire). The middle section of this route is given as GALACUM (probably Burrow in Lonsdale). BREMETENNACUM (certainly Ribchester), COCCIUM and MAMUCIUM (almost certainly Manchester). The distances given are too great to refer to any settlement between Ribchester and Manchester on the direct route, but they will fit a route that runs from Ribchester to the Coastal road at its junction in Ribblesdale, then south to Wigan, and thence to Manchester on the road attested by the 19th Century observers. Thus Wigan would provide an identification for the elusive site of COCCIUM, and in Roman times it will have been entered from the South, the East and the North respectively by Wallgate, Millgate and Standishgate.

“Further evidence comes from the finds made in and around Wigan. To judge from cinerary urns recovered from the area of the gas works, a cemetery appears to have lain on the South side; the Church has a Roman altar built into it; further, various coins have been found in the area, including a hoard of some 200 coins recovered in Standish in the late 17th Century; this hoard contained coins from the late 1st to the mid-3rd Century A.D. Another important find, this time from Dalton (five miles north-west of Wigan) is the headless statue of Cautopates………, one of the attendants of the god, Mithras.” 

Joseph P. Pearce (2005) says that: “Here, on the rising land within a loop of the river Douglas, the Roman Conquerors of Britain have founded their camp and castlefield. The Roman road leading from Warrington to Preston and Walton-le-Dale, passed through the very centre of the town of Wigan, bearing the traffic of the Legions and the Guilds and Trades of old. Four streets radiate from the Market Place—Standishgate, Wallgate, Millgate, and Hallgate; all bearing a Roman stamp. A stone from a Roman altar has been found, embedded within the walls of Wigan Church. Here the Romans ruled until that day when Rome, herself, was beset by barbarian hordes. Then the Roman soldiers were withdrawn from Britain and the ancient British race was left to the cruel mercy of the Norsemen.”

All Saints Church, Wallgate, Wigan, Lancashire.

Besides the Roman stone there are other interesting features in All Saints. In the Crawford Chapel   is a tomb with recumbent and battered effigies of Lady Mabel de Bradshaw of Haigh Hall and her husband William, a now rather forlorn and somber monument that has stood here since the 14th century. Lady Mabel is the heroine of the famous Wigan Cross or Mab’s Cross in Standishgate, which dates back to 1338 when it was set up by Mabel, a saintly and charitable lady…… who endowed her chapel with property in Haigh and Wigan to enable a priest to celebrate divine service at the Altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Wigan Church, remembering especially the souls of herself after death, King Edward II, her husband, Sir William, her parents and all her ancestors, Roger, then Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, and all the faithful departed, says the Church guide book. The very ornate font in the south aisle is 14th-15th Century and its large gritstone bowl can be seen close-by. It has a band of quarter foils run-ning around its outer surface; apparently this was in use as a water butt in the gardens of the hall before being being restored   to the church.

And finally, there was at one time in the past a school of thought indicating perhaps that the Roman station of Coccium was located on Castle Hill, 3 miles east of Wigan, at Hindley, in Lancashire (NGR: SD 62460485). However, this thought, account, or suggestion now seems to have been ‘completely discounted’, and is not the case with Coccium, which is nowadays considered to have been where the parish church of All Saints is now to be found in Wigan town centre. There was, however, a Medieval structure on Castle Hill, at Hindley, which was probably a timber castle.

The Historic England List Entry No. is:- 1384556.

Sources / References and related websites:-

Church guide book, The Parish Church of All Saints, Wigan — A Short History and Guide, 2003. The two images (above) are from this guide.

Pearce, Joseph P., Lancashire Legends, Book Clearence Centre, Wigan, 2005. (Originally published by The Ormskirk Advertiser, 1928. This edition is re-published with the kind permission of the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo Group).

Shotter, D. C. A., Romans in Lancashire, Dalesman Publishing Company Ltd, Clapham, Yorkshire, 1973. 

https://thejournalofantiquities.com/2014/11/07/mabs-cross-standishgate-wigan-lancashire/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Saints%27_Church,_Wigan

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1384556

https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/lancs/vol4/pp57-68

http://www.wiganarchsoc.co.uk/content/Projects/Millgate/wbe1.html

Roman Roads

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2019.


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St Peter’s Churchyard Cross, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

Cross in the churchyard of St Peter’s Minster, Stoke-on-Trent. Front.

Saxon Cross, Stoke-on- Trent.

NGR: SJ 87931 45213. In the grassy graveyard of St Peter’s Minster on Glebe Street, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, are the remains of a Mercian cross-shaft on a stepped base, dating from the 10th century AD, although some historians think it might date from the 8th-9th century? The actual name and dedication of the Minster church is St Peter’s Ad Vincular (St Peter in Chains). There is visible decoration on the shaft of this preaching cross although it is now rather worn and weather-beaten, and there are cracks from previous damage. It is a Saxon cross, that is a certainty, the area itself being part of the Old Saxon Kingdom of Mercia; and the first church here (and indeed the cross) were of wood. This 7th Century church was probably associated with St Chad, bishop of Lichfield. The building that is now the minster was built in the 19th Century. The site can be reached from the centre of Stoke. Head west onto Glebe Street and a few hundred yards south of the town hall is St Peter’s Minster and its large graveyard; the cross stands on a stepped base behind modern iron railings.

Mercian cross-shaft in St Peter’s churchyard, Stoke. Front face.

The cross-shaft, without its cross-head if it ever had one, stands 4 feet high (1.3m) in a socketed stone upon a base of two chunky steps, which are probably of a 19th Century date, though the cross itself is probably 10th Century or a few hundred years before that. The monument is set within a paved surround. It is said to stand on, or near, the site of a wooden cross from which St Chad is said to have preached in the 7th Century. Sadly the shaft is quite worn with the carvings on one side being difficult to make out, but the front face has long vine scrolls and interlacing and, on the sides there looks to be some key-patterning, while the reverse side has a lot of knotwork and interlacing and, a series of holes that might have been done in recent times? The break across the middle of the shaft can clearly be seen but this does not detract from its great antiquity; the monument being carefully restored. At the base an inscription reads: ‘This fragment of a pre-Norman cross identified by Chas Lynam F.S.A. was re-erected near to its original position in the 25th year of the reign of H.M. King George V by P.W.L. Adams F.S.A.’ The cross-shaft is a Grade II listed monument.

There is a story or tale coming from St Peter’s Church that says the cross-shaft was discovered in 1876 by a gravedigger who spotted it being used as a door lintel inside the old church, which was being demolished to make way for a newer church building. During its recovery the shaft broke in two so it was placed in storage, but in 1935 it was formally identified by Mr Charles Lynam who had it restored and re-erected in the churchyard.

Doug Pickford (1994) tells us more about the site, saying: “At Stoke itself, meaning a fortified stockade, and the collective name so often (wrongly) given to this area there is the Church of St Peter and nearby is the base and trunk of an ancient preaching cross. Was this cross, I wonder, a stone monolith before it was used for preaching. Perhaps in earlier times it was used for praying to, not preaching from. Stoke was most probably a fortified place holding out from the old Britons who took refuge in the high Staffordshire moorlands.”

The very large Minster churchyard also has some re-erected stone arches from an earlier church; and amongst the many in-teresting graves there is the one of Josiah Wedgwood of Burslem and Etruria (1730-1795) the famous master potter; another of Josiah Spode of Stoke-on-Trent (1733-1797) who was also a famous pottery manufacturer, and the grave of Charles Bourne (1775-1836) the pottery manufacturer of Fenton. There is also a commemorative ceramic (mosaic) seat in the churchyard, which was installed in 2000.

Mercian cross at Stoke- on-Trent (reverse side).

The earliest origins of Stoke-upon-Trent go back to at least 800 AD, but probably further back to the 7th Century. It would seem the Saxon name was Stoiche or Stoche – a stockade, but there was no mention of the Church of Stoke in Domesday, though there was a brief mention of it in ‘The description of Caverswall’. The name and its probable meaning have been considered to be: ‘the place of the church’, ‘place by or next to a church’, or ‘settlement beside a church’; the latter name being the most likely. In St Peter’s Minster can be seen a baptismal font that was in use as a garden ornament. It is thought to be of Saxon origins. In 1932 it was restored and put back into use in the church. Also in St Peter’s there are a number of monuments and marble memorial tablets to the ‘great-and-the-good’ of Stoke-on-Trent’s pottery manufacturing history, which brought about, and shaped the Industrial Revolution in the Potteries of North Staffordshire.

Adrian Room (1993) adds more, saying: “This well-known city has a basic name derived from the Old English stoc (place), as considered for STOKE-BY- NAYLAND. It is more likely that the meaning here is ‘dependent settlement’, as there is no evi-dence for the latter sense. The addition of the river name distinguishes this Stoke from the hundreds of others. The name of this city, perhaps the best known example, was recorded as Stoche in the Domesday Book.” 

The PastScape monument no is: 75813.

Sources & References:-

Pickford, Doug, Staffordshire — Its Magic & Mystery, Sigma Leisure, Wilmslow, Cheshire, 1994.

Room, Adrian, Dictionary Of Place-Names In The British Isles, Blitz Editions (Bookmart Limited), Enderby, Leicester, 1993.

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

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/st-peters-cross/

https://historicengland.org.uk/services-skills/education/educational-images/cross-fragment-in-st-peters-churchyard-6467

https://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=75813

http://www.thepotteries.org/listed/124a.html

History & Heritage

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2019.