The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland


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Churchyard Cross, St Nicholas’ Church, Grosmont, Monmouthshire, Wales

St Nicholas’ church cross.

OS Grid Reference: SO 40475 24302. In St Nicholas’ churchyard (north-side near the door) at Grosmont in Monmouthshire, Wales, there was a medieval preaching cross which had crudely carved depictions of Christ crucified and Mary the Virgin with baby Jesus. It was locally called Jack o’ Kent’s Cross. There was, and still is, some uncertainty about the age of the cross, but the carved section atop the shaft was thought to date from between the 11th to 13th century, whereas the shaft and eight-sided base are more recent, maybe 14 or 15th century? Due to ‘the recent safety concerns’ the carved fragment of the cross-head has had to be placed in the church, leaving the shaft and base out in the churchyard. Apparently the shaft was originally much taller. There may have been an earlier cross-head on top of the cross shaft. The 13th century parish church of St Nicholas at Grosmont looks rather like a small cathedral with its tall 14th century octagonal spire, which is a landmark for many miles around. It is to be found at the southwest side of the village, be-side the B4347 road, a couple of miles south of Kentchurch and about 6 miles to the northeast of Llanfihangel Crucorney.

Carved cross head at St Nicholas’ church, Grosmont.

Today, however, the churchyard cross looks rather forlorn with its chopped down shaft, but it still stands here on its octagonal base – alas though without the carved cross-head. But ‘this’ carved section is safe and secure in the south transept of St Nicholas’ church after it was stolen some years back. We don’t know with any certainty the age of the carved cross-head or where it came from: the thinking being that it is was perhaps carved between the 11th and 13th centuries, whereas the shaft and base are from the 14th or 15th century? with some damage caused to the shaft in the 16th. Could the carved section have come from a castle, an abbey, or some other church; that we don’t know, or do we* The carved section, now in the church, shows Christ crucified on one side and Mary and baby Jesus on the other with what could be the outline of a bovine animal lower down; the carving of Mary and Jesus seems to be ‘a crude affair’ compared to that on the opposite face suggesting, perhaps, that it was carved at a different date? It was probably a preaching or wayside cross. Locally, it is sometimes called ‘Jack o’ Kent’s Cross – after the giant and magician who lived at Kentchurch Court. He was not, however, buried beneath the cross. In fact, Jack’s body was buried only just outside Grosmont church!

*Chris Barber (1992) alludes to the following bit of interesting information regarding a carved stone found at Llanfihangel Crucorney, 6 miles southwest of Grosmont. He tells that: “When the church was being rebuilt in 1834, with money raised by public subscription, an ancient stone was revealed. On one side is a representation of the Virgin Mary with baby in her arms and on the reverse side is Christ on the cross between two thieves.” 

Cross Ash School children (1985) tell us in their delightful booklet about the local giant, saying that: “Under the wall of the South Transept, according to legend, lies the body of the giant, Jack of Kent, buried half inside the church and half outside the church, where his tombstone can still be seen.” The school children also mention that: “the font probably dates back to 1150. It is one hundred years older than the church itself. This could mean that at one time there was another church on the site. There is a pattern of a rope on the font, which was common in 1150.”

Donald Gregory (1991) says of St Nicholas’ church that: “This non-Celtic dedication probably indicates that this was the first church to be built on that site. Certainly most of what is still visible in the church and churchyard dates from the same time as the stone castle. Gregory adds that: “Near the entrance gate in the northern consecrated part of the churchyard is an early medieval preaching cross, part of whose shaft remains, firmly secured and — unusually — into an octagonal base; it may be noted, though no known inference may be derived from the observation, that the stout tower of the church is likewise octagonal. The shaft was lopped in the sixteenth century, but curiously enough the carved capstone, which was later placed upon it, is definitely of medieval origin, although where it came from no-one knows.” 

Chris Barber (1984) tells us more about the church. He says: “Go into the church and you will immediately feel an atmosphere of antiquity, peace and mustiness. The floor of the now disused nave is well illustrated with engraved stones and there are many interesting tablets to read on the walls. In a corner of the nave can be seen a wooden chest known as the ‘”Grosmont Hutch”‘ and a half finished effigy of a knight, which is reputed to be that of Jack o’ Kent who once resided in this corner of Gwent. Numerous stories are told about his deeds and adventures. Some claimed that he was Owain Glyndwr in disguise.; others accused him of being a wizard in league with the devil. A legend tells that Jack made a pact with Satan that he should have his soul when he died, whether he was buried inside the church or outside. However, Jack cunningly fooled the devil by arranging for his burial to take place under the very walls of the church at Grosmont, so that he was neither inside nor outside. An old tombstone in the churchyard close to the east wall is said to cover his remains and it is claimed that he died at the age of 120 years. A proverb once used in this neighbourhood would describe someone “‘as clever as the devil or Jack of Kent”‘.

Sources and related websites:-

Barber, Chris, The Seven Hills Of Abergavenny, Blorenge Books, Abergavenny, Gwent, 1992.

Barber, Chris, Exploring Gwent — A Walker’s Guide To Gwent Land Of History And Legend, Regional Publications (Bristol) Limited, Clifton, Bristol, 1984.

Cross Ash School, Churches And Castles — Within the Grosmont Skenfrith and White Castle Trilateral, 1985.

Gregory, Donald, Country Churchyards In Wales, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Capel Garmon, Llanrwst, Gwynedd, Wales, 1991.

The Church In Wales, Great Churches in the Diocese of Monmouth — a Visitors Guide (Transl. by Sian Edwards), June 2005.

St Nicholas Church

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_St_Nicholas,_Grosmont

http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/221965/details/st-nicholas-church-grosmont

https://www.britainexpress.com/attractions.htm?attraction=571

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_o%27_Kent

https://www.spookyisles.com/2014/07/jack-okent-the-welsh-doctor-faustus/

© 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.

 


Donaghmore High Cross, Co. Down, Northern Ireland

The Donagh-more High Cross.

Irish Grid Reference: J 10443 34964. In an isolated and lonely spot beside Donaghmore Road, just east of the A1 (Dublin to Belfast Road), is the Early Christian Ecclesiastical site of Donaghmore (Domnach Mor) Moy Cova, and a churchyard beside the 19th century St Patrick’s Church, which belongs to the Church of Ireland. But here also stands the highly sculptured 10th century Donaghmore High Cross with its distinctive ringed cross-head. The place-name Donaghmore means ‘The Great Church’. Here in the 5th century AD St Patrick is thought to have established a church. This quite isolated little churchyard is located some 5 miles north of Newry and 6 miles south of Banbridge in Co. Down, Northern Ireland. To reach the site head north out of Newry for 5 miles on several country roads: Downshire, Belfast, Corcreechy and Aughnacavan, but keeping to the east of the A1 (Belfast road). On reaching a junction of four roads go right onto Donaghmore Road – where on your right you will soon see St Patrick’s Church and the Donaghmore Cross.

The Donaghmore High Cross or St Mac Erc’s Cross is a highly sculptured granite ring-head cross which is 10 feet high and is thought to date from the 9th or 10th century AD. It has a thick sturdy shaft and stands on a base of two steps. The ring-head probably came from another similar cross. It was re-erected at the S. side of St Patrick’s Church in 1891, but probably not in its original position. Depicted on the cross are several Biblical characters and scenes, and also panels with figures and decorative interlacing. Biblical characters and scenes on (W. Face) are: Noah’s Ark, Adam & Eve and Moses & David. The cross-head (W. Face) shows Christ’s crucifixion. He has long outstretched arms. At each side of Christ there are figures maybe of Stephaton and Longinus, two thieves and soldiers. An angel around Christ’s head. The (N. Face) depicts David & Goliath and interlacing. An angel on the cross-head. The (E. Face) has David or The Judgment of Solomon (David plays his lyre for Saul). Also figures, Moses smites water from the rock, David with the head of Goliath, David slaying the lion, The Last Judgment and St Paul with a bird or beast. S. Face has David and Solomon holding a child or other up-side down and St Paul or maybe St Anthony in the Desert.

St Patrick’s (Church of Ireland) church at Donaghmore is a 19th century building that replaced earlier Medieval churches and, before those, a church that was founded by St Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, in the 5th century. St Mac Erc, who was the brother of St Mochaoi (Mochua) and a disciple of St Patrick, probably became the first bishop of Donaghmore. His feast day is celebrated on 6th July. St Mochaoi founded the monastery of Nendrum on Mahee Island, Co. Down. He died in c497. Legend says that St Patrick converted the local chieftain to Christianity here at Donaghmore, and in thanks ‘he’ built his church beside the fort (rath) from where the chieftain ruled his people. There is a blocked-up souterrain (underground passage) in the churchyard; this may have originally been connected to the fort. The church itself stands on the mound which was part of the fort. There are also some faint earthworks in a field on the opposite side of the road over to the west of the churchyard at (J 1012 3496).

Sources and related websites:

Connolly, Greenwood, Hawkins & Wallis, Ireland – The Rough Guide, Rough Guides Ltd., London, 1999.

Fisher, Graham & Pennington, John, Historic Britain, Odhams Books, Feltham, Middlesex, 1953.

http://irishhighcrosses.com/down-crosses.html

http://irishantiquities.bravehost.com/down/donaghmoreHC/donaghmoreHC.html

http://lisburn.com/books/dromore-diocese/parish-donaghmore.html

http://archive.org/stream/ancientirishpari00cowarich/ancientirishpari00cowarich_djvu.txt

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donaghmore,_County_Down

© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2018.


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Moone High Cross, Co. Kildare, Southern Ireland

Moone High Cross (East Face)

Irish Grid Reference: S 78911 92693. About ½ a mile northwest of Moone village, on Belan Avenue, Co. Kildare, Southern Ireland, is a 5th century monastic site with the lavishly sculptured ‘Moone High Cross’, a 9th century richly carved granite monument with numerous scenes depicted from the Bible. It is said to be the second tallest high cross in Ireland. There is a second cross but this only survives in parts. Also here are the ruins of a 13th century abbey church (which now houses the cross). A monastery or abbey was probably founded here after 431 by St Palladius (d c460), and in the 6th century this was named after St Columba. The ruined church stands over the foundations of ‘this’ early Celtic monastery. The little village of Moon, in the Valley of the river Barrow, is 3 miles south of Ballitore and ½ a mile south of Timolin, close to the R558 road. At the post office in Moone take the road opposite going northwest crossing over the R448, then shortly after go onto Belan Avenue, crossing over the river Greese, and then follow the lane until you reach the farm and old mill: the high cross is on the opposite side of these buildings at the west side.

The high cross, also called St Columba’s Cross, stands inside the ruined 13th century abbey church which now has a glass roof over it. It is a 5.3 metre (over 17 foot) high granite cross of three sections with a long slender shaft that tapers away. The wheel-head, which might be of a later date, shows Christ crucified but this has suffered some damage. There are 51 sculptured panels on all four sides, each having richly carved decoration depicting numerous scenes and characters from the Bible, and also Celtic symbolism including animals, mythical and magical creatures and other figures, but also other decorative work. The cross is thought to date from the 8th or 9th century AD. In 1835 and 1893 sections of the cross were excavated from the church-yard and then re-erected, and more recently placed for protection against the elements in the ruined medieval church.

West Face

The S. face shows The Temptation of St Anthony while below that four mythical serpents (snakes) are fighting with two open-mouthed lions or horses. Above those: SS Anthony and Peter and a raven bringing food. The N. face shows: The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, The Flight into Egypt, SS Paul & Anthony in the Desert and The Three Children in the Fiery Furnace. The E. face has a large panel at its base showing the twelve Apostles, each having a square-shaped body, stubby legs and feet and pear-shaped heads; they all appear to have a slightly different facial expression! Above that: Christ being crucified (he has long outstretched arms), angels, a lozenge shape (diamond) and a whirligig (an object seen to be whirling or spinning around). The W. face shows: Daniel in the Lions’ Den (he is surrounded by seven hungry, open-mouthed lions), The Sacrifice of Isaac, Adam and Eve (with apple trees); also monsters interlinked with heads, and Christ and a Dolphin (above). 

There is also part of a holed cross in the church. This only has a short section of its shaft left and three sections of its wheel-head remaining; but the carvings on this cross are very similar and equally as good as those on the high cross. The carvings on this cross are: mythical and magical creatures, spirals, swirls, intertwining foliage, knotwork and interlacing. Although the 13th century church is ruined it still possesses ‘antae’ (projecting walls) at its gable ends, according to Nicholson’s Guide (1983).

Katharine Scherman (1981) says of the Moone High Cross that it is: “The most attractive of the Barrow crosses is the one at Moone, which, though the representations are no less naïve than those at Castledermot and other Barrow localities, has an entirely original and ingratiating charm. The cross is unusual in its shape, its tall slenderness accentuated by a long, tapered base. On the shaft are panels containing graceful, active and nearly recognizable quadrupeds. The Bible tales, scenes of spirited imagery, are on the four sides of the base. They include Adam and Eve—two small fat people framed by arches of apples; Daniel in the Lion’s Den—a figure in a square garment, like a paper doll, in a frame of seven openmouthed lions, four down one side from his ear to the hem of his dress, three down the other; the Twelve Apostles—twelve identical square men with pear-shaped heads and circle eyes, looking like three rows of cookies; the Miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes—five loaves, two fishes and two eels all by themselves in a pure and simple design.

“Homage is paid to those early anchorites St. Anthony and St. Paul, patrons of the monastic life. One panel shows their meeting in the desert: seated facing each other on straight-backed chairs, they break bread together. Another depicts St. Anthony—the rectangular saint beset by two rectangular visions , one with the head of an animal, the other of a bird. The panel below these two religious ones has an unscriptural scene of animals with the heads of horses and the bodies of serpents locked in an inextricable coil of combat; unlike the squared representations of humans, the artist carved his animals in sinuous curves. All the scenes are executed with a kind of childlike artfulness so that they fit exactly into their frames: the animals arch into the corners; the humans have round heads (the males’ are elongated by their short oval beards into teardrop shapes) and rectilinear torsos to fill the squares, and all their feet are turned side-ways, like those on Egyptian friezes. 

Scherman adds that: “In fact the art is clearly reminiscent of that of ancient Egypt: the artist was concerned with depicting what he saw intellectually with his mind’s eye rather than in reproducing in a naturalistic stylethe shapes seen by the visual eye alone. The stonework lacks the formalized skill of the Egyptians’ art, but it has an individualistic freshness deriving from the sculptor’s unregimented imagination, a luxury never permitted to the intensively trained Pharaonic artists.”

Sources and related websites:-

Nicholson’s Guides, Guide To Ireland, Robert Nicholson Publications Limited, London, 1983.

Reader’s Digest, Illustrated Guide To Ireland, The Reader’s Digest Association Limited, London, 1992. 

Scherman, Katharine, The Flowering of Ireland, Victor Gollancz Ltd., London, 1981.

http://highcrosses.org/moone/

http://www.thejournal.ie/heritage-ireland-coppingers-court-cork-moone-high-cross-kildare-2183701-Jun2015/

http://www.kildare.ie/Heritage/History/religious/crosses/moone-high-cross.htm

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

© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2018.


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Saxon Cross in St Peter’s Minster Church, Leeds, West Yorkshire

The Anglo- Saxon Cross in St Peter’s.

OS Grid Reference: SE 30657 33295. In St Peter’s parish church on Kirkgate in Leeds, west Yorkshire, there is a very tall and slender 10th century Anglo-Saxon wheel-headed cross, which stands on the Altar Flat. This very large city centre church is nowadays called Leeds Minster or ‘The Minster and Parish Church of Saint Peter-at-Leeds’. The cross-shaft fragments were discovered in the late 1830s when the tower was being demolished, but much of the present cross is a Victorian reconstruction of the original one, or as near to that as possible. There are several carved (sculptured) panels on the tall cross-shaft whereas other sections have nothing at all; and though it looks to be somewhat “cobbled-together’, it is a fairly credible-looking piece of construction. The church “here” was first mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086) which stated that Leeds had a church, a priest and a mill; at this time the ruling overlord of Leeds was Ilbert de Lacy and the underlord, Ralph Paganel (Paynel). There may have been an earlier religious building on this site as far back as the early 7th century AD.

Joseph Sprittles writing in the parish guide book says of the Anglian Cross in St Peter’s that it is: “composed of sculptured stones found in the tower fabric of the old church when it was taken down. These were claimed by the architect who on retiring to Rottingdean caused the stones to be erected in his garden. After the death of Chantrell in 1876 the Vicar of Leeds, Dr John Gott, on learning the house was to be sold sought the purchaser and made him an offer for the Cross and, after much bargaining bought the ancient stones for £25 and  had them conveyed to Leeds where, four years later the cross was re-erected on the Altar Flat. The date of the Cross is thought to be c.925 A.D.” 

The restored cross shows Anglian and Scandinavian workmanship. It seems to be a platform for the Norse Legend of Weland the Smith, who features extensively on the monument. Weland or Weyland is depicted in a panel at the bottom of the cross in his flying machine with his tools of the trade. There are 10 carved sandstone panels but also some empty ones. Also, there is the usual interlacing, scrolls and end-knots, and a number of human figures both male and female as well as birds of prey. We see a cloaked figure holding a sword, a figure with a halo, a female figure held aloft by another figure, a female figure holding a horn, two hands grabbing hair; also Weland abducting the daughter of King Nidlad and Weland with a bird of prey. The wheel-head is considered not to be as old as the rest of the shaft and apparently comes from a different cross altogether. More information on this cross can be found on the Howard Williams (Archeodeath) website (see the link below).

Saxon Cross.

Author Frank Bottomley (1993) says regarding St Peter’s that it is a: “Medieval parish church replaced in 1841 with a significant building marking Anglian revival. Preserves spectacular A/S cross, fourteenth-century effigy, two fifteenth-century brasses and a large number of later monuments. Fifteenth-century font with seventeenth-century cover. ‘Brought in’ medieval glass (east window) and much of nineteenth-century.” Jones & Tricker (1992) add that Leeds is a: “A vast and overpowering town, but a great oasis for churches. The parish church of St Peter is unique because of its cathedral-type musical tradition – and what a place it is, rebuilt in 1841 for its famous vicar , W.F. Hook, to the designs of R.D. Chantrell. The exterior is massive, with a stately (144 ft ) tower. The interior is mighty and dignified, built to accom-modate 2,000 and full of seating and comm0dious galleries, but with the clear early Tractarian feel that it is not just a preaching house.”

Sources and related websites:-

Bottomley, Frank, Yorkshire Churches, Alan Sutton Publishing Limited, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 1993.

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

Sprittles, Joseph, Leeds Parish Church – History and Guide, Tower Publications, St. Marks, Cheltenham, Glos.,

The AA, The Illustrated Road Book Of England & Wales, The Automobile Association, London, 1961.

https://howardwilliamsblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/leeds-cross/

http://www.leodis.net/searchResults.aspx?LOCID=9999&DECADE=0&YEAR=&KEYWORDS=%20Saxon%20Cross&KEYWORDS2=&KEYWORDS3=&ANDOR2=&ANDOR3=&RECSPAGE=5&VIEW=1&CURRPAGE=1

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

https://thejournalofantiquities.com/2015/08/12/weyland-the-smith-an-article-by-david-mcgrory/

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2017.


St Peter’s Church, Prestbury, Cheshire

St Peter’s Church   (R. A. Riseley, 1952).

   OS Grid Reference: SJ 90082 76935. The 13th and 14th century grey sandstone parish church of St Peter at Prestbury, Cheshire, is located at the southwest side of the village, close by the A538 road (the village road), and just opposite The Bridge Hotel. The village is located some 4 miles to the southeast of Wilmslow. The River Bollin flows near the church. There was probably a late Saxon church on this site, or close by, in the 11th century. There is the obvious evidence with regard to that early church in the churchyard where there’s a very well-put-together monument made-up of two large fragments of Saxon crosses, which has some very nice, almost Celtic-like, carvings. Also in the churchyard a 12th century Norman chapel with a carved doorway that has some outstandingly beautiful sculptural work: above the doorway is a tympanum with “Christ in Majesty” and above that seven carved figures that are now sadly defaced.

   The parish church has some medieval features including an Early English three-light lancet window (1220-30) at the north side of the chancel and a 13th century piscina with carved head in the south aisle, while the 13th century font was recut in the 19th century and has carved heads of monks from St Werburgh’s Abbey. In the north aisle is a 14th century figure of St Nicholas. There is a nice oak rood-screen of 1787. The crenellated church tower is of 1480. Also of interest some late medieval carved (incised) coffin slabs. The earliest coffin slab is built onto the north wall of the chancel and has a foliated calvary cross and a Latin inscription to Reginald Legh, Esquire, son of Robert Legh, Knight, foremerly Lord of Adlington. He built the church tower and porch. Reginald died in 1482. Apparently there was a priory hereabouts in the 14th century and, in the century following, there was a monastic hospice (Spittal House), which in more recent times became a farm. After the Norman Conquest the manor and church came into the possession of the Earl of Chester and, by 1153 Hugh Kyvelioc, Earl of Chester, had given the same manor and church to the Abbey of St Werburgh at Chester. Another interesting slab in the north wall of the chancel shows Sir Edward Warren of Poynton, who is represented in full armour; around the border is a Latin inscription: “Here lyeth the body of Edward Warren of Poynton, Knight, which departed from this transitory life the 12th day of October, in the year of our Lord God, 1558. Whose soul God pardon. Amen.”

Saxon Cross in St Peter’s Churchyard by R. A. Riseley.

   The Anglo-Saxon cross in the churchyard is actually two sections of different crosses that have been delicately placed together to form a T-shaped ancient monument; the carvings looking much more Celtic in design than Saxon. This may be due to the close proximity of Prestbury to the Welsh border and, we know that that border was as far east as Chester and Warrington back in the so-called Dark Ages, and so the Celtic influence was stronger. The cross fragments were discovered about 1841 when restoration work on the chancel was taking place; the sandstone fragments were embedded in the masonry. Originally the carved fragments were presumed to date from the 8th century, but today they are considered to be from the 10th or 11th century. It is richly carved all over with interlacing, interlinking and key-pattern designs. At the bottom there is a strange creature with a large, open mouth and several tails and a possible human figure, while there is a second human figure in the centre of the top T-shaped section. All-in-all a very beautiful piece of sculptured stonework, be it Celtic or Anglo-Saxon? Also in the churchyard a Grade II listed sundial dating from 1672.

Norman Chapel at St Peter’s Church, Prestbury, by R. A. Riseley, 1955.

   At the southeast side of the parish church stands the 12th century Norman Chapel. According to the booklet ‘Prestbury and its Ancient Church’ (1952): “The building which stands close to the present Church and which is generally known as the “Norman Chapel”, was probably built on the site of the more ancient Saxon edifice. It has a beautiful Norman doorway, a fine specimen of its kind. Over the doors is a tympanum representing “Christ in Majesty,” a subject which occurs in 21 other Norman tympana in England. Above on the corbel table are seven figures, now much defaced, which are of great interest, being unique in Christendom. Their interpretation seems to be as follows: The central figure represents God the Father holding the law in His left hand typified by an open book, and the Gospel in the right hand as fore-shadowed by the cross; conjointly justice and mercy are portrayed. The figure to the right with the animal (the Norman method of drawing a lamb) seems to stand for Christ, the Lamb of God , seated at the right hand of the Father. The figure to the left, having a resemblance to a bird, typifies the Holy Ghost in form of a dove. Collectively these three figures stand for the Trinity. St Peter with the key is shown in the sixth figure. To this saint the church was dedicated as is its successor at the present day. Figure two represents the monarch who reigned when the oratory was built, and this is almost certainly Richard I, Coeur de Lion, he being the first of the Norman kings to bear the budded scepter surmounted by a plain cross as here shown. The brings the date of the oratory within the year of his coronation, 1190, and that of his death, 1199.

   “The warrior with battle axe, figure one, and priest with staff, figure seven, represent the military and ecclesiastical government of the county palatine. The figures then may be, when taken together, interpreted as follows: “”In the name of the Blessed Trinity, this church, dedicated to St. Peter, was built by the abbot and monks of St Werburgh in the reign of Richard I, when Randle Blundeville was Early of Chester.”” 

   The Parish church of St Peter is a Grade I listed building and the Norman chapel is a Grade II listed building.

Sources & Related Websites:-

Bottomley, Frank, The Church Explorer’s Guide, Kaye & Ward Ltd., London, 1978.

Rogers, Harold, W (forward by the vicar), Prestbury and its Ancient Church, Macclesfield Press Ltd., 1958? (Drawings by R. A. Riseley).

The AA, The Illustrated Road Book Of England & Wales, The Automobile Association, London, 1961.

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/churchyard-cross-prestbury/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Peter%27s_Church,_Prestbury

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1221919

http://www.crsbi.ac.uk/site/1197/

                                                    © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2017.


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Churchyard Calvary Cross, Great Mitton, Lancashire

Medieval Calvary cross at Great Mitton, Lancs.

   OS Grid Reference: SD 71555 38958. In the churchyard of All Hallows parish church at Great Mitton in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire, stands a late Medieval round-headed calvary cross which is beautifully carved with scenes from the crucifixion of Christ. The long tapering shaft and base of this Grade II listed monument are, however, more recent in date, but the sculptured cross-head is ‘still’ a very wonderful sight to behold. It may have originated in one of the local abbeys that were destroyed at the Dissolution. And close by there is another monument: a very delightful late 17th century sundial with a curious inscription running around its shaft. The church of All Hallows can be reached from the B6246 – some 2 miles northwest of Whalley. A short distance after the Aspinall Arms public house and the River Ribble the church is almost on the corner of Church Lane where the entrance to the churchyard is just around the corner, hidden in the trees on the right-hand side.

Churchyard ‘Calvary’ Cross, (West Face).

Churchyard ‘Calvary’ Cross, (East Face).

   This 14th century round-headed sandstone calvary cross is mounted on a long thin octagonal shaft that tapers away near the top and has a squared base bearing an inscription; both the shaft and base date from the mid-1800s. The original shaft has long since gone. It is often referred to as being of the Gothic period. On its W face there are three figures: Christ crucified in the centre with St Mary Magdalen and St John the Evangelist at either side of him, while the E face has a rather eroded figure of Christ on his own and crucified. Below that there is foliage. Both sides of the cross-head have tracery. All in all this is a very beautiful Christian monument and all credit to the mason who carved it. But I do think it should be placed inside the church in order to preserve it from the ravages of the weather.

   It is uncertain from where the cross-head originated but it could have come from either Whalley or Sawley Abbey. It would seem to be in this case, though, that it was actually brought from Cockersand Abbey, Lancashire; and in more recent times it was rescued from the bed of the nearby River Ribble, where it may have been hidden by the monks who from time-to-time resided at Mitton Hall, just opposite the church. Some of the wooden furnishings inside the 13-15th century church of All Hallows did indeed come from Sawley Abbey, near Clitheroe, after the dissolution of that religious house in 1536. Cockersand Abbey in north Lancashire was dissolved in 1539.

   The square base of the calvary cross-shaft has a Victorian inscription recalling the XIII hundredth year of the introduction of Christianity. The cross is now a Grade II listed monument. Also in the churchyard a sundial on a thin shaft, dating from 1683, which has a brass gnomon and plate, and an inscription in large ornate letters and numerals running around the bulbous middle section of the shaft.

Sundial in All Hallows Churchyard.

   The renowned authoress Jessica Lofthouse, writing in 1974, does not mention the churchyard cross but makes mention of Mitton Hall. She says that: “the buttressed gable end of Great Mitton Hall where the priests of Cockersand Abbey lived when they served the church in early days, make a happy composition with green slopes, trees and cattle, and industrious anglers knee-deep in the flowing river.” The highly respected local author, John Dixon, briefly mentions the churchyard cross. He also mentions The Three Fishes Inn at Great Mitton and says that: “Over the doorway……. are mounted a number of stones said to have come from Whalley Abbey.” 

Sources and related website:-

Bottomley, Frank, The Abbey Explorer’s Guide, Kaye & Ward Ltd., London, 1981.

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

Lofthouse, Jessica, Lancashire Countrygoer, Robert Hale And Company, London SW7, 1974, 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Hallows_Church,_Great_Mitton

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=26292

http://www.daelnet.co.uk/features/churches/skptpend/gtmitton.htm

                                                    © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2017.

 

  

 

 

 


Watersheddles Cross, Near Scar Top, Lancashire-Yorkshire Border

Watersheddles Cross, near Scar Top, on the Lancs-Yorks border.

   OS Grid Reference: SD 97121 38282. On the southern flank of Kiln Hill and overlooking the northern end of Watersheddles Reservoir, near Scar Top, is the Medieval boundary stone called Watersheddles Cross or Hanging Stone which, even today, marks the boundary between Lancashire and Yorkshire. The old stone now leans over at a considerable angle but is still recognizable for what its original purpose was; and maybe it was an ancient standing stone from prehistory. It has a rather crude inscription on one side with the name in large letters. It is, though, uncertain why it also has the name ‘Hanging Stone’ and what that means with regard to the stone. The cross can be reached from the little boundary stone on Two Laws Road – just after the reservoir and going towards Scar Top. Follow the wall up the moor on an undefined path to a metal gate, then continue up beside the wall until that stops and veers off in the opposite direction. You will see the Watersheddles Cross more or less in front of you.

Watersheddles Cross (with recent carving)

Watersheddles Cross on Lancs-Yorks boundary

   The Watersheddles Cross or Hanging Stone is a rough-hewn length of stone some 6 feet long that leans at a 45° angle or maybe more and is held in position against another lump of stone, with yet more lumps of stone at its base and surrounding it. It used to stand upright. Maybe long ago in the mists of time there was a wooden cross here, but this rotted away and had to be replaced by a stone one. This rough pillar of stone may have originated from somewhere else on the moor, and perhaps it had been a standing stone from prehistory, though whether it was we don’t know with any certainty. However, the stone was apparently brought to its present location in the 14th century and, sometime after that, probably after 1618, the large lettering on its west side carved onto it. The nice little cross at the top of the stone has obviously been carved more recently, maybe the 19th century, and the top part of the stone cut-away to allow for this. So “why” is it also called ‘Hanging Stone’ – that we don’t know, but there are many other rocks and stones that have this name. There are other boundary stones further up the moor to the north towards Wolf Stones, an outcrop of gritstone rocks which are visible from here.

Sources and related websites:-

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2008/10/10/water-sheddles-cross/

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1009495

http://www.bradfordhistorical.org.uk/boundary.html

http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=46131

                                                   © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2017.


Affetside Cross, Near Bury, Greater Manchester

Affetside Medieval Cross, near Bury, in Greater Manchester.

   OS Grid Reference: SD 75471 13676. At the edge of Affetside village green, near Bury, Greater Manchester, stands an old cross of uncertain date. It is probably Medieval but, because it stands on the old Roman road (Watling Street), some historians have even considered it to be a Roman cross or milestone, or even a Roman column, but that seems unlikely. It is probably a pilgrims cross. Watling Street runs southeast from Affetside towards Manchester, and northwest in the opposite direction towards Ribchester. The village green has some modern standing stones and a large pond. Affetside Cross is best reached from the A 676 (Ramsbottom road) and then southeast for ½ a mile along the almost straight-running lane that is the Roman road, bringing you into the picturesque little village, where you’ll find the old cross beside the green – you can’t really miss it!

Affetside Cross.

   Affetside cross is about 4¼ feet high on its three steps, well actually two steps, as the top step is in effect the base which the gritstone shaft is socketed into, while the two lower circular, tiered steps are well worn with age. The shaft is formed from one complete length of local stone. At the top of the shaft there is a collar with a round or bun-shaped capital which may originally have held a stone cross, or maybe it never did? This is perhaps why the cross-shaft has taken on the appearance of a Roman column! There looks to be some faint carving on the shaft, or is this simply the mason’s tool marks. Thought to be Medieval in date and probably a pilgrims cross that was used ‘as a place to stop and pray for a safe journey’ by those weary but very religious travelers – making their way to Whalley Abbey by way of Bury, Ramsbottom, Helmshore, Holcombe Moor and Accrington – from the late 13th/early 14th century until the Dissolution of that holy place in 1537, when pilgrimages ceased. It would seem though the present monument is a market cross and more recent in age maybe 17th century, being re-erected about 1890, according to Pastscape.

Information Plaque (now very hard to make out).

   The village of Affetside stands on the Roman road Watling Street which runs from here into Manchester (Mamucium) where there was a Roman fort and settlement, while in the opposite direction it runs to the fort at Ribchester (Bremetennacum). Is it possible that the pillar of the Affetside cross was a Roman milestone as the village is actually about halfway between the two forts; maybe it was re-fashioned by Medieval masons into what we see today. Or does the cross mark the site of a beacon – at which time an earlier monument or cross had stood here, apparently. These questions can never really be answered with certainty, we can only guess.

   Authoress Jessica Lofthouse (1964) does not say anything about Affetside cross but she mentions the village and Roman road, saying that: “Driving the civilizing power of Rome through the north-west came Julius Agricola and his road-builders in 79 A.D. Follow the line of the Manchester-Ribchester highway through Affetside and north by Blacksnape and Over Darwen.”

Sources and related websites:-

Lofthouse, Jessica, Lancashire Countrygoer, Robert Hale Limited, London, 1964.

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

http://affetside.org.uk/cross_history.htm

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

http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=44366&sort=4&search=all&criteria=affetside&rational=q&recordsperpage=10

http://www.bury.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=11677

                                                    © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2017.

 

 

 


St Patrick’s Chapel And Rock Graves, Heysham, Lancashire


St Patrick’s Chapel on Chapel Hill, Heysham.

   OS Grid Reference: SD 40980 61628. On the headland above St Peter’s parish church at Heysham, in Lancashire, stand the ancient ruins of St Patrick’s Chapel, a Saxon building dating from either the 8th or 10th century AD. Also upon Chapel Hill, overlooking Heysham Sands, and just opposite the ruined chapel there are two sets of rock-hewn graves that are said to date from the 11th century AD. It is thought to be very unlikely that Ireland’s patron saint ever set foot on Heysham Head, as much as that makes for a very good story, although beneath the ruined chapel’s stonework there are the foundations of an earlier Celtic-style chapel – maybe dating back to the 6th century AD. To reach St Patrick’s Chapel: from Main Street take the rough track that heads west past St Peter’s churchyard entrance, and then slightly up hill for a while, then take the footpath that veers off the rough track for a few metres up to Chapel Hill and the ruined chapel with the curious rock-cut graves close by.

St Patrick’s Chapel, Heysham, from a different angle.

   The chapel measures 27 feet by 6 feet and is built from large, rough-hewn lumps of sandstone, with thinner rubble coursework sections between and at the top, but the curved Saxon doorway is by far the best part of the structure. According to Richard Peace (1997) the sandstone blocks that make up the chapel are: “fused together by molten shells.” However, a large part of the chapel has now gone through robbery of the stonework, or it has been used elsewhere in the vicinity, or maybe just lost to time. But beneath the ruin there are the foundations of an earlier Celtic-style chapel of the 5th or 6th century AD. It had been thought that the little building dated back to c750 AD, but in reality it probably dates from the 10th century AD, which would make it “contemporary with the earliest part of St Peter’s Church”, according to Eileen J. Dent (2003).

   The original Celtic chapel beneath the present ruin was most likely “due to the efforts of monks from Ireland, acting as missionaries to St Patrick”, says Eileen J. Dent. It’s almost certain that St Patrick of Ireland never set foot in Heysham, although traditionally he was shipwrecked off the Lancashire coast in the 5th century AD. More likely his followers came here. There are, however, a few holy wells named for him in the area. Nikolaus Pevsner (1979) says of the chapel that it is: “A plain rectangle, 27½ by 9 ft. The S doorway has an arch made of one with concentric grooves. Dating varies between the c8 and c9.”                                                                                              

   Author Eileen J. Dent says that: “In 1977-8 archaeologists found decorated plaster among the foundations of the earlier building. From discoveries, it would seem that the chapel was used only for worship and burial, and never used as a place of habitation. For example it could not have been a hermitage. There is no registration of the chapel as a chantry.

   “The chapel and the ground to the south were used as burial places. Some skeletons were found within the chapel and many more in the ground outside. The soil level is very shallow, and although the skeletons were in layers, none was buried deep.

   “G. Grainger, in an as yet unpublished paper [1977-8], says that the skeletons were generally in a poor condition, but there was probably a total of between 78 and 84 individuals, of various ages, and of both sexes. His tests showed that about one fifth of the population died before the age of 10 and that none survived beyond the age of about 45. After examination the bones were re-interred in the present churchyard.”

Rock-cut graves at Heysham, Lancashire

   Opposite St Patrick’s Chapel are six rock-hewn graves that are carved out of a large flat sandstone rock. Two of these are straight-sided and four body-shaped, each having a hole at the top, which might have been for a wooden cross. Close by there are another set of two graves but these look to be of a later, Medieval date, maybe from the 13th century? The set of six graves are thought to date from the 9th-11th centuries AD, but more likely to be of the latter century, which would make them Viking in origin. The question must be then, were the priests that served St Patrick’s chapel buried in these graves? That we don’t know but I would think they probably were. Today the rock graves are often filled with rainwater. The graves are Grade II listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

   Author Eileen J. Dent says that: “The stone-cut graves were also examined in the 1977-8 dig. These are not unique. There are other rock-cut graves in the Isle of Man, and similar ones in Spain (Aragon). Archaeologists say that ‘a primary date is likely’, that is, contemporary with the first occupation of the site, but little is known about them, except that they were more likely to be reliquaries than containers for whole bodies.”

Illustration of the Hog-back tombstone in St Peter’s, Heysham.

   Below Chapel Hill stands the ancient parish church of St Peter parts of which date back to the Saxon period. Beside the pathway to the church there is the stump of an Anglo Saxon cross-shaft, which might be of the 9th century AD. It stands at just over 2½ feet high and is in the form of a house with windows and a door carved onto it – with faces and figures looking out. There is perhaps an association here with the visit of the three Marys to the sepulcher, or the raising of Lazarus, according to Nigel & Mary Kerr (1982). The upper three windows have faces looking out and a shrouded figure in the doorway below. There is also a round-headed panel (west face) with a saint holding a book, and below that and on the sides are foliage scrolls, say Nigel & Mary Kerr. Housed within the church (south aisle) is a hog-back tombstone of the 10th or 11th century AD. This used to stand out in the graveyard but was brought into the church (1961). It is richly decorated with scenes of stag-hunting from the Norse Legend of Sigurd. There is also zigzag carving, and at either end strange creatures cling to the stone, but whether they are hogs or bears is open to question. Almost certainly it was the gravestone of a wealthy Viking warrior.

Sources and related websites:-

Dent, Eileen, J., Heysham – a History, The Rector & Parochial Church Council of St Peter’s Church, Heysham, & Heysham Heritage Association, 2003.

Fields, Ken, The Mysterious North, Countryside Publications, 1987. 

Kerr, Nigel & Mary, A Guide To Anglo Saxon Sites, Paladin (Granada Publishing Limited), St Albans, Herts, 1982.

Peace, Richard, Lancashire Curiosities, The Dovecote Press Ltd., Stanbridge, Wimborne, Dorset, 1997.

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Patrick%27s_Chapel,_Heysham

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1020535

http://www.sandhak.co.uk/html/history_of_heysham.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Peter%27s_Church,_Heysham

                                                                                © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2017. 

 


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Simon’s Cross, Simonstone, Near Padiham, Lancashire

Simon's Cross near Simonstone, Lancashire.

Simon’s Cross near Simonstone, Lancashire.

    OS grid reference: SD 7760 3609. Upon White Hill and just beside Shady Walks at the north-side of Simonstone, near Padiham, Lanca-shire, is a large boulder with a deep socket hole. This is, in fact, the cross-base of a Medieval wayside cross which was known locally as ‘Simon’s Cross’, ‘Simon’s Stone’ or sometimes ‘Wart Well’. Very little is known about its history and who it was named for, or who actually erected the cross. There are inscriptions carved into the sides of the cross-base. The stone can be reached from the A671 (Whalley Road) in Simonstone, then via School Lane and Trapp Lane for ¾ of a mile, passing Higher Trapp Hotel on the left. Just before the top of the lane where the woodland begins go through the wooden kissing gate – the cross-base is beside the wall. Just opposite the cross-base is the beginning of a long and overgrown woodland trench, and the track running alongside this is known locally as Shady Walks!

Simon's Cross at Simonstone, Lancashire.

Simon’s Cross (from above).

    This large, natural and round-shaped boulder, known as ‘Simon’s Cross’ is roughly 4½ ft wide and just over 2 ft high and is thought to weigh 2-3 tonnes. Its socket hole is 1 ft wide and 10′ deep. But it is not always full of rain-water. When it does contain water it is locally called ‘Wart Well’ as it is said to be a cure for warts, or it used to be? When I visited there was no water in the socket hole. On the side of the boulder the words ‘SIMON’S CROSS’ are carved along with a faint cross symbol and some Latin-type letters: maybe J A M and J W and a date that looks like 1860. The cross-shaft that would have fitted into this boulder having long since disappeared, but where did it go to?

Simon's Cross (side view).

Simon’s Cross (side view).

Simon's Cross (close-up of the 'Wart Well').

Simon’s Cross (close-up of the ‘Wart Well’).

    Simon’s Cross originally marked the parish boundary of Simonstone and Read, and was perhaps set up in the late 13th or early 14th century by Simon de Read, or could it have been Simon de Altham in the 14th century? It could also, perhaps, be named after a member of the Whitaker family of Simonstone? But we may never know. Simonstone takes its name from any of these characters. And maybe the monks of Whalley Abbey had some connection with the cross as it may have stood on land owned by that religious house, but the main landowners between here and Clitheroe were the de Lacys. Maybe this was a wayside cross to which pilgrims on-route to the abbey could congregate at – and say prayers for a safe journey – the cross acting as a sort of waymarker. The stone for the building of Whalley Abbey is ‘said’ to have come from quarries at Read and Simonstone.

    “The deep, overgrown trench alongside the path in Shady Walks was a drift mine for the extraction of fire clay”, according to the 1992 book ‘Walks In Lancashire Witch Country’ by Jack Keighley. This industrial quarry working runs beside the woodland track for about ½ a mile.

Sources and related web-sites:-

Clayton, John A., The Lancashire Witch Conspiracy, Barrowford Press, 2007.

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/lancs/vol6/pp411-416

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/lancs/vol6/pp503-507

http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/lancashire/hi/people_and_places/religion_and_ethics/newsid_8142000/8142400.stm

Keighley, Jack, Walks In Lancashire Witch Country, Cicerone, 1992.


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The Collingham Saxon Crosses, West Yorkshire

    OS grid reference: SE 3900 4609. At the north-east side of Collingham village, west York-shire, stands the ancient parish church of St Oswald, a building dating back to pre-Conquest times. The church houses two Anglo-Saxon cross-shafts and also a few other interesting antiquities: there is an ancient stone coffin lid, a cresset stone, a stone with a consecration cross and some 17th century grave slabs. St Oswald’s parish church is located on Church Lane just to the north of the Leeds to Wetherby road the A58 (Main Street), and the river Wharfe is 100m to the north of the church; the village of Collingham is now regarded as a suburb of Leeds – the city centre being about 2 miles to the south-west.

The Runic Cross.

The Runic Cross.

    The taller and more impressive of the two shafts which stand at the east end of the aisle is called ‘The Runic Cross’ or ‘The Aerswith Cross’, and may date from the late 9th century AD. This is made up of two sections joined together. It is carved with three intertwined dragons, two of which are in opposition to the other. These creatures are of the Viking “Jelling” style of designwork that was flourishing in the 9th-10th century AD. There is also scrollwork, interlacing and knot-work which is more Anglo Saxon in origin. Around the base of this shaft there is a runic inscription which has not yet been deciphered.

    According to the authoress Ella Pontefract in her delightfully beautiful work ‘The Charm Of Yorkshire Churches’, this stone cross….. “has been thought to have been used at the dedication of a monastery built by Queen Eanflaed in the 7th century in memory of Oswini whom her husband had caused to be murdered.” Pontefract goes on to say that “the finding of the runic cross has also been thought to indicate Collingham as the site of the monastery of Ingetlingum, not Gilling, as Bede recorded.”  W.G. Collingwood (1854-1932) the English author and antiquarian, however, does not find the name, Oswini, on the runic inscription, and so he dates the cross as late as the 9th century AD, the Transitional period between Anglian and Danish.

     St Eanflaed or Enfleda (d 704) was the daughter of King Edwin of Northumbria. She was abbess of Whitby. In 651 her husband King Oswiu of Bernicia murdered his own brother, Oswini, and Eanflaed then persuaded her husband to found the monastery of Gilling in reparation for his sins. In 670 after her husband’s death she became abbess of Whitby, north Yorkshire. Glastonbury Abbey ‘claimed’ to have the relics of St Eanflaed (David Farmer, 2004). The first abbot of Gilling, west Yorkshire, was called Trumhere. Some scholars think the monastery of Gilling was in North Yorkshire, near Ripon?

The Apostles Cross.

The Apostles Cross.

    The shorter cross-shaft is called ‘The Apostles Cross’ and, like the Runic Cross, it was dug up from the floor of the church during restoration work between 1840-41. It is said to date from the beginning of the 9th century AD.

     This shorter cross-shaft is made up of two sections joined together, and is so named because it is adorned with representations of eleven Apostles with halos and each in their own round-headed arch. It is quite probably part of a much taller Anglian cross – the top section of which is missing. However, it is conject-ured that two of these ‘Apostolic figures’ could perhaps be representations of Christ, and the Virgin Mary with the Christ-child? There is also cable-pattern moulding design. The date of this cross had been fixed at about 800 AD, although it is generally now considered to date from the 9th-10th century AD. Also housed in the church is a cross-arm and sections of other crosses, which again date from pre-Conquest times.

    There is also a rare cresset stone. The authoress Ella Pontefract says of this stone: “An 8th century cresset is interesting, a flat, round stone with a cup-shaped hollow in the centre in which a light burnt perpetually before the sanctuary, and seven smaller cups round the edge for the days of the week. Their lights were used to relight cottage fires if accidentally extinguished.”

    On the west window-sill there is a Medieval stone coffin lid with sculptured cross. Built into the north vestry wall is part of a consecration cross, while at either sides of the south door there are interesting 17th century grave slabs. The south wall still has traces of Saxon workmanship, and Early English columns supporting the arches of the arcades survive. Author Frank Bottomley gives a bit more detail in his work ‘Yorkshire Churches’. He says that: “Apart from Perp. tower, exterior reflects heavy restoration of 1841 but some of fabric may be A/S. North arcade c. 1200 and aisle Perp.”

Sources:-

Bottomley, Frank, Yorkshire Churches, Alan Sutton Publishing Limited, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 1993.

Farmer, David, Oxford Dictionary Of Saints, Oxford University Press, 2004.

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

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=11513

Pontefract, Ella, The Charm Of Yorkshire Churches, The Yorkshire Weekly Post, Leeds, 1937. [The two illustrations of the cross-shafts in Collingham church are by Marie Hartley, daughter of the authoress Ella Pontefract].


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The Walton Cross, Hartshead, West Yorkshire

    OS grid reference: SE 1761 2379. The Walton Cross stands beside a footpath at the western side of Hartshead village, in Kirklees District, west Yorkshire. But in fact it is now only part of what was originally quite a tall Anglo Saxon preaching cross, dating perhaps from the 9th or 10th century, but the carvings on this ancient cross-base are outstandingly beautiful. It is located 20m along a footpath running off the B6119 (Windy Bank Lane) and opposite Second Avenue. It is at the north-side of Walton Farm. Originally it stood in a field on private land, but a kindly, caring farmer who bought the land decided to build a footpath running directly to the cross. About ¼ of a mile to the south-east is St Peter’s church, an 11th century building but with more recent work, too. There is a holy well (Lady Well) near the church.

    The Walton cross-base stands at 1.5m (5 feet) in height and 1.1m (3 ft 6′) in width. It is a highly sculptured block of gritstone with large, double-edged panels on its sides that have beautiful designs and imagery. It was conjectured to date from between 900-1000 AD. Scholars now date it to the 11th century. According to Ella Pontefract in her masterpiece of work ‘The Charm Of Yorkshire Churches’: the west face has a cross (large rosette knot) within a circle that is supported by two winged figures, while the east face has a tree with two birds on each side, maybe a representation of ‘the Tree of Life’, a Viking image, and the north and south faces have interlacing knotwork – reminiscent perhaps of Celtic workmanship. Long ago this wayside preaching cross (waymarker) would have stood very tall, maybe 15 feet, and how beautiful it must have looked, but sadly the rest of the cross has long since disappeared – though to where it went we do not know. It is also interesting to know that originally the Walton Cross may have been painted in bright colours. The circle with rosette knot is the logo for ‘The West Yorkshire Archaeological Service‘.

    The authoress goes on to say that: W.G. Collingwood the English author and antiquary (1854-1932) suggested that the cross is the “Wagestan” (Wage Stone), which was mentioned in the 12th century foundation charter of Kirkless Priory, near Mirfield, west Yorkshire. The socket hole at the top of the cross-base is often filled with water that is, or was, used to cure warts, and a few coins are sometimes deposited in the water!

Sources:-

Bull, Malcolm, The West Yorkshire Archaeology Service (WYAS), The Calderdale Companion.

http://www.archaeology.wyjs.org.uk/vikingweb/hartshead.htm

Click on this web-blog by Kai Roberts:  https://lowercalderlegends.wordpress.com/tag/hartshead/

http://wyrduk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/hartshead-church-walton-cross-and-robin.html

Pontefract, Ella, The Charm Of Yorkshire Churches, The Yorkshire Weekly Post, Leeds, 1937.


The Burton Stone, Clifton, York

The Burton Stone on Burton Stone Lane, Clifton, York

The Burton Stone on Burton Stone Lane, Clifton, York

    OS grid reference: SE 5960 5271. At the corner of Burton Stone Lane and in front of the Burton Stone Inn at Clifton, York, is the Medieval plague stone known as ‘The Burton Stone’. According to local legend, it was long ago a cross-base for perhaps three Medieval crosses, but in more recent centuries it had become a ‘plague stone’ and its three hollows (sockets) perhaps used as recepticals for vinegar! But whether the stone is in its original position is open to question. The stone now lies in a brick niche behind iron railings at the front of the Burton Stone Inn at the corner of Burton Stone Lane and the A19 Clifton Road, where prior to the pub there was an ancient chapel dedicated to St Mary. Clifton is a suburb of York. The city centre lies about 1 mile to the south down the A19 road.

    The Burton Stone is a large lump of stone that is roundish in shape and at one side is shaped like a cross. It has three basin-like hollows that were originally socket holes for crosses, but over time these have been worn smooth by human hands. What happened to the crosses that stood in the socket holes is not known but they were probably associated with the Medieval chapel that stood on this site, and which was dedicated to St Mary Magdalene. The Burton Stone may have marked a city boundary or a line of jurisdiction.

    The ancient chapel was perhaps a pilgrims’ chapel or a chapel-of-ease as York Minister is only a short walk down the road. But after the chapel’s demise the cross-base was put into use as a ‘plague stone’ and the three holes became recepticals for vinegar. Coins were also placed in the vinegar solution as a way of sterilization and then handed out to families affected by the plague, or cholera epidemics, which struck the city of York from 1604 onwards. Local legend says that Mother Shipton (1488-1561) the Yorkshire prophetess rested beside the Burton Stone in 1512 – at which time she also married Toby Shipton of York.

Sources:-

There is a photo of the stone on this website:  http://www.jorvik.co.uk/burton-stone/

http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/7621/burton_stone.html#miscellaneous

The Automobile Association, The Illustrated Road Book Of England & Wales, London WC2, 1961.


The Swinden Cross, Nelson And Colne Boundary, Lancashire

The Swinden Cross Fragment (illustration).

The Swinden Cross Fragment (illustration).

    OS grid reference: SD 8673 3916. The Swinden Cross or ‘The Greenfield Cross’, was reportedly excavated from a stream at Swinden Clough on the Nelson-Colne boundary, Lancashire, in the late 19th or early 2oth century. This is, in fact, a cross-head fragment that has late Saxon carvings and is very similar in design to the crosses in Whalley churchyard. Those crosses date from the 10th-11th century, and so the Swinden fragment must be of a similar date. However, to confuse things another cross-head (The Swinden Hall Cross) was reportedly dug-up four-feet below the ground from, or near, a stream on the Swinden Estate in 1884 – though this was a Maltese-style cross-head and very different in style, and probably Medieval in date? The carved Swinden Cross fragment was excavated from a watercourse at Swinden Clough close by Swinden Hall when a new sewage works was being built. Swinden Hall, a 17th century building was, very sadly, demolished in the 1960s to make way for this ‘new’ sewage works and, what would later become the Whitewalls Industrial Estate.

    This beautifully carved Swinden Cross fragment is thought to date from the 10th or 11th century and is not too dissimilar to ‘The Alkincoats Cross’ at Colne. It has strap-work interlacing and banding while at its centre is a raised, double-circled boss with a small, thin cross at its centre. However, its arms are missing, but it would originally have had a circular (disc) head, perhaps even a wheel-head, and was no doubt a very splendid monument in its entirety and on its tall shaft, although its not known how tall it would have been, and maybe it never stood on a shaft? But what a sight it must have been.

The Swinden Hall Cross.

The Swinden Hall Cross.

    The other cross-head, known as ‘The Swinden Hall Cross’, is Maltese in style and probably Medieval. This is almost perfect apart from the upper (top) arm being missing. It has a small, raised boss at its centre with an outer circular band around it. Sadly there is little, if any, other carving on the head and if there was it has eroded away. It is however a crudely carved cross-head. No shaft was found during its excavation. Perhaps it never stood on a shaft? It measures 18 inches across and is 6 inches thick. After its excavation by a Mr Turner in 1884 it was taken by Mr James Carr, the Colne solicitor, to Thornton-in-Craven where it was given to the Landless family before being kindly donated to The Colne Heritage Centre, now Pendle Heritage Centre, at Park Hill, Barrowford. It is sometimes put on display in Colne Public Library on Market Street.

    The history of Swinden on the Nelson-Colne boundary is an interesting one. John de Lacy (d 1242) Constable of Chester gave the land (16 acres) to one Adam de Swinden in the early 13th century. Later, John de Marsden (1323) held a field named ‘Swinden’ by charter. John de Banastre (1427) agreed with Christopher Marsden in respect of the Manor of Swinden. The Lister family held Swinden in the late 15th century. Swinden Hall being built sometime after 1655. In 1693 the hall was in the possession of William Hargreaves.

Site of Swinden Hall opposite Pendle Water.

Site of Swinden Hall opposite Colne Water.

    But there must have been an earlier Medieval settlement at Swinden for two substantial crosses to have been located there; maybe there was a settlement and Christian community in the 11th-13th centuries – what would be an Anglo-Norman foundation? Today there is no trace of Swinden Hall with only Swinden Hall Road pointing to its existence. A football pitch used to stand on the site of the hall; today a modern office building stands in its place opposite the Swinden aqueduct which carries the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and, beneath that flows Colne Water.

Sources:

Clayton, John A., The Valley Of The Drawn Sword, Barrowford Press, 2006.

Dixon, John & Mann, Bob., Historic Walks Around The Pendle Way, Aussteiger Publications, Barnoldswick, 1990.

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/lancs/vol6/pp536-541

Also information sourced from the relevant display cases/boards in the Reference Department of Colne Public Library.