The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland

Walton Spire, Nelson, Lancashire

Walton Spire, Lancashire

Walton Spire, Lancashire

SD8941 3732. Standing on a flat plateau of land overlooking the valley between Colne and Nelson where flows Pendle Water and the Calder some 2 miles north-east of Nelson, is the 27 foot-high monument called ‘Walton Spire’, also known as Walton’s Monument and The Nelson Cross. In 1830 an ornate stone spire with a four-armed cross that has inscriptions carved onto it was placed upon a ‘Dark Age’ stone menhir (marker stone) or pillar with a 7 foot circumference by Mr R.T.Wroe Walton of nearby Marsden Hall, Nelson, now called Marsden Park.

The inscription on the arms of the spire recall: REG: CIRINDICA. AD 1835 STR: FEC: R.T. WROE WALTON HA COL AG: SHELL which may be translated as ‘ R.T. Wroe Walton had this monument made in the year of Our Lord 1835 and erected at Shelfield’.

According to legend, the ancient menhir was set up to commemorate the ‘battle of Brunanburh’ which was fought close by in 937 AD. The battle was between King Athelstan of England and a ragtag army of Northumbrians, Scots, Vikings and Welshmen led by Anlaf the chieftain, from the north-east. Sadly, Mr Wroe Walton damaged the menhir by having it carved flat with eight sides and then shaped so that his decorative spire would fit nicely on top of the ancient marker stone (this would not be allowed to happen today!).

The plateau where the spire stands is called Shelfield Hill and is thought by some historians to date back to prehistoric times, perhaps the Iron-Age, but in the 10th century AD the site was chosen so that Saxon warriors could look down upon the valleys at either side and keep a watch for any would-be invaders approaching the area. 200 yards to the northwest stands a curious stone shaped like an anvil. Indeed the stone is locally called ‘The Anvil Stone’, Thor’s Stone or The Druids Altar. Walton Spire stands on an alignment with the Broadfield earthworks, the Anvil Stone and Castercliffe Iron-Age fort and other ancient sites in the Burnley area.