OS grid reference: SD 6189 1301. The Headless Cross, also called the Grimeford Cross, stands near the old village stocks at Anderton in Lancashire, to the east of the M61 motorway, and is ‘said’ to date from the late Anglo-Saxon period – the 11th century. Anderton is a suburb of Adlington. It is located beneath trees on a grassy area at the junction of Grimeford Lane, Rivington Lane and Roscoe Lower Brow, opposite the Millstone public house. Over time it has been used as a sundial and a guidepost for directions to nearby towns – its cross-head having being taken to nearby Rivington church. The remaining shaft is decorated on all its four sides with carvings which are rather strange, if not curious, and most unlike other Saxon wayside crosses of a similar date. It may originally have marked the “true” centre of Grimeford village though this does not now exist According to local legend, there used to be a medieval chapel with an underground tunnel close to where the cross now stands, and also there have been a number of reports of ghostly happenings in this area – locally these ghostly, poltergeist-like characters, being referred to as boggarts!
The pre-Conquest cross was apparently discovered during the construction of the Lower Rivington Reservoir (1852) – the bottom section was brought to its present position, while the top section showing a helmeted Viking figure was sent to the Harris Museum at Preston, and the cross-head displayed in Rivington church, a few miles away. It has taken on the look of a stone bird-table! But it used to have a sun-dial on top of its flat plinth and it has been in use as a guide-post, giving directions to the towns of Blagburn, Boulton, Preston and Wiggin. Today the cross-shaft is around 3 feet high but originally it would have been double that. On the front there is the lower part of a human fugure (two legs) which is presumably the same figure as that on the shaft in Preston museum! On its other three faces there are geometric ‘wavy lines’ in the form of Greek frets (T-frets) within a trellis, and also vinescrolls. The flat stone on top of the shaft is post Medieval and the base-stone is much more recent.
The AA, The Illustrated Road Book Of England & Wales, The Automobile Association, London WC2, 1961.