The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland

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.


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.

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