Swinden Cross, Colne, Lancashire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference – SD 878 409

Archaeology & History

Carved cross design

In the 19th century a fragment of an Anglo-Saxon cross was dug up in the grounds of Alkincoats Hall between Colne and Foulridge — this area was probably once an early Medieval settlement that was taken over by Knights Hospitallers in the 12th and 13th centuries.  However, the carved cross-head was lost for a long period of time but was thought to have come to light again in more recent times when the sewerage works were being built at Swinden on the boundary between Colne and Nelson. If the cross had stood at Swinden then it almost certainly marked the boundaries between Colne and Marsden (Merclesden).

This fragment was thought to be almost certainly the same as that found at Alkincoats Hall.  The piece of cross-head would have adorned the top of a late Saxon or early Medieval cross-shaft dating from the 10th-11th century. The carvings of knotwork interlacing on the arms and central boss were thought reminiscent of Anglo-Norse work — similar to the crosses at Whalley and Burnley.

I believe that the cross fragment was housed in St Bartholomew’s parish church at Colne, but I don’t know whether it still resides there. What a shame that the shaft has long gone – because almost certainly it would have looked resplendent.


  1. Byrne, Clifford H., “A Survey of the Ancient Wayside Crosses in North East Lancashire,” unpublished manuscript, 1974.
  2. Taylor, Henry, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, Sherratt & Hughes: Manchester 1906.

© Ray Spencer, 2011

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One thought on “Swinden Cross, Colne, Lancashire”

  1. The above cross-head is now housed in the Reference Department at Colne Library along with another cross-head, this one intact, that may date from the same period as the other. Oddly, this is also referred to as ‘The Swinden Hall cross-head’.

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