Take the Town End Road out of Slaidburn, and turn right along Wood House Lane at the Gold Hill junction, continue past the entrance to Myttons Farm on the right, and the cross base will be seen on the right next to the gateway just before the sharp left hand bend.
Archaeology & History
Only the socketed red sandstone base of this mediaeval wayside cross survives. It is unusual in that it has carved decorative fluted corners. It has an OS bench mark carved on its north face and has suffered recent damage to one of the corners, probably from a grass cutter. It is beside the old salt road over Salter Fell from Bowland into Lancashire and the Lune Valley.
There is one surviving complete cross and a cross base at the other end of the salt road, south of Hornby. Wood House Lane was known as Cross Lane when the 1850 6″ OS map was printed. It is a Grade II listed building and is described in the citation as:
“Base of cross, probably medieval, sandstone. Of irregular shape with a rectangular socket in the top.”
The farmer of the adjoining land told me that a local elder had told him that the smashed remains of the Cross had been built into an adjoining dry stone wall, which, if this is correct, may indicate
destruction of the Cross at a comparatively late date.
Note: the monument is in the historic county of the West Riding of Yorkshire.
Approaching the site from the north, walk along the Lane Head track, and along the path south-eastwards, then turn right onto the main footpath until coming to the stream. Follow the stream up the fell to the large clump of reeds, then follow your ears until you locate the spring! Or you can approach it along the main footpath from the Oakenclough – Galgate road. The well and the path to it
are on access land.
Archaeology & History
Fortunately recorded by the Ordnance Survey on their 1846 6″ map Lancashire XL, the story of St Ellen’s Well was taken up sixty years later by local holy wells historian Henry Taylor (1906):
“The site of this holy well is marked on the ordnance map at a lonely spot on Harris Fell, five hundred feet above the sea-level, four and a half miles in a north-easterly direction from the town of Garstang.
“Mr. A. King has kindly examined the site. He writes, 4th August, 1902: “We had no difficulty in locating the spot…. There is no outward indication of the place being used for curative means, and there is no stonework at all. It is a beautifully cold spring which is at the side of ‘Bonny Pad’, a pathway leading across the moor from Harris End, and it was grown around with rushes…. All I can glean about it is that one of the oldest inhabitants, when asked if he knew of it, replied, ‘It will be th’ holy well, you mean.'”
The original dedication of this remote holy well was clearly to St. Helen, and its presence next to the Bonny Pad or path may indicate a pre-Christian dedication to a local cognate of the Celtic Elen Luyddog, Elen of the hosts or ways. The Bonny Pad is shown but not not named on the 1846 map, and follows a broadly southwest to northeast direction from Harris End (again not named on the 1846 map) up to Grizedale Head on the southern edge of the Catshaw Vaccary. It was perhaps an ancient route used by farmers to take their animals up onto the fell for the summer, and return them to the lowlands in the autumn.
The western portion of Bonny Pad is not shown on the modern map and St Ellen’s Well is not marked, and both have it seems passed out of local memory. An elderly farmer I encountered on my way up to the fell had never heard of the Well.
It is certainly worth the walk if only for the delightful sound of this powerfully flowing spring, the water is pure and cold, and it commands a fine view over the Lancashire plain to the coast.
Taylor, Henry, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, Sherratt & Hughes: Manchester 1906.
Wise, Caroline, “Elen of the Roads of Country and Town”, in Finding Elen – The Quest for Elen of the Ways, edited by Caroline Wise, Eala Press: London 2015.
Follow Long Lane northwards from Scorton, over the crossroads at Crosshill Four Lane Ends, and the cross base will be found at the road edge immediately to the right of the driveway of ‘Sandalwood’ on the left hand side of the road.
Archaeology & History
Described in the Historic Buildings listing citation as:
“Cross base, probably mediaeval. A sandstone boulder, roughly rectangular, with rectangular socket.”
The base of one of the numerous mediaeval wayside crosses that once adorned this part of Lancashire. So what happened to the cross? It’s possible that it was wilfully destroyed in the early nineteenth century as we have a likely culprit in the person of the Reverend Richard ‘Cross Smasher’ Wilkinson (c.1791 – 1823), Curate of Whitechapel, who took it upon himself to destroy the symbol of his religion wheresoever he could find it.
Immediately to the north west of the Cross is Cross Hill. The cross itself was probably a waymarker on the road over Harrisend Fell from Oakenclough, and Bradshaw may be the name of the locality, there being a Bradshaw Bridge just outside Street to the north west, while the 1846 6-inch OS map records a ‘Bradshaw Smithy’ on the same road.
The Cross base is situated in a thick hedgerow on the east side of Horns Lane, opposite St Francis’ Hill Chapel, just to the north of and on the field side of the electricity transmission line that crosses the road at this point. It can be accessed from the field to the north by crossing the stream. In winter the Cross base is just visible from the road side through the hedge.
Archaeology & History
This cross is not described or noted by Henry Taylor in the 1906 edition of his Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells ofLancashire. All that survives is the substantial socketed base of what is likely to have been a mediaeval cross. It is almost completely hidden in the hedge, and is only accessible for ‘hands-on’ inspection from the field side of the road.
It was described by Historic England as:
‘The socket-stone of a probable wayside cross 1.0m square and 1.5m high…. Its present position in a pasture field suggests that it is not in situ.’
Despite this description, the substantial nature of the base leads me to query why anyone would wish to move it from elsewhere. It is more likely that past land-owners have encroached on to the ancient highway, and fenced it accordingly. Maybe the Hill Chapel congregation will at some consider exposing the base on its hill crest position and insert a replica cross?
There is no record of what happened to the original Cross. According to a pamphlet describing Hill Chapel, “this house appears to have always been in Catholic hands”, but no mention is made of the Cross. A likely culprit for its destruction is the early nineteenth century Protestant fundamentalist the Reverend Richard Wilkinson.
In view of the continuity of Catholic ownership and worship at the Hill Chapel site over the road since before the Reformation, and the sustained persecution suffered by local Catholics in the centuries following the Reformation, it is very unlikely that they would have drawn attention to themselves by erecting the Cross, making it almost certainly of pre-Reformation construction.
Anonymous, Hill Chapel Goosnargh, privately published pamphlet available from Hill Chapel, n.d..
In Henry Taylor’s gigantic survey on the Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire (1906), he told that “records of the existence of holy wells in this (district) are scanty in the extreme.” Indeed. He certainly missed this one which, it seems (if modern lore is correct), has sadly fallen prey to that sickness which those ghastly people call ‘progress’. Cited to have been in or near the old graveyard of St. James church in the old village, this once ever-flowing spring of water was of great repute in earlier centuries, not only for general health, magick and traditions, but also supposedly in prolonging life itself!
One of the standard historians of Didsbury, Mr Fletcher Moss (1898), was of the view that this Well may have been the “origin of Didsbury, the place the Saxon settlers would choose first for their church and community.” He may be right. He told that,
“It was said ‘to be holy in papist times.’ Only last summer I several times saw three young ladies who came every morning to bathe their eyes and faces in it, saying, “It was good for sore eyes.” I could not see anything the matter with their eyes, but that may have been my ignorance, or that they were already getting better. In the spring time or early in May the well has often been nearly choked with wild flowers, and pins have been put in for luck. If rags or crutches were ever left there, it was when the water bubbled up in the roadway on the hillside. The flow of it is lessened by drains or sewers, and now it is taken down in pipes. The lane is enclosed with brick walls, and all the romance is gone; but in the longest drought or severest frost the water from the holy well has never failed, and though it may come from the churchyard, we and many others drink no other.”
In an earlier passage (Moss 1891), he talked about the longevity and good health of the local people and who credited the good water here:
“Like most of the old Didsbury folk who never bothered with doctors or change of air, Sam Gaskill, the last clerk, lived to be long past the fourscore years, for I remember him and others much older than he was, regularly going to the Holy Well for the water for their households. As in patriarchal and primitive times the villagers went to the well or spring at eventide and tarried and talked while the water flowed. It mattered nought to them that the water flowed from the churchyard, from the burial-place of their forefathers; they had always been healthy as their forefathers had been healthy, and they wanted no other water and would have no other; that always bubbled up fresh and sparkling in summer or winter, in drought or frost, and never failed.”
Nearby to the east, spirits of the dead were said to come from the old trees of Parrs Wood, long since destroyed by those self-righteous Industrialists…
Million, Ivor R., A History of Didsbury, E. J. Morten 1969
The cross is at the roadside on the south side of Barton Lane at the cross roads with the minor road between Cross House Farm and Barton House.
Archaeology and History
All that survives is the socketed base of a mediaeval cross on a raised paved platform with low raised square section pillars at each corner. Behind the original cross socket stands a large stone block (Described in the Historic England citation as “probably part of a cheesepress“) surmounted by a pyramidal block upon which a modern carved stone cross has been placed.
Henry Taylor (1906) writes in his Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire:
“Barton Cross. These words occur on the map in ancient Gothic letters in Barton Lane, one and a half miles in a westerly direction from Goosnargh Church, showing that in the year 1848 a complete cross stood here. The site is at the intersection of country lanes, and the map shows a small recess or lay-bye in which the cross was planted. Mr. Collinson [Reverend S.E. Collinson, Vicar of Broughton] writes that the base was thrown into a neighbouring pit at the time Daniel’s pedestal was buried. The base and part of the shaft of the Barton Cross have lately been restored to the old site. A new cross has been erected just behind by Mr. Myerscough. Mr. Collinson tells me that in going through some of the old parish registers he found an entry referring to ‘Barton Christ’. He not unnaturally thinks that there must have been a figure on the Cross giving rise to the name. Nothing else would account for it. The neighbourhood of Barton (a pre-Norman settlement) is interesting and deserves a thorough investigation.”
The ‘Daniel’s pedestal’ refers to Daniels Cross, near Broughton, of which Taylor writes:
“The base was removed about sixty years ago. It is now in a neighbouring pit. The facts were obtained from an old man who helped at the destruction of this landmark.”
The pyramidal stone block upon which the modern cross stands is inscribed on the northern face: “Barton Cross re-erected by Councillor R. Myerscough of Preston 1901” while the southern face is inscribed: “Refurbished by Barton Parish council 2000“.
The cross is situated in a small railed enclosure adjoining the pavement on the North side of Church Road on the west side of Lytham, opposite Lowther Gardens.
Archaeology & History
Henry Taylor (1906), author of The Ancient Crosses And Holy Wells Of Lancashire, writes:
“The old market place of Lytham is triangular in shape…Church Road leads out of it, and not far from the church the pedestal of an ancient cross was at one time to be seen. The words ‘Site of Benedictine Priory’ occur on the map close to Lytham Hall, indicating the position of this small religious house, dedicated to SS Mary and Cuthbert, and subject to Durham.”
Lieutenant-Colonel Fishwick writes in his History of the Parish of Lytham:
“Not far from the Parish church on the road to Blackpool is still to be seen the stone socket of a cross, and tradition says that it marks one of the resting places of the body of St. Cuthbert when carried to Durham”
All that survives of the mediaeval original is the socketed base, into which a modern carved stone cross has been inserted. A bronze plaque attached to the cross reads: “According to ancient tradition the body of St Cuthbert about the year 882AD once rested here.”
It is not known whether the destruction of the original cross was the handywork of the local ‘Cross Smasher’ Rev. Richard Wilkinson.
According to an online source, The Very Reverend Monsignor Gradley commissioned a painting by Charles E. Turner entitled: ‘The Monks of Lindisfarne arriving at Lytham with the body of St. Cuthbert, A.D. 878’, intended to be hung in St Joseph’s Seminary, Upholland. Gradley wrote in the October 1889 edition of MerryEngland magazine:-
” In 875 Halfdene invaded Bernicia, the northern portion of Northumbria, . . . Lindisfarne was no longer a safe place for the monks, and they dared no longer expose their great treasure, the relics of St. Cuthbert, to the ruthless impiety of the northern hordes, With their Bishop Eardulf they set out on a weary pilgrimage of seven years.… From Yorkshire they proceeded to Lancashire, and as we find that the holy relics rested at Mellor, near Blackburn, we may suppose they would journey through Ribblesdale, passing on their way the ruined city of Bolmetonacae, the modern Ribchester. They were a numerous company, for besides the venerable Bishop Eardulf there were the Abbot of Carlisle, the monks of Lindisfarne, and many of the natives of that island. In going to Lytham it is probable the party would pass through Preston, where a few houses had gathered about the church built in honour of St. Wilfrid, the great contemporary of St. Cuthbert.
Their way from Preston to Lytham lay through a country abounding in forest and fen. But they would have the advantage of the old Roman road as far as Kirkham. However, the pilgrims met with a hospitable reception, and to this day Lytham is the seaside home of St. Cuthbert on our western coast.”
A small plaque on an adjacent bench records that the cross was re-dedicated by the Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, M.A., Dean of Durham on Sunday 6th September 2009.
Taylor, Henry, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, Manchester, Sherratt and Hughes, 1906.
Fishwick, Lieutenant-Colonel, The History of the Parish of Lytham in the County ofLancaster, Manchester, The Chetham Society, 1907.
Gradley, Most Reverend Monsignor, Article in the October 1889 edition of MerryEngland magazine, abstracted by www.amounderness.co.uk
Acknowledgements: With thanks to Sue Ybarras for directing me to this site.
The cross is situated on the verge at the west side of the B5269 road near its junction with Ashley Lane at Stump Cross, north-east of Goosnargh.
Archaeology & History
All that survives is the socketed base of the mediaeval cross, into which a small modern carved stone cross has been inserted. A bronze plaque attached to the base informs the reader that the cross gives its name to the locality, and that the base was discovered during excavations in 1931.
Richard Cookson (1888), in his Goosnargh Past & Present, writes:
“We have the remains of several upright crosses in this township called “cross stones” all being placed near to some public road or path. The corpses of the Roman Catholics are rested at those stones on their way to internment, and those funeral attendants who are of that persuasion kneel down and offer up a short prayer for the repose of the soul of the departed individual whose body they are conveying to the grave.”
Further to the destruction of crosses in the township, Cookson writes:
“…the Reverend Richard Wilkinson, late minister, of anti-Romanistic notoriety, in his frenzied hostility to the Roman Catholics, caused [the cross] to be broken up and removed…”
The site is listed by Henry Taylor, in his 1906 magnum opus on Lancashire crosses, and speaking generally on the destruction of wayside crosses in the Hundred of Amounderness, he writes:-
“The destruction of so many crosses, which at one time existed in this part of the Hundred, is due to the vandalism early in the nineteenth century of a vicar of Goosnargh, named Wilkinson. He was a vehement Protestant, and owing to his notoriety as a Prophet, was allowed to do much as he liked with these ancient monuments. Many crosses, indeed, it is said, were pulled down with his own hands. His prophesies foretelling the deaths of various persons often unfortunately came true, and he was thus, in this superstitious part of England, dreaded as a wizard. As this work of demolition took place before the date of the Ordnance Survey, there were in all probability many more crosses erected in Mediaeval times in this district than we have now any knowledge of, and it is quite possible that some of the crosses so recklessly destroyed may have been, like those at Halton and Heysham, of pre-Norman date and of great historical value. Fragments of them might even now be found were a diligent search be made.”
Further to this speculation as to the antiquity of these destroyed crosses, it is interesting to note the approximately parallel orientation of roads and field boundaries to the east of the Stump Cross. This may point to the area having been subjected to Roman survey, and the site of the Stump Cross having once been a shrine to the gods of the agrimensores (Roman surveyors) that had been Christianised.
Cookson, Richard, Goosnargh: Past and Present, Preston, H.Oakey, 1888.
Taylor, Henry, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, Manchester, Sherratt and Hughes, 1906.
Richardson, Alan, The Roman Surveyors in Cumberland, P3 Publications: Carlisle 2008.
On the north-side of the River Calder, a short distance above the riverbank below Pendle Hall—as shown on the earliest OS-map of the area, but without a name—the local history writer, Joe Bates (1926), told us about this “spring of icy cold water”, which, in bygone years, “used to be called Robin Hood’s Well.” (Having moved out of the area, I’m not able to say whether this site is still visible. Can any local folk illuminate us on the matter?)
Like many other sacred and healing wells across Britain, Bates (1926) said that the waters from Robin Hood’s Well,
“was at one time considered a specific for certain ailments of the eyes.”
Bates, Joe, Rambles twixt Pendle and Holme, Nelson 1926.
Following a request to see if anyone could locate a lost standing stone in Fence (in the Forest of Pendle) not far from my home, I took up the challenge to locate this relic. One evening in July 2017, I decided to go take a look and having studied all maps I was fairly sure of its old position. Upon finding the deep ravine and the old field boundaries, I followed the line of old mature beech trees (perhaps 250-300 years old) that shroud the deep clough. Behind the biggest beech tree, but now some 10 feet down the slope, there I found the said standing stone, now recumbent and partly stuck into the earth due to its weight (approx 1.5 tonne).
It appears to have either fallen on its own accord as the steep sides of clough are soft clays, unstable and eroding, or it has been pushed out of the way by a previous landowner. It is made of millstone grit and is likely a glacial erratic from off the top of the local fells; it is not of the same type of fine gain flaggy bedrock that exists in the river below. There are no more similar boulders within the clough other than a few small boulders in the bed of the stream. This stone is big: being about 4ft by 3ft and 5ft long that is visible, with considerably more into the banking.
I think it is worth approaching the local landowner to seek his approval to try and re-erect this standing stone in a position away from the crest of the ravine. It obviously was locally important and worthy of noting on the OS Map of 1848 and was not cut up and used as local walling stone, so it either was a boundary marker or held other folklore significance.
Research so far indicates no name is attached to the standing stone, but nearby is a ‘Hoarstones Lodge’ mentioned as a place for the Pendle witches to meet and the ravine and stream is called Spurn Clough, so I feel it apt to name it the Spurn Clough Standing Stone—unless I uncover another name used for the stone. It’s nice to locate a lost standing stone!
Now I throw open the question: should it be restored to its upright position and made safe from falling down the clough?