Tom Cross, Colne, Lancashire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference – SD 92102 43175

Also Known as:

  1. Copy House Cross

Getting Here

Tom Cross on 1892 map
Tom Cross on 1892 map

Follow the same directions as if you’re visiting the Dissenter’s Well.  The cross stands right next to it!

Archaeology & History

This is one of two old stone crosses with the same name within a mile of each other (the other could be found in the walling along Warley Wise Lane).  Included in Taylor’s (1906) stunning magnum opus on the wells and crosses of Lancashire, the site was mentioned in a boundary dispute in the year 1592.  He told how a local man called Mr Carr said,

“John Parkinson, ‘of the age of ffour score and thirtiene year or thereabouts’ stated that Tom Cross and the Graystone were by credible report the boundaries, as well of Lancashire and Yorkshire, as of the manors of Colne and Cowling.”

Years later when Clifford Byrne (1974) surveyed the crosses of East Lancashire, he gave us more details about the site, saying:

“Tom Cross is built into the wall hard by Copy House Farm… At the foot of the Copy House Cross is a well, carved out of a solid block of stone.  The water apparently trickles into the well from a spring at the back of the wall , and the overflow spills into the field.  The top section of the cross is missing, probably it was vandalized at the time of the Reformation or some time afterwards.  It appears that the well was used and probably laid down by the Congregational Church dissenters from the late 17th century.  At that time, a law was passed, soon to be repealed, which decreed that every man should attend his Parish Church.  This meant that those who wished freedom to practise religion in their own form had to firstly attend the Parish Church and then hold a meeting privately afterwards.  At that time, and under those circumstances, it was obviously sensible to meet far away from the Parish Church, and apparently Tom Cross was chosen to meet this need.  The children of the Dissenters would be privately baptised in this well at the foot of the monolith into which, a cross was deeply incised.

Tom Cross is mentioned in a lawsuit in the year 1592 and a map exists dated slightly earlier which shows another cross in the area on Greystone Moor near Blacko…”

Tom Cross stone
Tom Cross stone

Byrne suggested that the name ‘Tom Cross’ relates to a boundary cross, but this is not substantiated in local dialect or place-name surveys (who say nothing!).  Instead, Joseph Wright (1905) gives us the possibility of Tom being simply, “a kind of rock”; although a variety of other associations relate it children’s games, customs and goblins. The word may derive from the Gaelic ‘tom’, relating to a mound, or clump, or knoll in the landscape (Watson 1926).  I’d go for one of these misself.  Makes sense.

References:

  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.
  3. Watson, W.J., The Celtic Placenames of Scotland, Edinburgh 1926.
  4. Wright, Joseph (ed.), English Dialect Dictionary – volume 6, Henry Frowde: Oxford 1905.

Acknowledegments:  Big thanks to Chris Swales for guiding me to the site; and to the old Teddy Man, Danny Tiernan.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Tom Cross

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Tom Cross 53.884722, -2.121638 Tom Cross

Jerusalem Farm Stone, Laneshaw Bridge, Lancashire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SD 92076 42714  —  NEW FIND

Getting Here

Jerusalem Farm standing stone
Jerusalem Farm standing stone

From Colne or Laneshaw Bridge, head up the Skipton Old Road which heads up towards Bleara Moor (with its prehistoric cairns).  Way before that though, about 100 yards before you reach the Black Lane Ends pub, turn left up the track to Jerusalem Farm.  Go past it, through the gates and keep on the track until, another coupla hundred further uphill, you’ll see it on the skyline ahead of you…

Archaeology & History

There appears to be no previous reference to this standing stone, found high upon the lonely ridge beside the old track that runs between Laneshaw Bridge and Kelbrooke and Earby.  Well eroded on all sides, it isn’t shown on the early or recent maps and has evaded the archaeological registers of the area (but this is Lancashire, where archaeology has been damn lazy on the county’s prehistoric relics until very recently).  It may have been laid down for an age, only recently resurrected—we simply do not know.  Standing nearly five-feet tall, on its top western face is what looks like a very faded cup-marking, but this may be a fortuitous Rorscharch. There are no marks or holes in the stone to indicate it has ever been used as a gatepost.

Looking far far east
Looking far into the east
Looking northwest
Looking northwest

I was guided here by the northern antiquarian and stonemason Chris Swales a few weeks ago and was quite taken aback by its position in the landscape—which is outstanding!  Apart from being blocked to the west by the rise of the Great Edge, the views to the north through east and south and superb.  On the far eastern skyline rises the legendary Hitching Stone, between which is the seemingly cairn-less Knarrs Hill.

Further north along the track we reach the old Dissenter’s Well and its moving companion, the Tom Cross (which has marked different parts of the Lancashire and Yorkshire boundary). Other than this, we know nothing more. An intriguing spot and well worth visiting!

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Jerusalem Farm stone

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Jerusalem Farm stone 53.880568, -2.122015 Jerusalem Farm stone

Ring Stones Hill, Catlow, Nelson, Lancashire

Stone Circle (destroyed?):  OS Grid Reference – SD 892 367

Archaeology & History

Set in good landscape with fine views in most directions, it seems that the only thing that remains of this site is a place-name on a map—but I have to say that our search here was only a short one, and so more may be found hiding away in field walls or beneath the ground.  However, if we listen to an early account of the place, it was said to have “completely gone by 1856.”  A pity, as it was described as being “a large circle of stones.”  The monument was used for repairing the nearby road and, in another account, we are told that the stones were added to the walls.  Whether this was a cairn circle or a free standing stone circle isn’t known.  The prevalence of tumuli close by at Catlow, Burwains, etc, would suggest a cairn circle, yet we have no accounts of human remains here… A puzzle.

References:

  1. Barnes, Bernard, Man and the Changing Landscape, Liverpool University 1982.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Ringstones Hill

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Ringstones Hill 53.827823, -2.164952 Ringstones Hill

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.

References:

  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

Swinden Cross

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Swinden Cross 53.864563, -2.186300 Swinden Cross

Emmott Cross, Colne, Lancashire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference – SD 888 401

Also Known as:

  1. Touch Cross

Archaeology & History

The Emmott Cross

At the north side of St Bartholomew’s church-yard, Colne, stands the medieval Emmott Cross or Touch Cross. It was re-erected here in 1967 by local historian Mr Wilfred Spencer and a team of volunteers having being removed from the grounds of Emmott Hall, Laneshawbridge, when the old hall was being pulled down. The cross had stood for centuries close to the famous Hallown Well, both of which were highly venerated by pilgrims travelling between Whalley Abbey and Yorkshire. It appears that originally the cross had stood at the side of the Stanbury to Haworth road over Herders, close by Emmott.

The cross shaft stands 7 feet tall and is referred to as of the English Gothic style, probably 13th century. It stands in an octagonal socketed stone base which is 2 foot high and 4 foot square. Its slender octagonal shaft tapers away towards the top where there is a carved capital or corona – this may once have held a cross head or some other religious object. There used to be some faint lettering on the shaft but this has now worn away. A local historian Dr Whitaker described the lettering as “I.H.S.” along with the Greek omega symbol.

It was to all intent and purposes a preaching cross to which pilgrims would congregate and listen to the word of God and many would be baptised in the Hallown Well at the same time. In the penal times of the 16th century the cross was in great use, but by the 17th century it was being referred to as a “papist cross”.  During this period in history it suffered damage and the shaft broken in two places; the cross-head taken away and smashed. For safety reasons the cross-shaft was removed to Colne church-yard but returned to the grounds of Emmott Hall in 1728 when relative calm had returned.

The slender cross shaft and its hefty base are said to weigh about 2 tons and I have no doubt it does. It is now grade 11 listed.

Folklore

The name Touch Cross probably comes about in the sense that pilgrims touched the cross in the hope of a safe pilgrimage, or the name may be something to do with a troop of soldiers who were stationed at the hall in the past. They touched the stone too, but for different reasons – that they would live to fight another day in battle.

References:

  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.
  3. Whitaker, Thomas Dunham, An History of the Original Parish of Whalley and Honor of Clitheroe, Nichols, Son & Bentley: London 1818.

© Ray Spencer, 2011

Emmott Cross

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Emmott Cross 53.857388, -2.170230 Emmott Cross

Catlow Quarry, Nelson, Lancashire

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SD 884 367

Archaeology & History

Long since destroyed, we are thankful to the writings of Thomas Booth (1899) that this site was recorded.  In his rare work on the prehistoric burial sites of the region he told us how this tomb was unearthed,

The Catlow urn

“in March 1854, at Catlow quarry, in Marsden (Heights), a few miles across the hills from Todmorden in the direction of Colne, where a number of workmen who were engaged baring the rock came across two or three cinerary urns.  These were very carelessly handled by the men, and as these vases are almost always made of clay only partially baked…they are very easily broken; the result, therefore, of the rude treatment of the quarrymen was that the vessels were broken to pieces.”

The mound from which the urns had been dug was also destroyed, but apparently the last remnants of the urns were presented to the Burnley Literary Institution sometime in the late 1890s — though where they’ve travelled since then, 120 years on, I have no idea!

References:

  1. Bennett, Walter, The History of Burnley – volume 1, Burnley County Council 1946.
  2. Booth, Thomas, Ancient Grave Mounds on the Slopes of the Pennine Range, R. Chambers: Todmorden 1899.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Catlow Quarry tomb

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Catlow Quarry tomb 53.826853, -2.177085 Catlow Quarry tomb

Castercliff, Nelson, Lancashire

Enclosure:  OS Grid Reference – SD 8850 3840

Also Known as:

  1. Caster Cliff

Getting Here

Castercliff hillfort plan (after D.G. Coombs)

From Colne train station, cross the road and go along Bridge Street and where it meets Knotts Street follow it all the way up into the countryside and, bending to the right, uphill again until it levels out.  The farmhouse a few hundred yards ahead of you (just off Southfield Lane) at the bend in the road is where you’re heading.  There’s a track on your right, just before the farm.  Go on this and look into the field immediately right.  The undulations and earthworks are the remains of this old hillfort!

Archaeology & History

This old site was constructed some 850 feet above sea level, overlooking the valley of Colne immediately west and giving commanding views of the outstretched landscape towards the sacred Pendle Hill and beyond for many miles.  The place was described as early as Castell Clif in 1515, and then again as Castyclyff in 1533, meaning simply the “castle on a cliff” or high verge as it is here.  Yet despite its early appearances in literary studies, the first real work to explore this monument doesn’t appear to have been done until one J.A. Plummer carried out work on the site between 1958-60.  However, Plummer died before being able to publish his findings in full.   Ascribed variously as a settlement, an enclosure, and generally in the archaeological fraternity as a hillfort, the first detailed published description of the site was done by Forde-Johnston (1965), where he told:

Forde-Johnston’s early plan

“The hillfort is a very regular oval in shape and encloses an area about 350ft long and 250ft wide.  The overall dimensions are 550ft by 450ft.  The site has been affected by quarrying on the south and east and there are a number of gaps in the defences on the northern and western sides.  The character of the remains differs in various parts of the site, but the general pattern appears to be as follows.  The innermost line of defence is represented by a very slight bank or, in many places, only a very shallow scarp which can be traced round the whole circuit of the site… The second or middle bank is the most prominent or substantial of the three.  It has considerable gaps in its length, but the various portions are all of much the same character — it rises between 3 and 5ft above the interior and falls about 9ft to the ditch bottom.  On the south side the middle rampart takes the form of a scarp about 10ft high, immediately below the scarp of the inner rampart.  The third, outermost bank is, in fact, a counterscarp bank to the second ditch.  It does not exist as a continuous bank around the whole of the site, but there are sections of it on the northern and eastern sides.  On the eastern and northeastern sides, from which approach was easiest, there appear to have been additional outer defences, situated about 70ft forward of the counterscarp bank.  These outer defences now take the form of a scarp about 4ft high curving round the eastern and northeastern sides for about 250ft.  At the southern end there is an inner scarp, forming a bank, and a little to the south, is a detached portion of bank.  There are other short detached sections of bank on the northern side which are presumably to be connected with these outer defences.”

When Mr Plummer did his excavation here a few years before, one section of the site was examined and, thanks to the survival of an interim report he did — described by D.G. Coombs (1971) — we know the following of what he did:

“His work was concentrated in the northwest corner of the site where he cut a trench through the defences.  Outside the counterscarp bank, which was not continuous, there was a bedding trench, packed with stones and containing charcoal.  The ditch, which was rock-cut and flat-bottomed, had a homogenous fill.  The rampart itself showed timber supports at the front and back with traces of stone revetting at the front and some distance from the timber uprights.  The rear of the rampart was marked by a line of stones.  Behind this rampart the site had been extensively disturbed and here he claimed to have found traces of primitive iron-smelting furnaces constructed from stones packed and sealed with loose black earth.  A single post-hole beneath the rampart was suggested to belong to an earlier phase.”

Though we have to note here that Mr Plummer believed that the iron furnace remains were actually medieval in date, but that the embanked settlement itself was Iron Age and “that the collapse of the fort could be dated between 60-90 AD.”  When Mr Coombs and his team came back here in 1970 to re-examine the works of both Plummer and Forde-Johnston, they confirmed some of their earlier finds, but uncovered additional finds at what they called this “once great fortress.”

Folklore

In Robert Lord’s (1976) superb imaginary piece on what he calls the Pendle Zodiac (a zodiac allegedly forged into the landscape in ancient times, in the manner of the famous and equally imaginary Glastonbury zodiac), a section of the deity Diana is made up of this prehistoric earthwork:

“The lower edge of the cap (on her head) coincides with a minor road between Colne, skirting the Iron Age Castercliffe hill-fort, above Nelson, as far as Catlow.”

…to be continued…

References:

  1. Coombs, D.G., Interim Report: Excavation at Castercliff, Nelson, Lancs., Unpublished Report 1971.
  2. Ekwall, Eilert, The Place-Names of Lancashire, Manchester University Press 1922.
  3. Forde-Johnston, The Hill-Forts of Lancashire and Cheshire, Lancashire & Cheshire Antiquarian Society 1962.
  4. Pennick, Nigel & Lord, Robert, Terrestrial Zodiacs in Britain, Institute for Geomantic Research: Bar Hill 1986.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Castercliffe hillfort

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Castercliffe hillfort 53.841588, -2.176352 Castercliffe hillfort

Herder’s Cross, Wycoller, Lancashire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference – SD 94057 39369

Also Known as:

  1. Herders Common Cross

Getting Here

From Laneshaw Bridge, near Colne, take the long country road that goes up above Wycoller to Stanbury and Haworth over the Yorkshire-Lancashire border.  A couple of miles uphill, there’s a parking spot with views across the moors.  Stop here.  Cross the road and walk up for about 100 yards, going thru the rickety gate on the left, and up the field (past the small disused quarry) until you see the large rock looming ahead of you, perched on its own.  That’s it!

Archaeology & History

Herders Cross stone

This is a really curious spot to me.  A large singular boulder sat on the edge of an uninhabited moorland with no real history of heathenism, nor religious practices; yet someone at sometime in the not-too-distant past saw something here that made them cut a large square hollow into the top of this stone, in which they stuck an old cross.  We came across this site a few weeks ago quite by accident, but realised that the deep hollow in the rock was an old cross base; so when I got home I checked Taylor’s (1906) magnum opus, expecting to find some info therein.  But even Taylor seemed to know nothing of this place.

A week or two later, Paul Hornby pointed me in the direction of an unpublished essay by a local chap called Clifford Byrne (1974) who’d studied some of the early christian remains in the region and who wrote the following of what he named “Herders Cross”:

“This cross, or more properly its socket, is probably one of the least known in the area.  It was shown to the writer by Mr Stanley Cookson of Trawden, who discovered the socket in passing, so to speak.  On the road to Haworth from Laneshawbridge, opposite the site of Foster’s Leap rocks, on the east side of the road, is a really huge boulder on the moor top.  In the south side is the cross socket, whilst on the north side of the rock can be made out a right-angled mark which implies that either the socket was being placed on that side in the first instance, or that two sockets were once envisaged…

“Old maps show the rock in situ with a “shaft” protruding from the top.  Some yards west a shallow pony track  bypasses the site, whilst some four or five hundred yards east a very well worn and ancient road, long unused, passes in the direction of Emmot Holy Well.  The cross may thus have been a Wayside Cross showing the way to this Holy spring which is remembered as being propitious in the cure of rheumatism.”

Cross-base socket

This may be so; but I suspect earlier, heathen remains upon the moors here to explain the curious position of both this and another cross-base some 400 yards away.  Some dubious cup-marks can be seen by the side of the stone hollow; and other dubious ones have been found on the moors above here.  There is folklore of a lost stone circle on the hills above here, and a scattering of little-known faerie lore, indicating hidden sites and lost myths.  These ingredients are more likely the reasons that Herders Cross was erected here, overlooking the countryside south and west, with the holy hill of Pendle rising in the centre of the distant landscape…

References:

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

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Herders cross

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Herders cross 53.850537, -2.091808 Herders cross

St. Helen’s Well, Colne, Lancashire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – SD 890 397

Getting Here

This site can be reached with relative ease from Colne’s train station by crossing the road and going up Bridge Street, turning immediately left along Shaw Street for several hundred yards until you reach Waterside Road on your left-hand side.  From here, as Mr Tom Sharples told, “St. Helen’s Well is presently within the area of overgrown and unmanaged scrub woodland adjacent to Waterside Road.”  Look around!

Archaeology & History

First described on the Megalithic Portal by the pseudonymous Brionnfhionn, this recently rediscovered holy well can be found on the southern side of Colne, at Waterside.  A few months after the MegPortal announcement, a more detailed overview of the site was published on GoogleDocs, from where Mr Tom Sharples has kindly allowed us to repeat the information that both he and Susan Bryant-Lauder compiled there.

The site was relocated after reference had been found in Geoff Crambie’s (1978) A Colne Festival, where he wrote:

“1935 saw the end of St. Helen’s Mill in Waterside.  Built by Nicholas England in 1835, it was named after the St. Helen’s Well nearby, which was reputed to have been named by the Romans.”

The local writer Dorothy Harrison (1988) also mentioned the site, though only in passing, when she told,

“Along with St. Helen’s Well, Buck Spout provided the main source of drinking water in Waterside.”

There has to be some more information about this little-known site hidden in some old Lancastrian history or folklore work, somewhere – surely!?

References:

  1. Crambie, Geoff, A Colne Festival, Turner & Earnshaw: 1978.
  2. Harrison, Dorothy (ed.), The History of Colne, Pendle Heritage Centre 1988.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

St Helen's Well

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St Helen\'s Well 53.853803, -2.168031 St Helen\'s Well

Wycoller Bridge, Trawden, Lancashire

Cup-Marked Stones:  OS Grid Reference – SD 931 393

Getting Here

Easy enough to find once you’ve actually got to Wycoller.  By car, the only real way to get here is from Colne, through the village of Winewall, and along the Wycoller road, which runs to a dead end.  Once here, the old packhorse bridge with these cup-marks on it can’t be missed!

Archaeology & History

Wycoller Bridge's cup-marked stones (after Jackson, 1962)
Wycoller Bridge’s cup-marked stones (after Jackson, 1962)

Weird one this! On the famous packhorse bridge close to the old hall, four of the stones have cup-markings etched onto them. It seems that at least three of the carvings are archaic; cups on one of them seems somewhat deep and appears to be medieval. A short article describing them was in the Bradford Cartwright Hall Archaeology Bulletin (1962) where they were just as puzzled about them.  In 1979, J.A. Heginbottom described them in his survey on the prehistoric rock-art of upper Calderdale.  The stones on which the cups were carved may have been taken from a prehistoric tomb on the edge of the moor further up the valley from here.

Folklore

Just next to this bridge is another, much older one, known locally as the Clapper or Druid’s Bridge which perhaps has some bearing on the curious cup-markings.  Legend tells that this older construction was so called “because legend has it that it led to an amphitheatre where the druids held human sacrifices” – and the field just up from here (to the southwest) was known as the Dripping Stone Field.  Hmmmmm…..

References:

  1. Bentley, John, Portrait of Wycoller, Nelson Local History Society 1975.
  2. Heginbottom, J.A., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Upper Calderdale, unpublished report: 1979.
  3. Jackson, Sidney, ‘Cup-Marked Stones at Wycoller,’ in Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin, October 1962.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Wycoller cupmarks

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Wycoller cupmarks 53.849435, -2.104244 Wycoller cupmarks