Mount Cross, Cornholme, Todmorden, West Yorkshire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference – SD 91460 27280

Also Known as:

  1. Idol Cross

Getting Here

Mount Cross, near Cornholme
Mount Cross, near Cornholme

The site can be approached by going up the almost hidden long steep winding lane off the A646 in Cornholme; but if you don’t know the area it’s probably best approached from the well known Bride Stones, above Todmorden.  From here, go west along the road running 100 yards or so above the Bride Stones, past the old pub, past Hawk Stones farm, and turning left downhill about a quarter-mile on.  A coupla 100 yards down, there’s a track to your left.  As you start walking along you’ll see a standing stone on the grassy rise in front of you on your left.  That’s it!

Archaeology & History

Mount Cross on 1848 map

Said by local writer Geoff Boswell (1986) to be “the oldest religious memorial in Todmorden,” this old stone, more than 4-feet tall, is still in good condition and can be found beside the Old Causeway: a prehistoric trackway running between Lancashire and Yorkshire which is said by archaeologists to have been an old, but established trade route.  It was suggested by some to have been erected as a cross as early as the 7th century.  Generally known as the Mount Cross, it is also known as the Idol Cross, as legend reputes it to have been the site of pagan practices; hence its repute as being haunted. Its alleged heathen history is probably true (history records describe an old “rude stone” that was once found beneath the legendary Bride Stones nearby, which was moved many centuries back).

The Calderdale Council website tells that,

“Towards the bottom of the shaft on the NE side are what appears to be extremely faint traces of vine-scroll decoration which would suggest a fairly early date for the cross, possibly tenth or eleventh century. The irregularity of the carving overall tends to indicate that the cross is no earlier.”

Folklore

Said to have stood upon or beside a small tumulus until the 20th century. Jessica Lofthouse (1976) reported that a local farmer said of this stone. “Queer things happened here long since. They worshipped idols here.” Locally attributed to be haunted, the old stone was said to have a history of “uncanny happenings.”

…to be continued…

References:

  1. Bennett, P., The Old Stone Crosses of West Yorkshire, unpublished MS, 1995.
  2. Boswell, Geoff, On the Tops around Todmorden, Delta G: Todmorden 1986.
  3. Lofthouse, Jessica, North Country Folklore, Hale: London 1976.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.741829, -2.130958 Mount Cross

Thieveley, Holme Chapel, Lancashire

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SD 873 277

Archaeology & History

A prehistoric cairn or tumulus could once be found close to the grid-reference cited here, but all trace of it has long since been destroyed.  The site was mentioned briefly in Thomas Booth’s (1899) short survey on the prehistoric tombs of the area, telling:

“I have omitted to mention in its proper place a find which took place at Holmes Chapel about the year 1826.  The particulars are very meagre but, according to a local journal published some fifty years ago, called The Comet (edited by the late Abraham Stansfield), some workmen who were engaged in pulling down a barn at Thieveley discovered an ancient urn, whose contents were of a similar kind to those of other urns of this class.”

The “other urns” he mentions are those that have been found in prehistoric tombs on the north side of the same valley, including those at Cliviger Laithe, at Catlow, at Delf Hill and other sites close by.  Remains of another prehistoric cairn can be found close by on top of the hill at Thieveley Pike to the south, where a beacon was built, damaging the original tomb.

References:

  1. Booth, Thomas, Ancient Grave Mounds on the Slopes of the Pennine Range, R. Chambers: Todmorden 1899.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Thieveley tumulus

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Thieveley tumulus 53.745518, -2.194047 Thieveley tumulus