Holy Moor, Holymoorside, Derbyshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SK 3211 6866

Getting Here

The stone in question!

From Holymoorside, take the long straight Loads Road running west out of the town into Longside Road. ¾-mile along, past Home View and just before Well Lane (on the right), there’s a public footpath sign pointing into the fields on your left. Walk dead straight, dead south along the wallside for 450 yards, then walk straight left again along the other wall until you reach the tiny bit of moorland less than 150 yards away.  The carved rock is just on the other side of the stile at the edge of the old walling.  You’ll find it.

Archaeology & History

Rediscovered sometime in 2002, this would seem to be an isolated cup-and-ring stone.  It was first mentioned in John Barnatt’s (2003) short gazetteer of Peakland petroglyphs, where he wrote,

“This irregularly-shaped small boulder was identified recently lying amongst post-medieval field clearance adjacent to a field corner and footpath… Its upper parts ar covered with 40-46 cupmarks.  On the exposed irregular top they are badly worn and sometimes uncertainly identified.  In one instance a cup is partly encircled by a worn ring, while a second partial ring nearby may be fortuituous.  On a ledge near one edge of the boulder preservation is better and the cups are clearly defined and densely arranged.”

The stone looks as if it’s been moved into its present location, obviously for use in the walling.  It’s original position would have been somewhere close by, but we know not where that might be.


  1. Barnatt, John & Robinson, F., “Prehistoric Rock Art in Ashover School and Further New Discoveries Elsewhere in the Peak District,” in Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, 123, 2003.


  1. Pecsaetan – Holymoorside Cup-and-Ring Marked Boulder 

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to Geoff Watson for use of the photos in this site profile.  It wouldn’t have been written without them.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Holland’s Well, Smalley, Derbyshire

Healing Well:  OS Grid Reference – SK 4077 4436

Also Known as:  

  1. Holly Well

Archaeology & History

Hollands Well on 1881 map

Once visible near the middle of the village, references to this local water supply seem pretty scant.  According to Kenneth Cameron (1950) it gained its name from a local man called Robert Holland.  This may be the case; but there is a curious entry found in a notice regarding the Land Enclosures of Smalley from November 6, 1784.  In it we read that the land here was at that time owned by one Samuel Kerry (well known in the village as he built The Rose and Crown pub in 1768) who was living “upon the Common” and had “part of a croft” here.  Therein was mentioned a water source named the ‘Holly Well’ instead of the Holland Well.  I can only assume that the two are the same, as the proximity of them are very close indeed.  The account told that,

“a disused well in the triangular croft at the back of the sixth milestone in the village marks the site of (Samuel Kerry’s) original home, and he is said to have dug the “Holly Well” close by for brewing purposes, which has long supplied the vicinity with good water.”

The name ‘Holly’ may infer that a holly tree grew by the side of the well, and that the title ‘Holland’ was a corruption later grafted onto the site.  Are there any local historians out there who know more…?


  1. Cameron, Kenneth, The Place-Names of Derbyshire – volume 2, Cambridge University Press 1950.
  2. Kerry, Charles, Smalley in the County of Derby, Bemrose: London 1905.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

St John’s Well, Dronfield, Derbyshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid-Reference  SK 353 783

Getting Here

St Johns Well, Dronfield

St Johns Well, Dronfield

In Dronfield, St. John’s Well is to be found off Church street in the Forge in the courtyard adjacent to the glass roofed atrium on the left hand side.

Archaeology & History

J.C. Cox (1875–9) in his Churches of Derbyshire appears to the sole reference although he quotes a lost 1710 reference.  He notes a St. John’s Well cited by Francis Bassano, c.1710, saying:

“…a well, close to the churchyard in St John’s Lane, called St John’s Well, from which “they usually fetch water now for baptising infants””.

Looking down the well...

Looking down the well…

...and into the waters

…and into the waters

Despite only this slight mention, the site still survive.  According to local historian Mr. Ken Ward, the well is that now found in the courtyard of the forge: a 16th century building now developed into a small shopping complex.  He states it is 80 metres from the south porch of the church supporting Bassano’s location.  The site is along Church Street (previously Church Lane) which he believes was once called St. John’s Lane. The well is a circular one with modern stonework on the top.  However, this encloses a much older ring of six layers with a grill apparently opening out into a larger chamber below.  It appears to be a deeper well than would be expected, but it is spring-fed and was presumably deepened for use in the forge.


  1. Cox, J. Charles, Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire – volume 1, Palmer & Edmonds: Chesterfield 1875.

Cratcliff West Enclosure, Harthill, Derbyshire

Enclosure:  OS Grid Reference – SK 2259 6238

Getting Here

Site of Cratcliff West enclosure

Site of Cratcliff West enclosure

Taking the roughly north-south road betwixt the village of Elton and the town of Youlgreave, rising up to see the great rock outcrop of Robin Hood’s Stride, park-up by the roadside and walk down the path towards the impressive rocky rise of Robin Hood’s Stride.  Keep to the fields below the Rise on its north side and head for the next wooded rise 2-300 yards west.  In the field you’ll cross (field number 202 in on the map, right) before this wooded crag [Cratcliffe Rocks], the outline of the enclosure is beneath your very feet.

Archaeology & History

Aerial image of the Ninestone Ring enclosure

Aerial image of the Ninestone Ring enclosure

This blatantly obvious oval-shaped enclosure or settlement ring has had very little said of it in archaeological circles as far as I can tell. (please correct me if it has!)  I found it quite fortuitously during aerial surveys of the nearby Nine Stones circle.  It’s certainly quite large.  With a general circumference of roughly 285 yards (260.5m), the relative diameters of this enclosure are—from north to south—91 yards (83m) and—east to west—80 yards (73.25m).  The ditch alone is quite wide all the way around, almost giving it a ‘henge’ quality.  Its southern section is nearly 10 yards across at one point!

The northwest section of the enclosure has been built into, or upon a small natural outcrop of rocks.  But also at this point—as seen clearly in the aerial photo—on the other side of the wall just past the raised natural outcrop, is a long straight parallel linear feature, very probably man-made, running away to the northwest for at least 174 yards (159m).  It too is quite large, averaging  more than 13 yards (12m) across all along the length of this “trackway”: twice as wide as the nearest road and similar in form to the smaller cursus monuments that scattered neolithic Britain.

The site seems to be typical in form and structure to general Iron Age, or perhaps late Bronze Age settlements – but without a proper ground appraisal, this is a purely speculative appraisal.  Any further information or images of this site to enable a clearer picture of its nature would be most welcome.

Acknowledgements:  With thanks in various way to Pete Woolf, Dave Williams, Geoff Watson & Martin Burroughs.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

Nanny’s Well, Chapel le Frith, Derbyshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid-Reference – SK 061 810

Getting Here

Nanny's Well, Chapel-le-Frith
Nanny’s Well, Chapel-le-Frith

To find Nanny’s Well, take B5474 out of Chapel and take the right hand turning called Crossings road (which goes to Chinley) which is before Frith view on the left. Continue until the small wall surrounding the site can be seen on the right.

Archaeology & History

The name it is said to be either from St Ninian (less likely) or St Anne (more likely as she is also considered the mother of Mary and thus Grandmother of Jesus).

copyright Pixyled
The Nanny well pump


It is described in M.J.B Baddeley’s Peak district of Derbyshire (1913) and the neighbourhood as:

“a valuable but neglected spring of chalybeate water.”


Yet in 1895, a Manchester firm of Grace, Calvert and Thompson  analysed it and found it:

“not polluted to any extent with organic matter of animal or vegetable origin and comes from a spring of considerable depth and that no surface water has become mixed with it’…in same respects the water of this well is of the same nature as that from the Tunbridge Wells springs.”

The site is now an iron pump by the side of Crossings Road, known as Nanny Well Road, enclosed in a low wall along which. The pump no longer works and the well capped but it can be heard and just about seen through a crack beneath.

Copyright Pixyled
A peer through the crack shows running water!


copyright Pixyled
Nanny well plaque

It was visited on Easter Morning, with sugar or licorice to make Spanish Water, and then the bottles were hung around their necks. The site is one of four wells dressed annually since the 1980s in July and the site is blessed.

Extracted from Parish, R. B., (2008) Holy Wells and Healing springs of Derbyshire


© R.B. Parish, The Northern Antiquarian

Holy Well, King’s Newton, Derbyshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – SK 386 262

Getting Here

The well depicted in Hope’s (1893) Legendary lore of holy wells, sadly he says nothing about it!
The well depicted in Hope’s (1893) Legendary lore of holy wells, sadly he says nothing about it!

The Holy Well is signposted off the road to Castle Donington on the left hand side as you near a small brook, past new bridge and it will be seen down the track. It can be muddy, so bring some boots!

Archaeology & History

It is first noted in 1366 as ‘Halywalsiche.’  The purchase of the lands of St Catherine’s Chantry, lately dissolved, in 1564, refers to lands here at ‘Holy well hedge’ and ‘Hollywell siche.’  A carved inscription over the well read:

Fons sacer hic strvitvr Roberto Nominus Hardinge 16xx

translating as:

this Holy well was built by Robert named Hardinge 16xx“.

Briggs suggested the date of 1660, which is quite likely, as it coincides with the Restoration of Charles II as the family at the nearby hall.  The aforementioned Hardinge, were staunch Royalists, and of course puritans disliked holy wells as many other so called ‘popish’ things. However, its restoration may have been for little more than to maintain a good water supply. Later depictions such as pre-war postcards show the date to be quite clearly 1662.

The restored holy well today, original stonework to rear with newer stone at the front
The restored holy well today, original stonework to rear with newer stone at the front

The present condition of the well is tribute to its local community.  The arch survived for nearly 300 years but a combination of vandals and the roots of the nearby ash tree caused the arch fall down and it lay in pieces in the 1950s. Sadly the original inscription appears to have been stolen or entirely broken to pieces. However, unlike many similar sites, this was not the final fate of the well. In the 1980s it was restored using as many of the old stones as possible. The landowner was happy to sell the land and Melbourne Civic Society donated money for its restoration. No artifacts were found, apart from 17th century Ticknall ware pottery, later tiles, and drainpipes fragments. Most of the original stones were recovered, but the job of reconstructing them appeared to be a large task and new stone was required. The arch over the well was left blank as it was thought misleading to re-inscribe it. Usher (1985) notes that on the first Sunday after Ascension Day, May 19th 1985, over a hundred people gathered for the opening ceremony when the plaque was unveiled by the Society’s President, the Marquees of Lothian, of Melbourne Hall. It is delightful to see it restored and celebrated by the community.


There appears to be no records regarding its properties baring its ‘superior excellence of its waters‘, and being noted as a mineral spring. Interestingly, its waters are said to flow towards the rising sun.

Extracted from R.B.Parish’s (2011) Holy wells and healing springs of Derbyshire


  1. Usher, H., (1984) The Holy Well at King’s Newton, Derbyshire. Old Series Source

© R.B. Parish, The Northern Antiquarian

Gardoms Edge 02, Baslow, Derbyshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SK 2752 7328

Archaeology & History

Gardoms Edge 2 carving, in Sheffield Museum (photo - Dean Thom)
Gardoms Edge 2 carving, in Sheffield Museum (photo – Dean Thom)

This carving is one of two cup-and-ring stones that were removed from this area and transported to Sheffield Museum, decontextualizing them from their landscape presence (this should not be done unless very severe damage is happening, or their destruction is imminent).  It’s quite an intriguing carving, similar in design to one found not far away at Great Hucklow, the Middleton Moor 479 carving, etc.  Like many Pennine cup-and-ring stones, it was located in a prehistoric cairn field (or necropolis), with hut circles not far away too, and really should have remained in situ for the benefit of future researchers.

Gardoms Edge carving (after Beckensall 1999)
Gardoms Edge carving (after Beckensall 1999)

The carving was cut into one end of a small rock and comprises of a singular unbroken, large oval, within which are enclosed thirteen or fourteen cups, plus a single cup on the outside of the ring.  Lunar associations may be invoked by the 13 cups, enclosed within one cycle of the year.  But I’m speculating of course.  It’s probable that other carvings in the area remained undiscovered.


  1. Barnatt, John & Reeder, Phil, “Prehistoric Rock Art in the Peak District,” in Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, 102, 1982.
  2. Barnatt, John & Robinson, F., “Prehistoric Rock Art in Ashover School and Further New Discoveries Elsewhere in the Peak District,” in Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, 123, 2003.
  3. Beckensall, Stan, British Prehistoric Rock Art, Tempus: Stroud 1999.
  4. Beckensall, Stan, Circles in Stone: A British Prehistoric Mystery, Tempus: Stroud 2006.

Acknowledgements:  HUGE thanks to Dean Thom for the use of his photo here.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Hermit’s Well, Dale Abbey, Derbyshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – SK 4378 3861

Getting Here

Dale Abbey is a small and interesting village not far from Ilkeston. It can be found by taking the A6096 from Ilkeston and after passing through Kirk Hallam, take the first turning on the left called Arbour Hill. At the Carpenter’s Arms in the village turn right and park near the church. The well lies within the private garden of Church house, although it can be easily seen in the winter from the field in which the footpath below the church passes through, as well from the church yard.

Archaeology & History

R.C. Hope (1893) gives two versions of the story of how the hermit found the well and cave, taken from the Chronicle of Thomas de Musca quoted in Glover’s History of Derbyshire:

“A hermit once going through Deep Dale being very thirsty, and for a time not able to find any water, at last came upon a stream, which he followed up to the place where it rose; here he dug a well, returned thanks to the Almighty, and blessed it, saying it, should be holy for evermore, and be a cure for all ills. Another version is that the famous Hermit of Deep Dale, who lived in the Hermitage which is close by the well, discovered this spring and dug the well, which never dries up, nor does the water diminish in quantity, however dry the season and blessed it.”

In another version of the story, Hope (1893) notes:

“There was a baker in Derby, in the street which is called after the name of St. Mary. At that period the church of the Blessed Virgin at Derby was at the head of a large parish, and had under its authority a church de onere and a chapel. And this baker, otherwise called Cornelius, was a religious man, fearing God, and, moreover, so wholly occupied in good works and the bestowing of alms, that whatsoever remained to him on every seventh day beyond what had been required for the food and clothing of himself and his, and the needful things of his house, he would on the Sabbath day take to the church of St. Mary, and give to the poor for the love of God, and of the Holy Virgin. It happened on a certain day in autumn, when he had resigned himself to repose at the hour of noon, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him in his sleep, saying, ” Acceptable in the eyes of my Son, and of me are the alms thou hast bestowed. But now, if thou art willing to be made perfect, leave all that thou hast, and go to Depedale where thou shalt serve my Son and me in solitude; and when thou shalt happily have terminated thy course thou shalt inherit the kingdom of love, joy, and eternal bliss which God has prepared for them who love Him. The man, awakening, perceived the divine goodness which had been done for his sake; and, giving thanks to God and the Blessed Virgin, his encourager, he straightway went forth without speaking a word to anyone. Having turned his steps towards the east, it befel him, as he was passing through the middle of the village of Stanley, he heard a woman say to a girl, ”Take our calves with you, drive them as far as Depedale, and make haste back.” Having heard this, the man, admiring the favour of God, and believing that this word had been spoken in grace, a, it were, to bin’, was astonished, and approached near, and said, “Good woman, tell me, where is Depedale?” She replied, “Go with this maiden, and she, if you desire it, will show you the place. When he arrived there, he found that the place was marshy, and of fearful aspect, far distant from any habitation of man. Then directing his steps to the south-east of the place, he cut for himself, in the side of the mountain, in the rock, a very small dwelling, and an altar towards the south, which hath been preserved to this day; and there he served God, day and night, in hunger and thirst, in cold and in meditation.

And it came to pass that the old designing enemy of mankind, beholding this disciple of Christ flourishing with the different flowers of the virtues, began to envy him, as he envies other holy men, sending frequently amidst his cogitations the vanities of the world, the bitterness of his existence, the solitariness of his situation, and the various troubles of the desert. But the aforesaid man of God, conscious of the venom of the crooked serpent, did, by continual prayer, repeated fastings, and holy meditations, cast forth, through the grace of God, all his temptations. Whereupon the enemy rose upon him in all his might, both secretly and openly waging with him a visible conflict. And while the assaults of his foe became day by day more grievous, he had to sustain a very great want of water. Wandering about the neighbouring places, he discovered a spring in a valley not far from his dwelling, towards the west, and near unto it he made for himself a cottage, and built an oratory in honour of God and the Blessed Virgin. There, wearing away the sufferings of his life, laudably, in the service of God, he departed happily to God, from out of the prison-house of the body.”

The well is a delightfully rustic one and certainly contains old stonework if not from the hermit’s time than the period of the Abbey. It is an oval structure with eight stones around the mouth, a three foot rectangular stone covers half of the well and has a semi-circular cut placed in the middle. Mossy steps lead from the higher end of the garden into the little dell where the well arises. The well has been dressed in the early 2000s but has now disappeared into obscurity. Indeed, some believe that it is does not exist in the first place…


First noted in 1350 in association with the legend of the foundation of the Abbey, Hope (1893) notes it was curative and was a wishing well; being visited on Good Friday, between twelve and three o’clock, water being drunk three times.



  1. Hope, Robert Charles (1893), Legendary Lore of the Holy Wells of England, Elliott Stock: London.
  2. Parish, R.B. (2008), Holy wells and healing springs of Derbyshire.

Copyright © Ross Parish

Eyam Cross, Eyam, Derbyshire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference — SK 2178 7639

Getting Here

The village of Eyam is located some 9 miles south-east of Chapel-en-le-Frith and about the same from Sheffield, which lies to the north-east. Go to the centre of the village and find the church of St Lawrence standing beside the road to Foolow close to Eyam Hall and just west of the B6521 road to Sheffield.  The Saxon cross stands in the churchyard.

History and Folklore

Eyam Cross, east face (from Wikipedia)

This very fine Anglo-Saxon (Mercian) cross stands 8 foot tall and dates from the 8th-9th centuries. It was apparently set up by missionaries from the north at Cross Low on the moors to the west of Eyam. Originally it was a wayside preaching cross that was 10 feet high and certainly must have looked very spectacular, but now it is only 8 feet high due to it being knocked about a bit in more recent times and losing one of its shaft sections. In the 18th century the cross was discovered beside a trackway on the moors, from whence it was brought to the churchyard of St Lawrence’s church;  but then for a long time it stood abandoned and uncared for in the corner of the churchyard. Eventually  it was restored and placed in the churchyard where it now stands proudly.

The cross is said to be the only one of its type in the Midlands that retains its cross-head. It has some very rich decoration on the west face with fabulous interlacing scroll-work running up the shaft that is typically Mercian in origins. On the west-face, especially the upper section, there are human figures probably St Mary the Virgin with the baby Jesus, angels and Christ in glory, each in their own sections or panels. The cross is grade 1 listed.  St Lawrence’s church houses a Saxon font.


  1. Rev. Arthur, C., Illustrated Notes on English Church History, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge: London 1901.
  2. Rodgers, Frank, Curiosities of Derbyshire and the Peak District, Derbyshire Countryside Ltd 2000.

Copyright ©  Ray Spencer 2011 

Potlock Cursus, Willington, Derbyshire

Cursus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SK 314 287 to SK 321 289

Also known as:

  1. Findern Cursus
  2. Findern-Willington Cursus
  3. Potlocks Cursus
  4. Twyford Cursus

Archaeology & History

Destroyed by the usual mixture of intensive farming practices and the self-righteous advance of industrialism, this cursus of many names was discovered thanks to aerial survey photographs taken in the early 1960s.  Found only 6½ miles west of the Aston Cursus and constructed on level ground on the north side of the River Trent next to B5009 road between Twyford village and Willington.  I think the site was first described by J.K. St. Joseph (1966) in his notes on air reconnaissance finds, in which he described the site,

“So far the parallel ditches, some 220ft apart, defining the cursus have been identified on an east to west alignment across three fields for a length of some 1800ft.  This may well be only fraction of the total length of the monument, which probably extended westwards towards the new power station at Willington.  Three ring-ditches, one lying within the cursus, and two to the north, as well as a rectangular enclosure, have also been recorded.”

There was probably more to be discovered here, he thought.  And so the following year the first dig into one section of the site was made, and again in 1969.  A synopsis of this and subsequent excavation work have been reported on the PastScape website which tells:

“The cursus has been traced for a distance of at least 1560 metres, lying near the edge of the flood-plain of the Trent. Excavations in 1994-5 in advance of work on a bypass recovered Peterborough Ware sherds close to the bottom of the southern cursus ditch. Charred organic remains were also present, from which radiocarbon dates are to be sought. The excavations also uncovered a causeway between 10.5 and 19 metres in length through the northern ditch. Within this causeway were a cluster of short linear features and a post hole, all presumably evidence for controlling access into the monument. Another break in the northern ditch was shown to have been created to accommodate the course of a stream, which still runs through it. The 1994-5 excavations also confirmed that the 1969 excavations had in fact found a series of natural features which were mistakenly interpreted as representing the cursus ditches… At the south-western limit of the cursus cropmarks the southern ditch appears to have been recut and possibly reused at a later stage as a double ditched trackway…”


  1. St. Joseph, J.K., “Air Reconnaissance: Recent Result, 6,” in Antiquity journal, volume 40, no.157, March 1966.
  2. Wheeler, Hazel, “The Findern Cursus,” in Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, volume 90, 1970.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian