Handsome Cross Circle, High Bradfield, South Yorkshire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SK 26 94

Archaeology & History

This lost ring of stones was one many sites that could once be found in this area.  It was written about in John Watson’s (1776) essay on the local antiquities, where, in describing places he thought were druidical remains (like the prehistoric Bar Dike and Apronful of Stones cairn), he told that

“There is something also of this sort on the other side of Bardike on Bradfield Common; in particular a circle of about eight yards diameter composed of twelve stones, and a confused heap in the centre, near Handsome Cross, and the faint remains of two larger not far off.”

Subsequent local historians like Joseph Hunter (1819) and Harold Armitage (1939) mention the place, with Armitage giving the impression that remains of it could be seen in his lifetime, but today we are at a loss to known its exact position and nature.  By the sound of Watson’s initial description, this circle sounded as if a cairn of some sort was in the centre, giving it more a funerary nature than an open stone circle.  But we don’t know for certain. This is also what John Barnatt (1990) posited in his local survey.

Based on the landscape, an initial analysis would place the circle most probably at SK 2615 9424, close to where the Handsome Cross itself stood—but this is conjectural.  The natural landscape hereby has been ruined by extensive farming and forestry, so any remains of it seem improbable.

References:

  1. Armitage, Harold, Early Man in Hallamshire, Sampson Low: London 1939.
  2. Barnatt, John, Stone Circles of Britain – volume 2, BAR: Oxford 1989.
  3. Barnatt, John, The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, University of Sheffield 1990.
  4. Hunter, Joseph, Hallamshire: The History and Topography of the Parish of Sheffield, Lackington: London 1819.
  5. Morgan, Paul & Vicki, Rock around the Peak, Sigma 2001.
  6. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire – volume 1, Cambridge University Press 1961.
  7. Watson, John, “An Account of some Hitherto Undescribed Remains of Antiquity“, in Archaeologia, volume 5, 1776.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Handsome Cross circle

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Handsome Cross circle 53.444408, -1.607665 Handsome Cross circle

Apronful of Stones, Bradfield, South Yorkshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – SK 2448 9459

Archaeology & History

Apronful of Stones on 1855 map

This was another example of the many giant cairns that scatter the upland moors on the Pennines, but much of it has been destroyed, with some halfwits in recent years cutting a track right through whatever remains there might have been!  It was first described in John Watson’s (1776) essay on the local antiquities of Bradfield and district where, in relative conjunction with the curious Bar Dike, he told that “this is not the only curiosity on this common.”  He continued: “there is on one part of it a large carnedde, called by the country people the Apron-full of Stones”, where he conjectured there laid a British tribal chief after he’d been slaughtered by the Romans.  This might have been the folklore of the place, but we know such places were thousands of years earlier than the Romans.

It was later described in Joseph Hunter’s Hallamshire (1819) as a giant barrow, or ‘vast carnedde’, even then in the past tense; but some recent investigation here found “a few small stones and some lumpy turf which looked to be covering a few clumped stones.”  The site requires further investigation by local people to assess the state of damage inflicted on this once great tomb.

Folklore

Said to have been the site of a local battle in ancient times; this is also another site which, as A.H. Smith (1961) tells, “is explained in folklore by tales of the devil undertaking some major building project and tripping up, only to deposit his apronful of stones” here.  Does anyone out there have any more info on this place?

References:

  1. Hunter, Joseph, Hallamshire: The History and Topography of the Parish of Sheffield in the County of York, Lackington: London 1819.
  2. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Cambridge University Press 1961-63.
  3. Watson, John, “An Account of some Hitherto Undescribed Remains of Antiquity”, in Archaeologia, volume 5, 1776.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Apronful of Stones

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Apronful of Stones 53.447510, -1.633040 Apronful of Stones

Handsome Cross, High Bradfield, South Yorkshire

Cross (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SK 2612 9417

Also Known as:

  1. Hanson Cross

Archaeology & History

Handsome Cross on 1855 map
Handsome Cross on 1855 map

Described in Joseph Hunter’s (1819) rare work as being close to a now-lost stone circle, this wayside cross is shown on the earliest Ordnance Survey map of 1855 as being at the side of the old Penistone road, across from the guide-stoop which can still be seen.  The cross stood at a peak on the roadside which allowed it to be visible from either direction and probably stood on the ancient township boundary line.

In Neville Sharpe’s (2002) fine survey he found an early account of this lost relic from writings ascribed to one John Wilson, who lived between 1719 and 1783, which told that,

“Ann Hawley, an old woman who lived at Broomhead in 1700, says she remembers Hanson Cross having a head and arms.  The head is still there, but the arms I do not remember.”

References:

  1. Hunter, Joseph, Hallamshire: The History and Topography of the Parish of Sheffield, Lackington: London 1819.
  2. Sharpe, Neville T., Crosses of the Peak District, Landmark: Ashbourne 2002.
  3. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire – volume 1, Cambridge University Press 1961.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Handsome Cross

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Handsome Cross 53.443639, -1.608216 Handsome Cross