Bell Stane, Queensferry, Midlothian

Legendary Stone (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NT 1292 7840

Bell Stane on 1896 map

Bell Stane on 1896 map

Archaeology & History

An intriguing site that needs adding to the Northern Antiquarian due to the foraging research of the Edinburgh historian Stuart Harris (1996).  Although the Bell Stane has been ascribed by the Canmore researchers to be just,

“a stone near the Mercat Cross on which the hand bell was set (rung to herald the opening of the weekly market or annual fair),”

Mr Harris dug deeper and found other references which led him to think that the site was “a conspicuous boulder or standing stone.”  I have to agree with him.  In his outstanding work on the historical place-names of Edinburgh and district, Harris wrote:

“The Bellstane…is noted on Ordnance Survey 1854 as the name of an object just outwith the burgh boundary and in the southwest corner of the little square that now bears the name.  Whilst it has been surmised that it was a stone named for a handbell rung beside it on market days, in point of fact a burgh council meeting of 1642 (quoted in Morison’s Queensferry, p.131) records that a piece of ground hitherto waste and unused, within the burgh but near the bellstane, was to be set aside for markets and fairs in times coming; and the clear inference is that the name belonged to the stone before any markets were held near it.  In absence of a reliable description of the stone or of early forms of its name, the origin of the name can only be guessed at.  Similar names (of sites) in Kirknewton and Whitburn are no better documented, but the early forms of Belstane in Lanarkshire (BellitstaneBellistaneBelstane and Bellstane prior to 1329 and Beldstanein 1452) suggest that its first part may be Anglian ballede or early Scots bellit (from a Celtic root, ball, white), making the name ‘the stone with a white or pale patch or stripe on it’ — such as one with a band of quartz running through it.  A conspicuous boulder or standing stone of this sort on this spur of higher ground above the shore would have been a useful meith or landing mark for boats making for the narrow landing place at the Binks.”

If anyone uncovers additional evidence about this Bell Stane that can affirm it as a standing stone (or otherwise), we will amend its status.

References:

  1. Harris, Stuart, The Place-Names of Edinburgh: Their Origins and History, Gordon Wright: Edinburgh 1996.
  2. Morison, Alexander, Historical Notes on the Ancient and Royal Burgh of Queensferry, West Lothian Courier: Bathgate 1927.
  3. Orrock, Thomas, Fortha’s Lyrics and other Poems, privately printed: Edinburgh 1880.

© Paul Bennett,  The Northern Antiquarian 2016

 

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  55.990624, -3.397520 Bell Stane

Mercat Cross, Clackmannan, Clackmannanshire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference – NS 91109 91890

Also Known as:

  1. Burgh Cross
  2. Canmore ID 48318
  3. Clackmannan Cross
  4. Market Cross
Cross on the 1886 map

Getting Here

Take the A907 road between Alloa and Kincardine, and up the B910 into Clackmannan.  To get into the village, depending on which route you’re heading in, go up the Kirk Wynd or the Cattle Market—both of which lead you to the Main Street where, right next to the huge erection known as the Stone of Mannan you’ll see the old Cross on its steps.Getting Here

Archaeology & History

When the Royal Commission (1933) lads wrote about the site in their early survey, they called it the Burgh Cross, telling:Found in association with the village Tolbooth and the more famous Stone of Mannan, this probable 16th century cross stands at the meeting of the four lanes at the centre of the village in the heart of Clackmannanshire.  It was the focal point of an annual market fair which, said Craig Mair (1988), “could last up to eight days”.  It was the meeting place of local villagers where legal issues were called and settled, where bonds and deeds were made and, in all probability, replaced an earlier non-christian monument.

The Mercat Cross
Millers 1889 sketch

“Although the stepped base has been renewed, the shaft is original.  It is 9 feet 6 inches in height and is octagonal in section, measuring 11 inches in diameter.  The capital is moulded and has on the east side a shield enclosed by swags and bearing a saltire and chief, for Bruce.  A second shield, carved on the west side, has apparently been similarly charged, but is now very weatherworn.  The ball finial on the capital was removed in 1857, but replaced in 1897.”

The reference to the chief, Bruce, is said by tradition to be that of Robert the Bruce.  This element in the cross’ history has been transposed mistakenly by early english writers onto the adjacent Stone of Mannan.

Cross & Mannan’s Stone

In recent times both the cross and the Stone of Mannan were repaired, at a staggering cost of £160,000.  How the hell it cost that much is anybody’s guess – but it certainly sounds as if someone’s pockets would have been bulging!

References:

  1. Mair, Craig, Mercat Cross and Tolbooth, John Donald: Edinburgh 1988.
  2. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the Counties of Fife, Kinross and Clackmannan, HMSO: Edinburgh 1933.
  3. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Clackmannan District and Falkirk District, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 1978.
  4. Simpkins, John Ewart, County Folklore – volume VII: Examples of Printed Folk-Lore Concerning Fife, with some Notes on Clackmannan and Kinross-Shires, Folk-Lore Society: London 1914.
  5. Small, John W., Scottish Market Crosses, Eneas Mackay: Stirling 1900.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.107301, -3.752423 Mercat Cross

Town Cross, Alloa, Clackmannanshire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference – NS 88559 92686

Also Known as:

  1. Burgh Cross
  2. Canmore ID 47169
  3. Market Cross
  4. Mercat Cross

Getting Here

Alloa Cross, Bank Street

Get into the small town of Alloa, where the buses stand at Shillinghill.  From here walk southwest down Mill Street, which runs into Bank Street.  Keep your eyes peeled on your right-hand side, where outside one of the old municipal buildings you’ll see it standing upright.

Archaeology & History

Although now standing against the old buildings halfway down Bank Street, Alloa’s Mercat or Burgh Cross was initially set up at the crossroads 162 yards (148m) away, where Mar Street meets Mill Street and Bank Street.  It was moved to its present position sometime in the 1880s and knowledge of its early history is scant.

John Small’s sketch of Alloa Cross

Standing some 10 feet tall, the monument was described in John Small’s (1900) rare magnum opus, where he details the architectural features of the monument, telling:

“The shaft, which rests on a base and three steps, is of the usual square section, with splayed angles, stoped at top and bottom, the top stop being rather peculiar.  The head of the Cross is composed of an oblong stone set upright, characteristic of the late type seen in Keikleour and Kinrossie.  The oblong is ornamented at the sides with debased volutes and acanthus leaves, the whole crowned by a wreath from which rises a griffin’s head, part of the supporters of the Arms of the Lords of the Manor, Lord Mar and Kellie.”

References:

  1. Anonymous, The Alloa Illustrated Family Almanac, MacGregor & Steedman: Alloa 1887.
  2. Mair, Craig, Mercat Cross and Tolbooth, John Donald: Edinburgh 1988.
  3. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the Counties of Fife, Kinross and Clackmannan, HMSO: Edinburgh 1933.
  4. Small, John W., Scottish Market Crosses, Eneas Mackay: Stirling 1900.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.113903, -3.793763 Town Cross

Market Cross, Kincardine, Fife

Cross:  OS Grid Reference – NS 93120 87515

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 48126
  2. Mercat Cross

Getting Here

Old Market Cross, Kincardine
Old Market Cross, Kincardine

Dead easy to find. Get into the centre of the lovely little town centre of Kincardine, down High Street, and there upon its steps at the roadside, you can’t miss the it!

Archaeology & History

A few days ago when I came to have a look at this old cross (17th century according to the Royal Commission) it was surrounded by protective railings while some work was being done in the town centre.  Thankfully it was a glorious bright day and allowed for some good photos!

It is a typical mercat cross, as Mair (1988) called them: a stone pillar, mounted on steps, with some sort of crowning edifice on top.  The monument was described in the Royal Commission (1933) report of the region, where they wrote:

“The market cross stands at the southern end of High Street and consists of an octagonal shaft with moulded base and capital, placed on a rise of six octagonal steps, having a spread of 14½ feet.  Above the square abacus is a stone sculptured with the arms of the Earls of Kincardine on the one side and a thistle ornament on the other.  The arms are: Quarterly, 1st and 4th, a lion rampart; 2nd and 3rd, a saltire and chief.  The shield is flanked by two men in armour as supporters, is surmounted by a coronet and helm, mantled and wreathed, and has for crest a naked arm, flexed, issuing out of a cloud and holding a man’s heart.  The cross must be later than 26 December, 1647, when the Earldom was created.”

References:

  1. Beveridge, David, Culross and Tulliallan: Its History and Antiquities – 2 volumes, William Blackwood: Edinburgh 1885.
  2. Mair, Craig, Mercat Cross and Tolbooth, John Donald: Edinburgh 1988.
  3. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the Counties of Fife, Kinross and Clackmannan, HMSO: Edinburgh 1933.
  4. Small, John W., Scottish Market Crosses, Eneas Mackay: Stirling 1900.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

 

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  56.068485, -3.718342 Market Cross

Acrehowe Cross, Baildon Moor, West Yorkshire

Cross (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 14390 40601

Also Known as:

  1. Rerehowe Cross

Archaeology & History

‘Rerehowe’ cross on 1852 map

Once found on the other side of the road from the prehistoric circle of Acrehowe Hill, this old cross was destroyed sometime in the first half of the 19th century by one of the stewards to the Lady of the Manor of Baildon, a Mr Walker.  It’s unlikely that Mr Walker would have performed this act without direct orders from the Lady of the Manor, so the destruction should really be laid at the feet of the land-owner, who’ve got a habit of destroying archaeological sites up and down the land, even today.

Found near the crown of a small hill on the horizon whether you’re coming from Eldwick- or Baildon-side, the cross was erected (probably between the 12th and 14th centuries) amidst a cluster of heathen burials and cup-and-rings, many of which would have been known by local peasants as having old lore or superstitions about them.  So the church commandeered this spot, desacralized it and no doubt enacted profane rites around it under the auspice of some spurious christian law.  They did that sorta thing with every non-christian site they ever came across—or simply vandalised it, much as many of them still do today.  Sadly we know not the exact history of the old cross: whether it was an old standing stone on the crown of this hill which they defaced and made into a cross, or whether they erected their own monument, we’ll never know.  But the idea of a once-proud monolith standing here is a strong possibility, considering its position in the landscape and the stone rings of Pennythorn and Acrehowe close by (cup-and-ring stones such as carving no.184 are also close by).

The cross itself once gained an additional incorrect title by the cartographers of the period, who named it Rerehowe Cross—but this was simply a spelling mistake and its newly-found title didn’t last long. The local industrial historian William Cudworth (1876) described the lost cross in his large work, where he told that,

“many of the inhabitants can remember and point out the exact spot where it stood, and no doubt could find some of the stones of which it was composed. It was destroyed by one of the overseers and a large portion of it used for fence stones.”

Harry Speight (a.k.a. ‘Johnnie Gray’) and others also mentioned the passing of this old stone, but give no additional information.

Folklore

In William Cudworth’s description of this site he told how “the village tradition is that it was put up in commemoration of a great battle that was fought on the Moor” at Baildon; but W.P. Baildon (1913) thought this was unlikely.  Instead, he cited an 1848 Name Book reference dug out by W.E. Preston, which told that on the summit of Acrehowe Hill,

“Here stood a cross which, according to traditional evidence was erected at the period that markets were held at Baildon, in consequence of a plague which prevented the country people from visiting the village with provisions, etc.  The site of its base is very apparent, being circular, about 8 feet in diameter.  A large flag stone  with the stump of the cross remaining in its centre, was pulled up and destroyed by Mr Walker (Baildon Hall) a few years since.”

References:

  1. Baildon, W. Paley, Baildon and the Baildons (parts 1-15), St. Catherines: Adelphi 1913-26.
  2. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  3. Colls, J.M.N., ‘Letter upon some Early Remains Discovered in Yorkshire,’ in Archaeologia, volume 31, 1846.
  4. Cudworth, William, Round about Bradford, Thomas Brear: Bradford 1876.
  5. Gray, Johnnie, Through Airedale from Goole to Malham, Walker & Laycock: Leeds 1891.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Acrehowe Cross

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Acrehowe Cross 53.861433, -1.782688 Acrehowe Cross

Bel Stane, Causewayhead, Stirling, Stirlingshire

Standing Stone (destroyed?):  OS Grid Reference – NS 805 958

Archaeology & History

Nearly a hundred years ago Christina Buchan told the local writer Donald Morris (1935) about this seemingly forgotten and lost megalithic site.  The narrative she gave told:

“I remember a stone which was known among the Causewayhead people as the Bel Stane. (The name is significant)  It originally stood in the Doocot Park on Spittal Farm.  This park overlooks the high road from Causewayhead to Bridge of Allan and adjoins the steading of Spittal… When the road leading up through the village of Causewayhead was formed (about 1820), the garden of William Robb’s cottage near the foot of the Broad Loan was somewhat altered in shape.  He put up a new gate and, requiring a gatepost, he lifted the Bel Stane from Doocot Park and set it up at the front of his own house to support the gate.  It was a stone of pillar-shape and stood four or five feet above the ground, and I do not remember whether they were any markings on it.  The cottage became ruinous many years ago and the garden ran waste.  A new house is now built on the site, but the Bel Stane has been lost.”

There is a possible contender for the lost Bel Stane, used again as another gatepost, on the south-side of the road some 450 yards to the east (at NS 80922 95931).  The stone in question is somewhat fatter than usual gateposts, about four-feet tall, and has the eroded appearance of considerably greater age than many others.  The monolith isn’t mentioned in the Royal Commission’s Stirlingshire inventory. Further information would be very welcome.

References:

  1. Morris, David, B., ‘Causewayhead a Hundred Years Ago’, in Transactions of the Stirling Natural History and Archaeological Society, 1935.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.139917, -3.924198 Bel Stane

Pathfoot Stone, Airthrey, Stirling, Stirlingshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NS 80604 96871

Also Known as:

  1. Airthrey Castle West
  2. Canmore ID 47166

Getting Here

Not too troublesome to locate really… It’s at the top-end of the University, just above the side of the small Hermitage Road, about 100 yards along.  Keep your eyes peeled to your left!

Archaeology & History

Pathfoot Stone

Today standing proud and upright, this ruinous standing stone has been knocked about in the last couple of hundred years.   Although we can clearly see that it’s been “fixed” in its present condition, standing more than 10 feet high, when the Royal Commission lads came here in August 1952 (as they reported in their utterly spiffing Stirlingshire (1963) inventory), it wasn’t quite as healthy back.  They reported:

“Many years ago the stone, which is of dark grey dolerite, fell down and was broken, and the basal portion, now re-erected, is only 3ft 10in high; two large fragments however, still lie beside the base, and the original stone is said to have stood to a height of 9ft 4in.  Of a more or less oblong section throughout, the re-erected stones measures 2ft 10in by 1ft 10in at ground level, swells to its greatest dimensions (3ft 2 in by 1ft 9in) at a height of 1ft 4in, and diminishes at the top…”

…and again!

But the scenario got even worse, cos after the Royal Commission boys had measured it up and did their report, it was completely removed!  Thankfully, following pressure from themselves and the help of the usual locals, the stone was stood back upright in the position we can see it today.  And — fingers crossed — long may it stay here!

Folklore

Commemorative plaque!

A plaque that accompanies the monolith tells that the old village of Pathfoot itself was actually “built around this standing stone” — which sounds more like it was the ‘centre’ or focus of the old place.  An omphalos perhaps?  The additional piece of lore described in Menzies (1905) work, that an annual cattle fair was held here,  indicates it as an ancient site of trade, as well as a possible gathering stone: folklore that we find is attributed to another standing stone nearby.

References:

  1. Fergusson, R. Menzies, Logie: A Parish History – volume 1, Alexander Gardner: Paisley 1905.
  2. Hutchinson, A.F., “The Standing Stones of Stirling District,” in The Stirling Antiquary, volume 1, 1893.
  3. Hutchinson, A.F., “The Standing Stones and other Rude Monuments of Stirling District,” in Transactions of the Stirling Natural History and Antiquarian Society, 1893.
  4. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Stirlingshire – volume 1, HMSO: Edinburgh 1963.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.149593, -3.923424 Pathfoot Stone

Market Cross, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference – SJ 84857 45979

Archaeology & History

Market Cross, Newcastle-under-Lyme

The old town’s Market Cross can be seen outside the north end of the Guildhall, but originally it was opposite the Ironmarket up the High Street.  It was first built sometime in the medieval period (exact year seems to be unknown), but required some restoration work on it in 1579, which was organized by the town Mayor: a Mr Randle Bagnall at the time.  It’s thought that the five steps upon which it stood were also erected around this time.  However, these steps and the cross were moved a few years before 1820 and then resurrected by the Guildhall.  The curious standard lamps were also added to the top of the cross when this restoration work was done.

References:

  1. Kennedy, J. (ed.), Newcastle-under-Lyme: A Town Portrait, Newcastle Civic Society 1984.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Market Cross

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Market Cross 53.010910, -2.227134 Market Cross

Market Cross, Keighley, West Yorkshire

Cross: OS Grid Reference – SE 06042 41002

Getting Here

Dead easy this one!  Go along North Street in Keighley, towards the main church in the middle of town (a St. Andrew’s church, previously St. Pete), by the once-infamous Lord Rodney pub, and the old stone edifice stands outside by the Green.  The much better Red Pig public house is across the road from here.

Archaeology & History

Keighley's Town Cross, 1847 - illustrated on a painting by Edwin Riby
Keighley’s Town Cross, 1847 – on a painting by Edwin Riby

For a relatively trivial archaeological site, it’s got a bittova history.  Not that this is an old site either!  We’re not sure just when this cross was made, but it’s certainly no more than 300 years old.  Before standing in its present position outside St. Andrew’s Church, sometime before 1840 it was said to have been a few hundred yards away above the present roundabout on Oakworth Road; and one record tells that it originally came from nearby Utley, a mile to the north.  Due to lack of decent records, we’re not sure about its early status as a market cross, nor when it was first erected.  Indeed, even the steps on which the cross presently stands are clearly more recent than the ones illustrated on Edwin Riby’s 1847 portrait, reproduced here.

Keighley Cross, on a grey wet day!
Keighley Cross, on a grey wet day!

It would be good to get a complete history of this archaeological relic but it’s difficult with artifacts such as these; and although gaining access to the church now takes less time and effort than it used to (the vicar here used to be quite unhelpful, but has recently changed his ways – which is good!), it’s only open at certain times of the week.*  Friday afternoons seem OK to have a look round.  Please – if folk begin having trouble gaining access to the Church once more, let us know on here so we can make complaints about it.  The Church is paid for by local tax-payer’s cash, and so needs to be open to all of us.  Let’s hope this humble ingredient can be maintained for the good of all in this otherwise regressive social community (Keighley, that is…).

There’s also some very curious folklore to be added here in relation to the market and its cross, but its tale is gonna have to wait…

References:

  1. Gray, Johnnie, Through Airedale, from Goole to Malham, Elliott Stock: London 1891.
  2. Keighley, William, Keighley, Past and Present, R. Aked: Keighley 1858.

* There isn’t even a notice giving information, email or phone numbers, telling you who you can contact if you want to know anything about the history of the church, or visit it — which is quite dreadful considering how much money they get paid by tax-payers for their supposed socio-spiritual duties.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Keighley cross

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Keighley cross 53.865199, -1.909609 Keighley cross