Coombe Hill Cross, Wycoller, Lancashire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference – SD 95586 38608

Also Known as:

  1. Combe Hill Cross

Getting Here

Coombe Hill Cross, Lancashire (photo credit, Ray Spencer)
Coombe Hill Cross, Lancashire (photo credit, Ray Spencer)

Along the high moorland road between Laneshaw Bridge up towards Oakworth, on the Lancashire side of the moors a half-mile before reaching the Watersheddles reservoir, past the derelict pub until you reach the isolated Coombe Cross farmhouse on the tops.  Across the road from here is a boggy footpath leading onto the moors.  Walk on here for 100 yards, where the path bends left and another footpath veers up higher onto the moors.  Walk up here for 20 yards and you’ll see the small monolith 10 yards away in the grassy heaths on your left.

Archaeology & History

Taylor's 1906 drawing
Taylor’s 1906 drawing

Found on the old route between the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire, this little-known wayside cross has seen better days.  Found in relative isolation from other monuments by the ancient trackway (Herder’s Cross is a mile WNW, and the curious Water Sheddles Cross a mile east), its history is quiet and it was ignored in the general surveys of such monuments by Rimmer (1875), Tyack (1900) and Vallance. (1920)  Thankfully the giant survey of Henry Taylor (1906) did not forget it—although he seemed to know little of its story, merely telling us,

“The base-stone and part of the upright shaft of this cross stand about one hundred yards in a south-easterly direction from (Far Combe Hill Cross)… Two hundred yards south of the Combe Hill Cross occur the words, ‘Cross Bent.'”

Coombe Hill Cross (photo by Ray Spencer)
Coombe Hill Cross (photo by Ray Spencer)

The near-square stone base—about 3 feet by 3 feet—is commonly ascribed as medieval in origin and it’s thought that the remaining upright cross-stump—over 2 feet high—is probably not the original one. When fellow antiquarian Ray Spencer visited the site recently, he reported there to be “a faint inscription on the base saying COMBE HILL CROSS.”

The most detailed account of this monument was to be found in Clifford Byrne’s (1974) unpublished paper on the antiquities of the region, where he wrote:

“The pedestal of this cross with a piece of stone sitting in it which may or may not be part of the original monolith is situated on a wayside hillock… On passing the Herders Inn above Emmot, scrutiny of the left hand side of the road at the top of the next rise ahead opposite a white farmhouse will show what looks like a stumpy finger pointing to the sky.  Close inspection will show that at the site sits the pedestal of a cross, apparently settled on two steps.  Note that the pedestal and the supporting stones beneath have a remarkable resemblance to Carlton Cross which stands on Cross Green between Tom Cross Ainslack and Carleton village near Skipton.  It may be that both monoliths were erected by the same hands.  Whether the supporting blocks beneath the pedestal were for purposes of kneeling, or merely to stop the edifice sinking into the moor is…open to dispute.  An ancient track passes the cross site where it splits into two: one going east towards Keighley and  the other going south towards Haworth by Watersheddles Cross.  A continuation of the track westwards travels along the foot of Boulsworth Hill past Iron Age burials,* along a fine set of pack horse setts, past standing stones, old lime kilns, and eventually leaving behind some remains of the Wycoller Vaccary stones near Antly Gate Farm.  It tops the brow of a hill and drops down through Thursden by the Cold Well itself a a little green gate in the reservoir wall. Marquis of Colne suggested that the Combe Hill Cross dates from the time of King Stephen in the 12th century, but does not say on what he based his surmise…. If the origin of the stone is dated correctly, it has stood near Colne for over 800 years.”

References:

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

These Iron Age burials may be Bronze Age as we have found remains of several hut circles dating from that period in this area. PB.

AcknowledgementsHuge thanks to Ray Spencer for use of his photos and additional data for this site profile.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Coombe Hill cross

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Coombe Hill cross 53.843710, -2.068559 Coombe Hill cross

Lowlands Well, Wycoller, Lancashire

Healing Well:  OS Grid Reference – SD 9317 3944

Archaeology & History

Lowlands Well

The huge stone trough at the side of the Wycoller Beck further down than the old bridge had a pipe leading to it from a spring on the other side of the beck.  Cookson & Hindle (1974) told that this was “the only source of drinking water” — which wasn’t quite true.  In the old photo shown here, the groove in the supporting vertical stone once held a lid over the top of the trough, “to prevent animals, dead leaves, etc, from fouling it.”  In addition to the old photo shown here, the well is also illustrated in Folley’s Romantic Wycoller (1949) with two young girls drinking the running water.

References:

  1. Bentley, John, Portrait of Wycoller, Nelson Local History Society 1975.
  2. Cookson, Stanley & Hindle, Herbert, Wycoller Country Park, H. Hindle: Colne 1974.
  3. Folley, E.W., Romantic Wycoller, Coulton & Co.: Nelson 1949.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Lowlands Well

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Lowlands Well 53.851124, -2.105248 Lowlands Well

Ratten Clough Cross, Emmott Moor, Lancashire

Cross Base:  OS Grid Reference – SD 93997 39746

Getting Here

Ratten Clough Cross stone

Follow the directions to reach the Herder’s Cross, not far away.  Standing on the Herder’s Cross stone, look across the fields to the north (away from the farmhouse on the hill below) and you’ll see a nice-looking stream a coupla hundred yards ahead of you.  Crossing this stream you see the large boulder, which you can see clearly if you’re stood on the Herder’s Cross.  That’s where you’re heading!

Archaeology & History

A curious entry inasmuch as I’ve found no other references to the place.  It’s an obvious cross-base, albeit very worn, cut onto the top of this large boulder, as you can see in the photo.  What may be a singular cup-marking (if you’re a New-ager, or work for English Heritage that is!) is on the western side of the rock — but without additional markings on the rock, this has gotta be questionable.

Dodgy cup-marking on top!
Shallow cross-base

The cut ‘square’ measures eight-inches both sides, but it seems that the cutting on the north-eastern sides of the base was never finished.  The depth of the cross-base is also very shallow, only an inch deep.  There seems to be a distinct possibility that this particular stone was initially chosen as a wayside cross marker, then for some reason perhaps moved to the position of the Herder’s Cross in the fields 420 yards (383m) to the south of here.

Clifford Byrne (1974) suggested that the pathway hereby was an ancient routeway that led towards the Emmot Holy Well, three-quarters of a half-mile down the hillside from here.  Any further info or thoughts on this side would be most welcome.

References:

  1. Byrne, Clifford, A Survey of the Wayside Crosses in North East Lancashire, unpublished manuscript, 1974.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.853908, -2.092741 Ratten Clough Cross

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

Great Moss Standing Stone, Emmott Moor, Lancashire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SD 969 384

Getting Here

Great Moss Stone - looking north
Great Moss Stone – looking NE

Follow the directions to the Water Sheddles Cross Standing Stone on the Yorkshire-Lancashire border; and when you get to the reservoir, walk straight across the road and head almost straight up onto the moor as if you’re going to the rock outcrop ahead of you on the horizon, called the Wolf Stones.  After just a couple of hundred yards though, amble back and forth to find the stone.  It’s in the heather, close by.

Archaeology & History

Great Moss Stone - looking NW
Great Moss Stone – looking NW

I can find no history about this small stone, just over three feet high, which was almost lost in the boggy heather when I first came here.  Standing in a small pool in the peaty-ground, the stone is very worn, with one of Nature’s cup-markings on top.  There is the possibility that this stone may have been one of the old boundary markers pre-dating the 1614 case which questioned the exact boundary line marking the Yorkshire-Lancashire border — but this is purely hypothetical.  The Water Sheddles Cross is just a few hundred yards east of here.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Great Moss stone

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Great Moss stone 53.840778, -2.049268 Great Moss stone

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

Brink Ends Cairn, Dovestones Moor, Wycoller, Lancashire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – SD 96138 42296

Getting Here

Best way to get up here is to start from the old hall and haunted bridge at Wycoller. From here walk upstream, on the footpath on the south side. It wibbles about following the waters for a half-mile until the moors open up when you reach an old stile, past which is another bridge over the stream. Walk past this (keep on the same side) for another 50 yards, then walk up the hillside where, if the vegetation is low, you can just see a decent-sized collection of rocks. This is the old cairn.

Archaeology & History

I don’t think the site is in the Lancashire archaeological register, but it’s described in John Bentley’s fine local history work, Portrait of Wycoller from 1975. He told that,

“a suspected Bronze Age burial mound at Brink Ends in Wycoller was excavated by Stanley Cookson in 1971 and 1972. Although no interment was discovered, the remains of a fire was found in the centre of the mound with half-burnt twigs and coal.”

Brink Ends Cairn, Wycoller

It’s not unlike some of the giant cairns on Ilkley Moor and elsewhere, though not as big, nor as high, being only about 22-24 feet across. Some of the stones have evidently been taken for use in the local walling, and the ‘cairn’ is in a pretty abject state. It’s a bittova odd spot to be honest. Not 100% sure what to make of it – though flints, arrowheads and similar implements have been found on the moors here close by. Bentley (1975) also told how “Stanley Cookson had strong suspicions that an Iron Age settlement existed in this area, but only time and further exploration will tell.” A sentiment I tend to agree with. And on our first and only visit here — during one helluvan awesome downpour all day — what seemed like an Iron Age hut circle was noted a few hundred yards to the south; though we got so saturated that day that we decided to turn for home soon after looking at this cairn.

Cookson and Hindle (1985) later described this site as a “middle Bronze Age burial cairn of 1400 to 900 BC, adding:

“The 34ft diameter inner circle was excavated during 1956-58 disclosing flints, a hearth with an abundance of charcoal, and four pieces of coal on a round, heavily burnt stone.”

More visits to these moors to check for other archaeological sites are needed in the near future to see what else might be on these unexplored moors.

References:

  1. Bentley, John, Portrait of Wycoller, Nelson Local History Society 1975.
  2. Cookson, Stanley & Hindle, Herbert, Wycoller Country Park, H.Hindle: Colne 1985.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Brink Ends cairn

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Brink Ends cairn 53.836933, -2.092187 Brink Ends cairn