Cross: OS Grid Reference – SD 91460 27280
Also Known as:
- Idol Cross
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
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.”
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…
- Bennett, P., The Old Stone Crosses of West Yorkshire, unpublished MS, 1995.
- Boswell, Geoff, On the Tops around Todmorden, Delta G: Todmorden 1986.
- Lofthouse, Jessica, North Country Folklore, Hale: London 1976.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian
The Northern Antiquarian – Charity Number SCO-46359