Ancient Monuments

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Bowl barrow and wayside cross WSW of Pilsley

A Scheduled Monument in Pilsley, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.2337 / 53°14'1"N

Longitude: -1.6496 / 1°38'58"W

OS Eastings: 423487.287813

OS Northings: 370793.73847

OS Grid: SK234707

Mapcode National: GBR 57M.9RH

Mapcode Global: WHCD1.MZPD

Entry Name: Bowl barrow and wayside cross WSW of Pilsley

Scheduled Date: 25 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009290

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23361

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Pilsley

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Edensor St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument is a bowl barrow surmounted by the base of a medieval wayside
cross. Formerly the cross would also have included a shaft and a cross head
but these are now missing, possibly as a result of 16th or 17th century
The barrow comprises a low, roughly circular mound of earth and stones
measuring 7.5m by 7m and standing 0.3m high. Its form and hilltop location,
together with its proximity to other barrows on Calton Pasture, indicate a
probable Bronze Age date.
The cross base or socle is a finely dressed sandstone block with three sloping
sides and one vertical side and a rectangular socket hole measuring 30cm by
27cm by 15cm deep. It stands c.35cm high and measures 65cm by 55cm at the
base, tapering to 45cm square. Locally it is known as the Christening Stone
and is located in Stump Cross Field. It is also the subject of several local
legends, one of which indicates that it was moved to the village in the
18th or 19th century but was replaced in its original position after bad luck
afflicted its subsequent owners. Approximately 100m downhill from the socle is
a roughly dressed post of the same sandstone which, it has been suggested, is
the original shaft. This seems unlikely due to the contrasting neatness of the
socle and the fact that the depth of the socket hole suggests a shaft of
greater height. Also, one face of the post is cut at an angle suggesting that
it may have been part of a squeeze-through stile. The barrow and cross base
are situated next to an ancient right of way which leads through the village
of Pilsley, linking up with roads from Bakewell and Baslow. Its location on an
established route between settlements suggests that one possible function of
the cross was to mark the route for churchgoers or to act as a place where the
coffin could be set down during funeral processions.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments
dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most
examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as
earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple
burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often
acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar,
although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form
and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl
barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring
across most of lowland Britain. Often occupying prominent locations, they are
a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable
variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important
information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early
prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period
and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of

The bowl barrow WSW of Pilsley is apparently undisturbed and retains intact
archaeological remains throughout. Its later function as the site of a
medieval wayside cross is also of interest and further adds to its importance.
Wayside crosses are one of several types of Christian cross erected during the
medieval period, mostly from the 9th to the 15th centuries AD. In addition to
serving the function of reiterating and reinforcing the Christian faith
amongst those who passed the cross and of reassuring the traveller, wayside
crosses often fulfilled a role as waymarkers, especially in difficult or
otherwise unmarked terrain. The crosses might be on regularly used routes
linking ordinary settlements or on routes having a more specifically religious
function, including those providing access to religious sites for parishioners
and funeral processions or marking long-distance routes frequented on
Over 350 wayside crosses are known nationally, concentrated in south west
England throughout Cornwall and Dartmoor where they form the commonest type of
stone cross. A small group also occurs on the North York Moors but relatively
few examples have been recorded elsewhere and these are generally confined to
remote moorland locations. In Cornwall, the commonest form is the round or
wheel-headed cross, but elsewhere almost all wayside crosses take the form of
a `Latin' cross in which the cross head itself is shaped with the projecting
arms of an unenclosed cross. The cross heads and shafts may be unadorned or
may be ornamented with decorative carved panels and religious iconography.
Most wayside crosses have either a simple socketed base or show no evidence
for a separate base at all.
Wayside crosses contribute significantly to our understanding of medieval
religious customs and sculptural traditions and to our knowledge of medieval
routeways and settlement patterns. All wayside crosses which survive as
earthfast monuments, except those which are extremely damaged and removed from
their original locations, are considered worthy of protection.
Although only the base of the Pilsley cross survives, that component is
extremely well-preserved and is important evidence of a wayside cross outside
the main distribution areas which does not conform to the usual function of
serving as a waymarker across inhospitable terrain.

Source: Historic England


Barnatt, John, (1994)
Shackleton Hill, Angela, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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