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Category: Monuments

An upstanding feature, but not a building. Examples include crosses, gravestones, burial chambers, obelisks, signposts and postboxes.

The Calderstones in their new location

Calder Stones: a new, more accessible, home

The Calder Stones have a troubled history, even for a site that’s about 5000 years old. While it’s escaped complete destruction like many of its Irish Sea cousins, there are many of these Neolithic sites which aren’t doing too badly. Even those completely denuded of their turf, soil and/or cobble mound stand proud in fields across Wales, Ireland and Scotland, the chamber more or less intact.

The Calder Stones, on the other hand, have had the sand in their mound re-recycled for cement, and their stones (both the main stones and cobbles in the mound) crushed and used for road-building material. Then the remainder were torn from their original arrangement and turned into an aesthetically pleasing (to the owner at the time, Joseph Need Walker) ‘druidical’ circle.

Then in 1954 they were put on ‘display’ in a glass vestibule, the only remnants of the extensive glasshouses that once graced Calderstones Park. This protected them from the weather, but the enclosed glasshouse meant that their condition continued to deteriorate. Visitors could only look in through the scratched semi-opaque glass, and as a visitor attraction they were largely forgotten.

The vestibule today, where once were stones

Letting silent stones speak again

One unexpected consolation prize after all this movement was that – so little being known about their original position and arrangement – there was very little further to lose in their conservation and re-presentation. All options could be put on the table.

The new home for the Calderstones opened in September 2019, and I visited in mid-October. How has the visitor experience changed? In a word, the new setting is unrecognisable compared to the old.

Whereas before the stones were locked away in a glass box, at least two metres from the viewer, you can now walk right up to them and between them.

The Calderstones in their new location
The Calder Stones in their new protected environment

The six surviving stones are arranged in two parallel rows. This is meant to be a nod to their original passage tomb shape, but as the relative positions of the stones are not known, the Reader Organisation and the rest of the team were free to choose the order. I’m not sure how it was decided, but if I hear about I’ll add it to this article.

It’s a great solution to the eternal archaeological reconstruction puzzle: do you pick a moment in history to reconstruct? And how do you represent the more recent history? When the Calder Stones were sat in a circle on Calderstones Road, that became part of their history, and is a point of interest to those who study the monument. To try to place the Stones in their ‘original’ configuration would not only be impossible as there are so few left, but it would be as arbitrary a choice as the circular layout.

The parallel rows acknowledge our lack of information, while reflecting the part of the history we do know. They also increase physical access to the Stones.

The new experience

The first thing that strikes you when you arrive at the Calder Stones is how close you can get. There are no barriers between you and the rock faces, just a narrow line of slate between the path and the stone.

It goes without saying: you shouldn’t be reaching out to touch them. But you can certainly examine the stones’ surfaces, and explore them from every angle. You could try shining a torch on them from a shallow angle to highlight the relief patterns. This required special event access before.

You can walk around both sides of nearly all of the stones (one is too close to the glass, so you’ll need to go outside), examine the sides and the tops. You can truly examine the rock art.

State of the rock art

And as it’s the rock art that raises this monument above many of its relatives, this proximity makes all the difference.

No longer is the monument a pile (or ring) of stones to be looked at, gazed upon. It’s a gallery of human actions – everything from the shapes of the stones themselves, through the prehistoric cup and spiral markings, and the feet (bare and shod) from anywhere between the Neolithic, Medieval or modern periods. And don’t forget the graffiti initials!

In some way this feels closer to how the builders could have experienced it: a journey from one stone to the next, glyphs passing the eye. You’re no longer looking at the monument, you’re reading it.

Photo to show carved initials on stone
Those initials – know any JL from south Liverpool? 😉

I’m not sure of the decision behind the stones’ order, but it seemed to me like the stones were placed with most of the art facing inwards. This again might reflect the chamber’s original arrangement, but in any case it makes it easy to take it in in one big sweep.

This freedom to explore the stones surface leads to a tantalising possibility: will I find some new art? It’s been done, and recently! Alas, it was not to be this time, but I’m sure it won’t stop me trying each time I visit.

Here are some of my favourite carvings on the stones (click for larger versions):

You can also more closely look at the sandstone itself, for its own sake. Sandstone is a sedimentary rock, laid down at the base of an ancient sea. In south west Lancashire it’s especially red, and the ruddy layers can be seen on the edges of the stones.

It creates a link, a chain, between nature, the builders of this ancient structure and many of our buildings. Just take a look at the Anglican Cathedral, or St Peter’s Church in Woolton, nearby, and every garden wall for miles around. This is the living rock of Merseyside.

Photo demonstrating the natural sandstone making up the Calder Stones
The red sandstone of the Calder Stones can be found in buildings across Liverpool and beyond


As soon as I posted a couple of pictures on Twitter, the archaeologist Mike Pitts noticed the blackboard imploring people not to touch the stones.

It’s vital point to raise. All heritage projects need to decide on how much access to give to visitors. Perfect conservation can always be guaranteed by completely removing visitors, and if you’re Stonehenge, complete destruction can be ensured by allowing everyone to do what they want!

At the Calder Stones, the Reader organisation have put the stones in a lockable enclosure, with close-up access to them only when the house is open (though they can be seen through the glass at all times). As I replied to Mike, there’s a certain level of trust on display. Coupled with the low level of visitors and the museum-like feel of the place, I think this trust will be repaid. The Stones will no doubt be closely monitored, as will visitor activity, and time will tell us the effects.

I’m so glad they did things this way.

Visiting the Calder Stones

Next to the Calder Stones is a small exhibition placing them in the context of world history. A time-line shows them being built before the Pyramids in Egypt, and Stonehenge in Britain. As it’s the Reader, we’re also shown when various writing scripts began their use.

Another room has an exhibition on the house and estate itself, and the aforementioned Walker family. There are replica newspapers from the time, another time-line, and a slideshow of Victorian images of Calderstones. Finally there’s a café for refreshments, and a whole park to explore!

The mansion house is open every day from 8:30am to 7pm, so go along when you can and enjoy a slice of Scouse prehistory!

Image: the Calder Stones in their new location, taken by the author.

Photograph of a pipe at Hale Duck Decoy

Hale Duck Decoy

The Duck Decoy at Hale is an impressive, complex monument, now a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It lies in the lowest part of the landscape, amongst streams and wetlands and close the the River Mersey itself.

This part of the manor of Hale was drained in the medieval period, with the idea of increasing the amount of land suitable to plough. The trade-off was a reduction in land that wetland wildfowl could use. To counter this, the duck decoy was built.

Hale Decoy was designed to look like the many other coverts that dotted the landscape. The lack of shelter for water birds would make it an attractive spot. A pond was dug in the centre to complete the picture.

The distinctive star shape comes from the five pipes which allowed the game keeper to approach the pond from whichever direction he needed to to keep downwind of the fowl. The pipes were lined with wicker arches, joined together by nets. With the help of his dog, and strategically placed screens, the keeper would scare the birds down the pipes, the netting decreasing in width. At the pipes’ tip, the netting would be small enough to make catching the birds easy.

It’s not certain when Hale Duck Decoy was built, but one clue may lie in a brick near the pond’s boat house. Upon the brick are the moulded figures: X63:RC, which has been interpreted as 1633 (the initials apparently standing for ‘Reign of Charles’. Several decoys were built on the east coast of England in the 17th century, so this date is not unlikely. There are also records of the decoy being repaired in 1754 by Colonel J Blackburne of Hale Hall. The sophistication of this particular decoy do argue for it being a later example.

In 1976 the Cheshire Conservation Trust and the Lancashire Trust for Nature Conservation took over the running of the decoy. This responsibility passed, in 2000, to Halton Borough Council. They managed it as a nature reserve, and in 2001 a group of organisations and individuals met to form the Friends of Pickerings Pasture and Hale Duck Decoy.

Since 2004 the Friends have used a Heritage Lottery grant to improve the visitor experience of Hale Decoy, and make further use of the game keeper’s cottage to help inform visitors about the monument.

Image: Hale Duck Decoy, public domain, via Wikimedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hale_Duck_Decoy#/media/File:Hale-Duck_Decoy_2.jpg, accessed 3rd August 2019


Friends of Pickering Pasture, About Hale Duck Decoy, Access and Guided Walks, http://www.thefriendsofpickeringspasture.org.uk/hale-duck-decoy.html, accessed 3rd August 2019

Hale Village Online, Hale Duck Decoy, https://www.halevillageonline.co.uk/hale-duck-decoy, accessed 3rd August 2019

Historic England, Duck decoy pond 200m south east of Marsh Bridge, https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1014717, accessed 3rd August 2019

Photograph of the surviving Calderstones

Calder Stones

The Calder Stones name refers these days to a group of six megaliths which stand in a greenhouse have a new home in Calderstones Park. These are the remains of a Neolithic burial chamber which once stood on the edge of the Harthill estate. The Harthill Estate later became Calderstones Park.

Photograph and plan of the bruail tomb Bryn Celli Ddu
A plan and photograph of Bryn Celli Ddu on Anglesey. The Calderstones may originally have looked similar

Before they were placed in the greenhouse in 1954, the stones stood in a circle at the entrance to the park. This was inside the roundabout on the junction between Druids Cross Road and Calderstones Road. Research by the Merseyside Archaeological Society suggests that the monument originally stood about 20 metres further west. The site is now occupied by modern flats.

The monument would originally have seen the stones built up into a ‘box’ shape. That stone box would have had a turf and soil mound piled on top. In appearance it would have looked similar to the mound at Bryn Celli Ddu on Anglesey. That’s a passage tomb similar in size and date to the Calder Stones.

The demise of the Calder Stones mound was probably due to the taking of sand, and perhaps stone. These are both materials which are valued for building. Paintings show that the stones were already exposed by the 1840s. However, another image from 1825 seems to show the very last remains of the mound still visible.

Calder Stones: Meaning and use

It’s safe to say that no one really knows the full meaning or intention behind the building of the Calder Stones passage tomb. However, a look at the stones can tell us a little about it, and allow comparisons with other, better-understood sites.

Map of Neolithic sites around the Irish Sea
Map of important Neolithic sites and areas around the Irish Sea

The carvings on the stones are comparable with monuments all around the Irish Sea, from Scotland, Ireland and North Wales. Some say these stones are the most decorated of their kind, and one of the dagger shaped carvings even bears a resemblance to a tomb carving in Spain!

The megalithic building traditions started in the Mediterranean area. Those traditions then made their way up the Atlantic seaboard, becoming heavily associated with north west Europe.

Secondly, a look at the landscape in which the Calder Stones sit yields further clues. The monument’s original site, like many similar tombs, is towards the top of sloping ground. The spot itself is just shy of the summit. In the Neolithic period, the tomb may have been extremely easy to see from the well-used pathways of the valley floor.

A map used in a boundary dispute in 1568 shows at least three other monuments in the area. Robin Hood’s Stone, which still exists, and the Rodger Stone, which does not, are standing stones. (The third monument, the Pikeloo Hill, also no longer exists). Examples in other parts of Europe suggest that standing stones were in valley bottoms, or on trackways. People could have used the stones as marker points. Perhaps people were expected to take a moment to gaze uphill to where the ancestors were buried. Liverpool’s two standing stones may have played this role in the Calder Stones landscape.

The Calder Stones tomb was extremely long-lived, and may have been used for up to 800 years after it was raised. It may even be the case that this tomb was one of the last of its kind, still being visited as the Bronze Age began and new religious practices emerged.

Recent developments

The stones have been sitting in a greenhouse for some decades now. It has done nothing to help preserve them. The sandstone from which they are made is prone to flaking in an environment like this. Temperature can change often and humidity is high. Projects to investigate the ancient history of the area have included the Calder Stones in their plans. As this article was being written came news that the stones should be about to move to an open air site closer to their original location.

The Reader Organisation, a reading charity which currently runs its operations from the Calderstones Mansion, intends this as part of a £2 million project to create an International Centre for Reading.

Further Reading

Photo of a low stone wall
The wall around the roundabout where the Calderstones once stood

The Calderstones of Liverpool, by John Reppion at the Daily Grail.

As an archaeologist, I often bump into the border between the historical (especially the prehistorical) and the strange. By that I mean the paranormal, the unexplained or the mysterious. Ancient monuments like the Calder Stones are rife with legend and half-known stories. I have to admit that I love all that stuff!

But sometimes historical and archaeological knowledge is fascinatingly mysterious in its own right. For example, it has allowed John Reppion to write an incredibly comprehensive history of said Calder Stones.

The Calderstones of Liverpool collates the history, rather than prehistory, of the stones, from their earliest ‘written’ mention on a boundary dispute map of 1568 up to their relocation to the current glasshouse vestibule in the 1980s.

We also get details of associated monuments like Robin Hood’s Stone, also in Liverpool, and Barclodiad y Gawres and Bryn Celli Ddu in Anglesey, which share some important features with the Merseyside monument. Antiquarians linked them to Druids. They invented gory stories of blood running down the (in truth, natural) grooves on Robin Hood’s Stone.

Finally, John considers what might happen to the Stones in the near future. There’s a possible move from their present site, which he calls a potential “mixed blessing”. It’s certainly true that the Reader Organisation, who will be carrying out the move, have their work cut out to find the right solution. Luckily, they’re taking the time they need.


Journal of the Merseyside Archaeological Society, Volume 13, 2010

Greaney, M., 2013, Liverpool: a landscape history, The History Press, Stroud, p17-20

Liverpool’s Calderstones to get new home as part of £2m lottery plans, Liverpool Echo, accessed 20th January 2016

Robin Hood’s Stone

Robin Hood’s Stone (or the Robin Hood Stone) is a Neolithic or Bronze Age standing stone currently to be found within a set of railings on the corner of Booker Avenue and Archerfield Road. It originally stood to the north east in the middle of a field known as Stone Hey, but was moved when the nearby houses were built in 1928.


Robin Hood’s Stone is a roughly rectangular stone around two metres high, just under a metre wide and half a metre thick. Deep grooves run down one of the larger faces, and these stop at what would have been the original ground level. Everything beyond the end of the grooves was buried when Robin Hood’s Stone was in Stone Hey.

After it was placed inside the railings, a bronze plaque was attached with some information about its origins:

“This Monolith known as Robin Hood’s Stone, stood in a field named the Stone Hey at a spot 280 feet bearing North from its present position, to which it was moved in August 1928. The arrow below indicates the direction of the original site. This side of the stone formerly faced South”.

Robin Hood's Stone plaque

Engraved at the base of the stone, as has been mentioned, are a collection of cup and ring marks. Marks like these, made of concentric carved rings with circular ‘cups’ at their centre, can be found across the west and north of Britain and in Ireland too.

Original Location

Robin Hood’s Stone originally stood to the north east of its current site, in a field known appropriately as Stone Hey. ‘Hey’ is a word of Anglo-Saxon origin, and suggests an enclosure, possibly for animals. It’s been suggested that a farmer brought the stone to this field to let the grazing animals scratch themselves on it.

Robin Hoods Stone on an OS map from 1893
Robin Hood’s Stone in it’s ‘original’ position (at least since possibly 1550) near Booker’s Cottages in south Liverpool (Ordnance Survey, 1893, 1:2500)

Although Robin Hood’s Stone may originally have been part of the Calderstones, we know that it has stood alone in this part of Liverpool since at least 1771, when Eye’s map of Liverpool shows the Stone Hey field name. So it’s sensible to suggest that, although the Stone itself is not marked on that map, it was in this field at that time.

A boundary dispute of 1568, which uses a number of ancient monuments as boundary markers, mentions that a stone was removed from the mound of the Calderstones in around 1550. This may or may not have been Robin Hood’s Stone, but the cup and ring markings near the base of the pillar date the stone to a similar era to the Calderstones.

So the movement of Robin Hood’s Stone could have taken it from the Calderstones mound itself, to Stone Hey (now the location of 11 Greenwood Road), and finally 280 feet south east to its present location on Booker Avenue in 1928.


The very name of the stone is a reference, of course, to the famed archer of Sherwood Forest, and this comes from the long grooves in the rock. Legend has it that these grooves were made by medieval archers sharpening their arrow heads on the stone in the course of practising their aim. There’s no direct evidence for this, and the Robin Hood name is merely an extra layer in the mythology.

Another more gruesome legend suggests that the grooves are there as drains for the blood of the Druids’ human sacrifices! Needless to say this is a typical over-excited Victorian story, and quite far from the truth.

The mysterious carvings on the base of the monument, buried for so long in the ground at Stone Hey, have been seen by Alfred Watkins, inventor of ley lines, as a map of local leys. Considering Watkins ideas about the power of leys, it’s not entirely clear why you’d need a map of them…

Excavation and protection

Prior to its relocation to Booker Avenue, the Stone was excavated on October 29th 1910, which was when the carvings were rediscovered. These have since been compared to the carvings on the Calderstones, dating Robin Hood’s Stone to a similar date, the Neolithic.

Photograph of Robin Hood's Stone under excavation
Robin Hood’s Stone under excavation in 1910, showing the buried elements and cup and ring marks

In 1924 the Stone became a Scheduled Ancient Monument, but due to the threat posed by the new housing, it was relocated to its present site in August 1928 by the Liverpool Corporation and the Mersey Building Company. It was protected with the iron railings, and has stood in this state ever since.


Robin Hood’s Stone, Allerton, Liverpool, Lancashire, The Northern Antiquarian, https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/robin-hoods-stone/, accessed 7th January 2016

Robin Hood’s Stone – Standing Stone (Menhir) in England in Merseyside, http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=8435, accessed 7th January 2016

Robin Hoods Stone, PastScape, http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=67205, accessed 7th January 2016

South Liverpool – Allerton (West and South Allerton), Allerton Oak, http://www.allertonoak.com/merseySights/SouthLiverpoolAL.html, accessed 7th January 2016

The Calderstones, Mike Royden’s Local History Pages, http://www.roydenhistory.co.uk/mrlhp/local/calders/calders.htm, accessed 8th January 2016

Everton Beacon

Liverpool has always been a trading port, and so it’s no surprise that features have come and gone in the landscape which sought to make this as easy and safe as possible.

Everton Beacon was one such feature, and took advantage of the natural rise in the ground to the north of Liverpool’s centre.

All the images we have of the Everton Beacon today are of a tower with two storeys (though some sources incorrectly state there to be three). It was built out of the classic Liverpool red-brown sandstone, probably from a source very close to the Beacon’s location. It was reported to be 25 feet tall and 6 feet square.

There was an earth-floored kitchen in the lower storey, with a fireplace in one corner. On the first floor was a living space and above that, on the roof, a cement and stone firebox in which could be set a blaze to make Everton Beacon more visible to vessels on the River Mersey. This may be why rumours have grown up around the Beacon to suggest that it was built to warn England of the approach of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

It’s been written that the Beacon was built in 1230 by Ranuf, Earl of Chester, but Robert Syers in his The history of Everton, including familiar dissertations on the people, and descriptive delineations of the several & separate properties of the township suggests that this is unlikely. Perhaps an earlier form of the Beacon was first erected then, replaced with the more recent version in later centuries.

Part of the reason to doubt a great age was the poor quality of the construction. Syers calls it poorly built and of little architectural merit. Towards the end of the building’s life it was in a very poor state, with a crack running right down its south side, and the whole thing laying “open, unwatched and unguarded” (and therefore uncared for).

Not just a beacon for guiding ships

Everton Beacon
Everton Beacon

Syers also tells us that marriages took place in Everton Beacon, the tower acting as a venue for those priests who were cast out of Liverpool during the Civil War for being on the wrong side. In Liverpool’s case the ‘wrong’ side was the King’s. This use of the tower puts its construction back at least to the 1640s or 1650s.

Other residents included a watch movement maker shortly after 1770, and a cobbler around 1783. Whether either of these lived here ‘officially’ (e.g. paid rent) is not known. The picture we get from these possibly unofficial residents is one of abandonment, both of the building and possibly the poor souls who found refuge here.

Syers also notes that it was most often frequented by ‘idlers and casual visitors’, who carved their names and initials into the soft stone walls. Apart from these occasional folk, the tower was open to the elements and the local cattle, who wandered in and out at will.

The End of Everton Beacon

Everton Beacon was poorly built, a useful pile of rock if nothing more. By the 18th Century it had dangerous cracks running down its walls and had been long neglected. One dark and stormy night in 1803, the flimsy structure was felled, perhaps by no more than a gust of wind, the last straw which broke its feeble back.

No obvious remains of the Beacon can be seen today, but its known that St. George’s Church in Everton was later built on or near the site, being the highest point of the hill. Recent map-based research by YO! Liverpool member ‘dazza’ suggests that in fact the site may be just to the south east of the church, raising the possibility that something of Everton Beacon’s foundations may be accessible to adventurous archaeologists.

Map extracts from 1790 and 1848 showing location of Everton Beacon
Dazza’s research points to a location just beyond St . George’s Church walls


http://www.liverpoolpicturebook.com/2013/06/EvertonBeacon.html (which actually talks about Rupert’s Tower). Accessed 10th November 2015

http://www.yoliverpool.com/forum/showthread.php?108281-Everton-Beacon. Accessed 10th November 2015

Syers, Robert, 1830, The history of Everton, including familiar dissertations on the people, and descriptive delineations of the several & separate properties of the township, G & J Robinson, Liverpool.

Huyton Village Cross

From The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire by Henry Taylor:

The church (dedicated to S. Michael) is of ancient foundation. The ornamentation of the font testifies to the pre-Norman date of the edifice. A handsome cross was erected on the village green, near the south-west corner of the churchyard in the jubilee year, 1897. It replaced an older cross, which was erected about the year 1819 from the design of the late Mr. Rickman. His original drawing is to be seen in an adjoining cottage. A photograph of the cross, taken about the year 1878, shows a slender Gothic pillar on a flight of  stone steps. Mr. F. T. Turton informs me that: “Prior to this date [1819] no cross existed. The ground was used for the purposes of bullbaiting and cockfighting; occupations which caused much trouble to the then young vicar of the parish, Ellis Ashton, and I have always understood that it was with the view of somewhat filling up the open space or green, that he was instrumental in having this cross erected. It is related of this vicar that the annoyance being so great, he did on more than one occasion take off his coat and severely castigate some of the offenders.”

Garston Churchyard Cross

From The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire by Henry Taylor:

Mr. Cox writes (in 1888): “The base of the churchyard cross still lies opposite the site of the old south porch.” There is, however, some doubt whether this stone is the base of the cross, or the base of a column of the nave arcade of an older church, but Mr. Cox’s notes, which I give below, are of much interest: “Now, this hollowing at the top of the shaft . . . must have had another purpose. At Derby and many other places, the stump of the cross was so hollowed in order that in time of pestilence money might be placed in vinegar and disinfected before it was exchanged for the goods brought there. The seller left his goods and the buyer his money at the stone, but did not meet, for fear of infection. A stone closely resembling this was found by Dr. Kendrick at Warrington, and is now, I believe, in the museum. Is this old Garston Cross a plague stone? That churchyards were used as markets in the middle ages is a well-established fact.”

Much Woolton Cross

From The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire by Henry Taylor:

The ancient village of Much Woolton is two miles and a half inland from the bank of the Mersey and six and a half miles in a south-easterly direction from Walton-on-the-Hill. The Knights of S. John of Jerusalem had a grange here. A wake was held on Woolton Green on Midsummer Day. Mr. Cox (Transactions, Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, for 1895) describes the remains of the market cross as consisting of a short pyramidal chamfered shaft, socketted into an old base, which was carried on two steps. The site was the centre of the old village, where the district council offices now stand. The structure, I understand, was taken down about the year 1900, and given to Mr. Reynolds, who placed it in his garden.

Knotty Cross

From The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire by Henry Taylor:

These words occur on the six-inch ordnance map at the intersection of roads one-third of a mile south-east from the centre of Gateacre village and about half a mile in a north-easterly direction from Much Woolton Church.

Hunt’s Cross

From The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire by Henry Taylor:

The words “pedestal of stone cross” occur on the 1848 six-inch ordnance map at “Hunt’s Cross,” close to Hunt’s Cross Station, at the intersection of Hunt’s Cross Lane and Sandy Lane, two miles inland from the river Mersey. The words “Hunt’s Cross House” occur on the map close to the site of the cross. Mr. Cox writes, 1895, that the remains of this cross consist of a massive square stone socket lying by a barn at the cross-roads near the station. The words “Cross Hillocks” and “Cross Hillock’s Farm” occur at the meeting of roads three miles east from Much Woolton Church. An interesting history of Garston from the pen of Mr. E.W. Cox is printed in the Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire for 1888, with pictures of the village and crosses as they existed in the year 1850. At that date Garston was an old-fashioned fishing village near the Otter’s Pool, on the north bank of the Mersey, but of late years everythying has been changed by the formation of the docks and the advent of various manufacturing industries.

Garston Village Cross

From The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire by Henry Taylor:

Mr. Cox writes: “The other cross stood below the rock on which was built Garston Hall at the head of the mill-dam, and just opposite to the bridge where the stream entered the pool; its site would be near the present centre of the junction of St. Mary’s Road and Chapel Road.” The remains consisted of a square solid base or pedestal and a portion of the square shaft. A view of it is given in the Binns Collection at Liverpool, in which is shown on one side of the base-stone the socket-holes for the stocks. Writing again in 1895 Mr. Cox says: “It is shown by Troughton on two steps, and probably marked a well, or limits of land belonging to the Abbey of Stanlaw. It was buried when St. Mary’s Road was made, and a public-house built over it. It was found again in making a drain, and was kept for many years by Father Smith on a new site. Inscribed on the new plinth is the appropriate motto, ‘Ecce crucem reddientem.'” The old base-stone and shaft, as rebuilt, are carried on a flight of four steps. Below the Latin inscription are these words: “The Garston Cross formerly erected by our Catholic forefathers in memory of the faith for which they suffered and of which they were robbed by the tyranny of their oppressors.”

Everton Cross

From The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire by Henry Taylor:

A water-colour drawing in the Binns Collection shows this cross in an open space near a cottage. A church appears in the distance. The head of the cross is gone, but a portion of the square shaft is shown socketted in the customary way into a pedestal, carried on a calvary or flight of three steps. The remains are almost exactly a fac-simile of what may now be seen any day at Cronton. In Syer’s History of Everton, published in 1830, a plan of the village is given, taken from an old deed, showing the “Headless Cross” on the common, near the beacon. Mr. Cox writes: “The remains of the cross which stood in the centre of the village were put into the Roundhouse when taken down. It was a market cross.” The site of the cross was one and a half miles south of Walton-on-the-Hill, and the same distance inland from the river bank.

Childwall Cross

From The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire by Henry Taylor:

The word “cross” in Gothic letters appears on the 1848 map one and a half miles east of Wavertree. Mr. Cox thus describes it in the Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (volume for 1895): “On the roadside, near Well Lane, stood the slender octagonal shaft of a cross, on an octagon socket and three steps. It was a wayside cross, probably marking the lands of the monks of Stanlaw and Whalley, who had a cell there. The stones were thrown over into the field when the road was widened, and were thence carted away.” The church is of ancient foundation, and is mentioned in the Domesday Survey. Mr. W. Bowdon, of Gorsefield, Patricroft, writes June 24th, 1901: “I was at Childwall on Friday, and looked up what remains of the cross there. Two steps, base about twenty-seven inches, with a socket of about twelve inches, shaft and arms gone.” Mr. Harrison, in his Liverpool District Place-Names, tells us that the modern English equivalent of Childwall is Wellfield or Springfield. We have thus another instance of a well and a cross together.

Everton Well

From The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire by Henry Taylor:

Mr. Hope writes in his Legendary Lore of the Holy Wells of England: “There is a well here which has the reputation of being haunted, a fratricide having been committed there. It was a haunt of pick-pockets and other disorderly characters. It is now built over, and in a few short years the subterranean passage leading to the well will be forgotten.” The following extracts from the Crosse Deeds related to this town:- 1412. Quitclaim from Nicholas de Lyverpull, clerk, to John le Dey, of Lyverpull, his heirs and assigns, of one land of ground, lying between the Crosses next the Shootsacres, which Gilbert de Everton holds by the devise of Latilda de Sefton and the above Nicholas. Witnesses:- Robert de Derby, then Mayor of Lyverpull, Thomas de Bold and Roger de Holland, then Bailiffs of Lyverpull, Hugh de Botyll, Thomas de Gleest, and others. Given at Lyverpuul, in the third week of Lent [4-10 March] 14 Henry IV. [1412]. Grant from John Wodes and Alice his wife of Lyverpull, to John Crosse, of one selion of land, called le Dobul lond lying between the Crosses, in the field of Lyverpull, viz., two hallands lying upon the roadleading to the Breke and one halland on the same road, between the selion late of Derby on the north and land of the late John More on the south. Witnesses:- Hugh Harebron . . . Given at Lyverpull on the 20th day of May 12 Edward IV. [1472]. Grant from Richard Crosse, son and heir of John Crosse of Lyverpull, to WIlliam Crosse his brother and son of the said John of one tenement with houses and gardens, in le Dale strete Lyverpull, in the tenure of Henry Plombe, and of two buildings with chambers next the Cross in the same town. Witnesses, James Molyneux rector of Sefton . . . Given at Lyverpull on 10th September 18 Henry VII. [1502].

S. Mary’s Well, Allerton

From The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire by Henry Taylor:

This holy well is referred to in the following terms in the Chartulary of Cockersand Abbey:-

Grant in frankalmoign from Robert, son of Richard de Allerton, to God and St. Werburgh of Warburton and the canons there with the consent of Gilbert, son of Robert de Allerton, of three acres of land in Allerton with the toft between Twiss and St. Mary’s Well, next to four acres which Richard, son of Robert, son of Henry…. [S.D. c. 1240-1250]

Allerton is distant about three-quarters of a mile in a south-westerly direction from Much Woolton. So far, I have been unable to discover any traces of the well, but the words “Spring Wood” occur on the map close to Allerton Hall.

The following deed from the Chartulary of Cockersand Abbey may refer to some of the crosses in this district:-

Grant in frankalmoign from Richard de Allerton, to God and St Werburgh of Warburton, of four acres of land in Allerton with the toft upon Brook-Carr, from a certain Twiss going down the syke to a cross and so westward to another cross…. [S.D. c. 1240-1250]

Skeat describes the word Twiss as used of the place where two streams meet.

Walton-on-the-Hill Village Cross and Stocks

From The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire by Henry Taylor:

In the Binns Collection, vol. ii., p. 26, an illustration is given of this structure, consisting of a classical pillar carried on three steps. Adjoining it are the stocks, so arranged that the culprits sit on the bottom step. The pillar may have carried a sun-dial, replacing the ancient cross. The drawing is dated 1818. The structure is shown in an open space opposite a half-timbered building.

Rev. E. Horley, in his History of Sefton, writes: “It is within our memory that there was at Walton-on-the-Hill a pair of stocks close to the churchyard wall, where we find that in 1858 a person was confined by order of the local magistrates.”

Wavertree Cross and Well

From The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire by Henry Taylor:

Considerable doubt exists as to the history of this structure. Three views of it are given in the Binns Collection in the Liverpool Free Library; two of them are practically identical, showing an Early Gothic arched recess in a wall, below which is a well square in shape surrounded by masonry. Above the arch are indications of an inscription. A later engraving shows the arch surmounted by a cross bearing the inscription, “Deus dedit homo bibit.” A recent photograph appears to indicate that the whole structure has been rebuilt since the date of the last engraving, with sundry variations from the original design, which shows an ancient structure in ruins.

Mr. Cox (Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire for 1895) writes: “An old man remembered this well open, and told me that the descent to it was by several steps. The source of the water is not at the well, but under the lawn of ‘Monkswell,’ and a passage led to it. The inscription formerly over it is well known – ‘Qui non dat quod habet, Daemon infra videt. Anno 1414.'” In the rebuilt structure this inscription appears to have been inaccurately copied.

Hope, in his Holy Wells of England, gives the same inscription as Mr. Cox, and adds, “Tradition says at one period there was a cross above it inscribed ‘Deus dedit homo bibit,’ and that all travellers gave alms on drinking. If they omitted to do so, a devil who was chained at the bottom laughed.”

I have not as yet come upon any documentary evidence to prove whether or not the structure represented by the Binns engravings is of really ancient date.

Walton-on-the-Hill Churchyard Cross

From The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire by Henry Taylor:

The pedestal of this cross was dug up by the  gravedigger a few years ago and has been left above ground in the churchyard. It is of rough stone and much time-worn. The stone measures five feet square at the base, is two feet thick, and the socket for the missing cross is eighteen inches by fifteen inches and fourteen inches deep. The cross was, therefore, a large and probably lofty one. The majority of the shafts in Lancashire were much smaller than this. In pre-Normal crosses the calvary, or flight of three steps, were often worked, as in this case, one one stone, and this fact leads to the conclusion that the cross was of pre-Normal date. A notable example is to be seen in Halton Churchyard, near Lancaster. In the church is preserved a portion of the circular head of a cross with cable moulding, likewise dug up in the churchyard, which may have formed part of this early cross.

The church is of pre-Norman foundation and is named in Domesday. The sculptures on the font were clearly chiselled before the date of that survey. The parish was a large one and was indeed the mother church of the district. The site is opposite the mouth of the Mersey, about one and a half miles inland.

Roby Cross

From The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire by Henry Taylor:

The site is on the southerly side of the road, between Liverpool and Prescot, distant three miles in a south-westerly direction from the latter town. The remains consist of a portion of the shaft, four feet six inches in height and twelve inches square, socketted into a venerable pedestal, two feet six inches square on plan and twelve inches thick. The pedestal is carried on a step eight inches wide. There may be other steps buried in the ground. The shaft looks newer than the pedestal. A villager named Hesketh told me in April, 1900, that this cross was called “The Stocks” by the people about, and old inhabitants remember seeing men in the stocks, which were close to the cross. An old inn used to be opposite. It appears to have been a custom to place this instrument of punishment for drunkenness opposite the principal inn.

There is still a good deal of old-world character about this village, which is three-quarters of a mile south-west from Huyton. Roby was in that ancient parish. Baines states that in 1304 Robert de Lathom had a charter for a market and fair for his manor of Robye. It is quite possible, therefore, that the cross which I have just described was the ancient market cross, standing in the market place, which has disappeared under the Enclosures Act.

The Chantry Well, Huyton

From The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire by Henry Taylor:

These words occur on the 1848 six-inch ordnance map close to some old cottages, about one hundred yards to the north of the church. They have recently been pulled down. The well, when I saw it (in April, 1900), was a walled-in dipping well, on the east side of the lane, running due north from Huyton village. It does not appear to be known why the well has its present designation, but Baines states that two chantries were founded here, the first by John de Winwick, rector of Wigan, in 1350 (dedicated to the Virgin); the other by his brother, Richard de Winwick, rector of Walton-on-the-Hill (dedicated to S. Michael the Archangel). Possibly, chantry priests lived in the cottages.