Consecration crosses are painted crosses on the inside and outside churches. They widely appear in the C12 and marks the spot where the consecrating Bishop anointed the church with “Chrism” (An Oil and balsam mix). Twelve crosses inside and 12 outside.
Typical they were high up and had a candle placed in front. After the consecration, the church was then A Holy place. The crosses vary in style the commonest style I have found is the Rounded or “Bolnisi” style cross. As the original crosses may have required a large compass to create it is postulated they were created by Masons, who would have such a tool.
The Bolnisi style cross was one of the variations of the cross used by the Knights Templar. The main cross above is from the church in Saxstead, top right is in Kenton and bottom right is in the church at Mickfield. All of these churches are in Suffolk. It is very humbling to stand in front of 800-year-old graphics!
As the country is currently in lockdown owing to the virus that shall not be named, I thought I’d have a quick look at one of this country’s fantastic, hardly discussed resource, the Footpath.
There’s several different variations of “Right Of Way” across the land. For instance, there are Bridleways, Restricted Byeways, as well as footpaths. Some areas of great Britain also have open access, which enables you to wander all over, and then, of course, there is Common land and large public parks where you can wander where you will.
There are a staggering 140,000 miles of footpaths in Great Britain. Many are rarely used and offer an escape from modern life, plus there’s plenty of room to get your daily exercise and more. Many paths are wide and have plenty of room to pass should you meet anyone along the way.
Last weekend the wife and myself, thought we could use our daily allowance of outdoor exercise by going on a 10 miles or so stroll. The idea being we could leave early and avoid any awkward meetings on narrow pathways ( the 2m guideline could be a bit tricky on narrow tracks). By getting out the OS map we planned a large circular route. By having a good close up look at the map and a quick delve into the local history and archaeological sites a few landscape features popped up so they were incorporated into the route. They were then all linked by taking in wide tracks through woodland, a few roads, and some open fields.
We walked at leisure, stopping frequently and had a major stop for a mini mid-morning picnic. Time taken was around the 4 plus hours mark. Afterward, we both decided to do more outdoor activities. Some areas were stunning. The wildlife we saw was simply brilliant and quite a bit of wild Garlic was picked and brought home.
Essential Pack list:
Map and compass. A12 Sells a basic easy to use baseplate compass .
Food and Flask.
All packed in a good waterproof rucksack. We do stock some on the A12 Site. For one day use, I found a 25ltr to 40ltr capacity fine. Rucksacks in the A12Store
There are two forms of barrow that one instantly thinks of, three if you include Pete Barrow from Boston Lincs (Pete.. you borrowed my copy of Electric Lady land in 1970, I would like it back please). The first you can find in garden stores across the country and have a wheel and handles. We are not interested in these today. The second and by far the most interesting are the Neolithic and Bronze Age barrows that are to be found across Great Britain. Dating from the Late Neolithic to the Late Bronze Age (2400-1100 BC Ish). They are round and frequently had a surrounding ditch. They resembled an upturned pudding bowl made out earth thrown up from the ditch and elsewhere. Their primary function was to serve as a grave. They vary in size greatly and perhaps the size reflected the importance, wealth, status or how nice the person interred was.
Finding a Barrow near you.
There are thousands of these gravesites across the country. They are the most common thing circled on any landscape archaeologist’s map. Frequently marked on maps as Tumuli, Tumulus or simply Mound. Quite a few county councils in the UK have an archaeological resource online, first look for these. The site I often use is the Historic England site, https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/ You can enter in your area and see what comes up…
Some of the more local area sites or specialist sites link to a map to show where the barrow or ancient monuments are, however, some just give out a grid reference, such as TM35304680. If that’s the case go to https://gridreferencefinder.com/ and enter in the coordinates.
This will give you an aerial view of the area. Alternatively, you can just use the coordinates and an OS map to locate the barrow. I use both. It’s great to see the aerial view, it gives you an idea of the terrain and how well hidden your target is. Then out with the OS map and find out how to get there and a quick double-check that the Barrow isn’t on agricultural or otherwise private land. If it is inaccessible you can always try getting in touch with the farmer or landowner. Some will be quite accommodating. Unfortunately some may be more aloof and be of the “get ooorrf my laaaand” type.
What to Expect.
Many of the barrows are eroded by time, ploughed out by a few thousand years of agriculture and probably “robbed” out by curious antiquarians in the past, looking for treasure.
The attached pic is a barrow we visited in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk. There are at least four we have found there so far. They can be hard to spot. This one is around 4-6 foot high. The outer ditch is just discernible, but time and bracken does make it hard to make out.
If you decide to get your boots on and go barrow hunting.. Good Luck.