Ancient stories for empty windows

Bakewell Crosses Display in Portland Square
Bakewell Crosses - the High Cross
Bakewell Crosses Hassop Roundabout Excavation
Bakewell Crosses Newspaper Article

Planning to visit Bakewell during the summer?

With several retail units becoming unoccupied during the pandemic, we wanted to fill those temporarily empty windows with archaeological stories – to inspire and excite visitors and locals alike. The first of these can now be found in Portland Square, just next door to the café Relish!

Decoding the Bakewell Crosses

Our first display outlines the work we did on the ‘Decoding the Bakewell Crosses’ project in 2012, in association with the Bakewell and District Historical Society and the local parish and diocese.

The key goal of this project was to conserve the Bakewell High Cross shaft, which can still be seen in the grounds of Bakewell Church. This was to ensure the preservation of the pagan and Christian iconography on it for years to come.

In addition, the archaeological investigation also aimed to find out whether the cross was situated in its original location or whether it had been brought into the churchyard at a later date.

Legend of the main Bakewell Cross

The study, which included geophysical survey and excavations, showed that the main high cross was not in its original position. In fact, we discovered it had been set up in the church yard after the Anglo-Saxon period. We know this because the cross had been placed over a late Anglo-Saxon grave, a burial that was likely to have been from the graveyard of the Anglo-Saxon minster that preceded the Norman building that forms the core of the church today.

A local legend told of how there was a cross at the crossroads one mile north of Bakewell, broadly where Hassop Roundabout is today. So we moved the focus of our archaeological investigations there in order to find the original placing of the cross.

However, although we revealed ancient roadways joining together, as well as a mound of stones that could have supported a cross base, there was no definitive proof of the cross having originated there.

Future storytelling in Bakewell’s shop windows

We’ve had a lovely response to this initiative, even making it into the local paper. It’s now our plan to make these pop-up displays more common, as we work with local business owners and landlords to bring the community more fascinating stories from our past.

In the meantime, come down to Portland Square to check out the story of the Bakewell Crosses. And after reading all about it, don’t forget to scan the QR Code on the display to help you visit the cross in person.


Click here to learn more about the ‘Decoding the Bakewell Crosses Project‘ >

Archaeological Research Services Ltd