Cratcliff Rocks hermitage


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Derbyshire Dales (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SK 22747 62343

Reasons for Designation

From the time of St Augustine's mission to re-establish Christianity in AD 597, monasticism formed an important facet of both religious and secular life in the British Isles. By the 12th century, as a reaction against the corruption and excesses that characterised established orders, many reformed orders were emerging in France and establishing themselves in England having adopted a revised Rule which included increased simplicity of life and seclusion from the outside world. However, in preference to living in settlements of religious communities, some men and women chose to live solitary lives of contemplation and simplified religious observance akin to those of the Christian Fathers and early British saints. These anchorites and hermits lived off alms or, in the case of hermits, who, unlike anchorites, were allowed to leave their cells, were often supported by the patronage of the nobility who established hermitages on their estates and appointed hermits to pray for the souls and well-being of their families. Hermitages fell out of favour with the general dissolution of religious establishments in the first half of the 16th century. Cratcliff Rocks hermitage is unusual in that it remained in use until at least 1550, when the accounts of the steward of Haddon Hall note the delivery of five brace of coneys to the hermit. Although not an elaborate cave hermitage, it is well-preserved and includes important architectural evidence of further structures whose buried remains are preserved in the area in front of the cave entrance.


Cratcliff Rocks is an extensive outcrop on the edge of Harthill Moor in the eastern gritstone moors of Derbyshire. The monument is a medieval cave hermitage and includes the rock shelter, the rock face outside the shelter on which survive a number of architectural features associated with ancillary structures and buildings, and the area in front of the rock face in which are preserved the buried remains of these ancillary features. This area measures 18m from east to west and extends for c.17m from the back of the cave to the edge of the drop down into Cratcliff Wood. The origins of the hermitage are not documented but a bas-relief crucifix carved inside the rock shelter has been dated stylistically to the 13th or 14th century. It is accompanied by a number of chiselled recesses which would have been used for candles and sacred vessels. Outside the shelter, on the rock face above and to either side, are a number of chiselled grooves and sockets for timber beams which indicate that a roof or awning formerly projected outward from the rock to cover the rock shelter and create an annexe to the south. East of this is another groove, cut in an inverted V, which has beam sockets at each angle and indicates that a building with a steeply pitched roof also projected at right-angles to the rock face. The latter building, which was c.3.5m high and 2m wide, is interpreted as the living quarters of the hermit while the rock shelter, and the area under the awning, was the chapel. The railings and modern wall in front of the rock shelter are excluded from the scheduling though the ground underneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Clay, RM, Hermits and Anchorites of England, (1914), 32
Cox, J C, The Churches of Derbyshire, (1879), 357
Cockerton, R W, 'Derbyshire Countryside' in Derbyshire Countryside, , Vol. 4, (), 46-7
Showing beam sockets etc., Nieke, M R, (1992)
Showing cross and recess, Nieke, M R, (1992)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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