A wayside and a boundary cross known as Robin Hood's Picking Rods
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1008595
Date first listed: 21-Jun-1993
Date of most recent amendment: 17-Mar-1994
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: High Peak (District Authority)
National Park: PEAK DISTRICT
National Grid Reference: SK 00612 90938
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Reasons for Designation
Wayside crosses are one of several types of Christian cross erected during the
medieval period, mostly from the 9th to 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 and
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 on Dartmoor where they form the commonest type
of stone cross. A small group also occurs on the North York Moors. Relatively
few examples have been recorded elsewhere and these are generally confined to
remote moorland locations.
Outside Cornwall 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. In Cornwall wayside crosses vary considerably in form and
decoration. The commonest type includes a round, or 'wheel', head on the faces
of which various forms of cross or related designs were carved in relief or
incised, the spaces between the cross arms possibly pierced. The design was
sometimes supplemented with a relief figure of Christ and the shaft might bear
decorative panels and motifs. Less common forms in Cornwall include the
'Latin' cross and, much rarer, the simple slab with a low relief cross on both
faces. Rare examples of wheel-head and slab-form crosses also occur within the
North York Moors group. 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 earth-
fast monuments, except those which are extremely damaged and removed from
their original locations, are considered worthy of protection.
Robin Hood's Picking Rods is a well-preserved example of a simple wayside cross set in its original location on a path across open moorland. It is unusual in that it includes two cross shafts, both of which are true columnar shafts and are, therefore, one of the rarer forms. It lies outside the two main areas of distribution for wayside crosses and also served as a boundary cross marking either early medieval district or ecclesiastical divisions.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Robin Hood's Picking Rods is a wayside and a boundary cross located together
in the north-western gritstone moorlands of the Derbyshire Peak District. The
monument includes two cross shafts set into a single socketed base or socle,
together with components of the cross heads which now lie embedded in the
ground round the foot of the socle.
The socle comprises a massive, rough-hewn gritstone block with an average
height of 60cm, a maximum north-south length of 205cm and a maximum east-west
width of 112cm. The north end, which is flanked by a track, is straight while
the south end is dressed to a point making the block roughly boat-shaped. On
its western edge, near the north-west corner, is a chiselled nail-shaped
symbol which may be a mason's mark and possibly also has a Christian
The cross shafts consist of cylindrical gritstone columns. The north shaft is
the shorter of the two and measures 84cm high. Apart from a section in its
upper west face which has broken away leaving a flat surface, it is uniformly
cylindrical and has a circumference of c.154cm. The south shaft is 120cm high
and tapers slightly towards the top so that its upper circumference is c.120cm
while the lower circumference is 154cm. Both shafts bear toolmarks and a
number of 2cm deep cups which may predate the creation of the crosses. The
north example is inscribed near the bottom of its north face with the letters
PR but the origin of this poor quality graffito is not known.
A letter is also inscribed into the top of each shaft where the cross heads
would formerly have stood. That in the north shaft is clearly an N while that
in the south shaft, though previously also interpreted as an N, appears
instead to be a poorly executed S. This suggests that, at some unknown date,
after the cross-heads were removed, the columns were marked `north' and
`south' for the convenience of travellers crossing the moor. The shafts are
set into round sockets which are c.15cm deep and some 15cm wider in diameter
than the shafts. The south shaft is currently cemented into its socket while
the north shaft clearly has been cemented as the stain from the cement is
visible round the bottom of the shaft.
Stones wholly and partially embedded in the earth round the socle are
interpreted as sections of the cross heads and include two dressed rectangular
blocks on the west side with the appearance of cross arms. The most visible of
these is 46cm long by 20cm wide and has a visible thickness of c.15cm. The
other, whose edges have been located by probing, is of a similar thickness and
is estimated as measuring c.41cm by c.18cm. There is no decoration on the
visible faces of either stone, nor on the cross shafts themselves, making it
difficult to date the monument. However, paired crosses with similar massive
socles known from other locations near the old Derbyshire-Cheshire county
border have been attributed to the Anglian and Anglo-Scandinavian periods.
MAP EXTRACT 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.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 23318
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Collingwood, W G, Northumbrian Crosses of the Pre-Norman Age, (1927)
Cox, C, 'The Athenaeum' in Early Crosses in the High Peak, , Vol. 9 July, (1904), 562
Green, C, 'Transactions of the Lancashire & Cheshire Antiquarian Society' in , , Vol. 56, (1941), 114-120
Pape, T, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Fd. Club' in Round-shafted Pre-Norman Crosses, , Vol. 80, (1945), 39
Phillips, C W, 'Antiquity' in Antiquity, , Vol. 11, (1937), 296-299
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