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'Maiden Cross'

Cross (Period Unassigned)

Site Name 'Maiden Cross'

Classification Cross (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Hexpeth Gate; Outer Cock Law; Black Brae

Canmore ID 59012

Site Number NT81NE 42

NGR NT 85 15

NGR Description NT c. 88 15

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/59012

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2018.

Administrative Areas

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Morebattle
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Roxburgh
  • Former County Roxburghshire

Archaeology Notes

NT81NE 42 c. 88 15

(Centred NT 883 152) Maiden Cross (indicated by cross symbol).

A Armstrong Map of Northumberland 1769 (1" : 1 mile).

Mr Telfer, farmer at Uswayford, knows the local hills well, but has never seen any remains of a cross. He stated that numerous people have searched the area for this cross, but no trace of it has ever been found.

No traces were seen on perambulating the area indicated.

Visited by OS(ASP) 2 May 1957.

The placename "Maiden Cross" is first mentioned in 1543 in a list of the "ingates and passages forth of Scotland" (Letters and Papers, Henry VIII ) which places it between Hexpeth Gate (i.e. presumably Outer Cock Law) and Black Brae but does not locate it more exactly. Johnson and Goodwin, however, in their survey of 1604 (R P Sanderson 1891) describe a section of the Border as running from "Slymy Shanke", probably about half a mile N of Carlcroft (NT 841 126) to "Windie Gil swire", evidently the "swire" or neck that joins Windy Gyle to Windy Rig, "and from thence along the High Street to Mayden Cross, and so to Slaynes Kerne", perhaps Russell's Cairn (NT81NE 19), and "from thence to Cocklawe". They thus suggest that Maiden Cross is somewhere near the top of Windy Gyle (NT 855 151) and beside a road which could in that case, be no other than the one described above. Armstrong's map of Northumberland which puts Maiden Cross almost due E of Cock Law can probably be ignored as his general topography of this region is completely inaccurate. Fryer's map of Northumberland (1822) supports Johnson and Goodwin by marking "Maiden Cross Hill" as an imaginary southward extension of Windy Gyle. On the other hand, Blaeu's map of Northumberland, published in 1648 but perhaps owing something of Pont's work of some forty years earlier, marks "Maiden Crosse" somewhere near the modern Plea Shank (NT 835 150), thus placing it not on the Windy Gyle route at all, but on The Street (NT 835 151- NT 793 190). This would agree quite well with the reference of 1543, but not with the language used by Johnson and Goodwin unless it is supposed that they misplaced Windy Gyle Swire in the series of points on the Border. This is not impossible, but the weight of the evidence seems to be in favour of identifying the Windy Gyle route and not The Street, with the road mentioned in 1543.

RCAHMS 1956, visited 1945.

By identifying Davidson's Burn (NT 889 168) with that mentioned in a charter of William de Umfraville from the stream nearer the Hanginge Stone, on the north, as this stream runs into the Usway Burn (NT 887 164) and then straight westwards as far as the cross which the monks put up with my soldiers as witnesses, and then across the Hepden Burn (Charter of William de Umfraville) (NT 871 141), Allan infers that the cross stood as a boundary mark on the high ground, now traversed by the Cocklaw - Alwinton road, between the Usway and Hepden Burns. He further identifies this cross with the Maiden Cross. The siting, placing the cross on The Street, between Windy Gyle and Cocklaw, agrees with the vague siting given in the Newminster Chartulary of the cross which was put up as a boundary mark of the land granted to the monks by William de Umfraville.

J Allan 1923.

The location of the 'Maiden Cross' has been discussed in depth in the RCAHMS (1956). No new light was shed on the monument or its location during the course of the present survey but for completeness, the previous accounts are summarised here.

The Maiden Cross is first mentioned in a list of 'the ingates and passages forth of Scotland' in 1543 (The Letters and Patents of Henry VIII (pt 2 no.538)). It is placed between Hexpeth Gate (thought to be Outer Cock Law) and Black Brae but is otherwise not securely located. The Survey of the Debateable and Border Lands, by Johnson and Goodwin, in 1604 describes the relevant section of The Border as running from 'Slymy Shanke (probably about half a mile N of Carlcroft '(NT 841 126)' to 'Windie Gil swire' (or neck) that joins Windy Gyle to Windy Rig 'and from thence along the High Street to Mayden Cross, and so to Slaynes Kerne' (perhaps Russell's Cairn). and 'from thence to Cocklawe' (Sanderson 1891). This would place the cairn beside a road somewhere near the top of Windy Gyle (NT c.855 151).

Armstrong's map of Northumberland (1769), however, places the cross almost due E of Cocklaw but has been dismissed on the grounds that his topography of the region is completely inaccurate. Likewise, Fryer's map of Northumberland (1822), marks 'Maiden Cross Hill' as an imaginary southward extension of Windy Gyle. Blaeu (1648), based on Pont's cartography of the 16th century, places 'Maiden Crosse' near the modern Plea Shank (NT 835 150), on The Street rather than the Windy Gyle route. Whilst agreeing quite well with the 1543 reference, it contradicts the description of the 1604 survey unless the authors have misplaced Windy Gyle Swire.

Relying on evidence in the Charter of William de Umfraville to a cross, Allan (1923) identifies the cross as the Maiden Cross and infers that the cross stood as a boundary marker on the high ground which is traversed by the Cocklaw to Alwinton road, between the Usway and Hepden Burns. This siting places the cross on The Street, between Windy Gyle and Cocklaw and agrees with the vague siting given in the Newminster Cartulary of a cross erected as a boundary marker of the land granted to the monks by William de Umfraville. Moreover, it lends greater credence to the evidence recorded on Blaeu's map of Northumberland (1648).

Berwickshire Natur Club, 24, 4, 1919-22, 491-2

Information from RJ Mercer (University of Edinburgh) 16 March 1986

RCAHMS MS 2598. No. 55c

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