Ancient stone cross gets new lease of life

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A project to reinstate a historical monument in a Chorley village has received a financial boost which will mean the initiative can finally go ahead.

‘Action for Ulnes Walton’ has been awarded £3,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to support the reinstatement of a medieval stone prayer cross in the village.

It was one of a number of rural wayside crosses that marked the routes of prayer and coffin trails in ancient times.

The tradition was common to many old rural parishes and offered strategic points to allow prayer gatherings and resting places for pall bearers on their way to the parish church.

The cross, which will be designed in keeping with the original stone, will be located at the Old School in Ulnes Walton Lane, around 100 metres from its original site.

The original base, which is classed as an ancient monument, cannot be moved and is now hidden by the stone parapet of Ulnes Walton bridge.

As part of the installation project, local school children will provide contributions to fill a time capsule to be buried beneath the cross.

Ulnes Walton is known to date from Viking times and the bases of several stone crosses are still marked on ordnance survey maps but are no longer visible to passers-by.

One stood by the River Lostock at the crossroads of Ulnes Walton Lane and Holker Lane and was probably used as a preaching point by the Dominican Friars.

Amanda Partington, clerk to Ulnes Walton parish council said: “The parish council congratulates Action for Ulnes Walton in successfully obtaining the funding from The Heritage Lottery Fund to be able to reinstate a medieval stone prayer cross in the village.”

Sara Hilton, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North West, said: “The placement of stone crosses along prayer and coffin trails is a fascinating tradition, and offers a real insight into the history of village life.

“We are delighted that this project will enable more people to learn about and get directly involved in exploring their local heritage.”