Monday, August 06, 2007

The Legend of Kilgrimol: Part Two

The first part of this article can be found under the ‘Previous Articles’ menu in the right hand side bar...somewhere...

Now, if you’d been paying attention to Bulpit’s tale a few paragraphs back, you might have noticed the line: “…so he went to Cross Slack, where Grim’s oratory had stood.”
Cross Slack, nowadays, has long since vanished, the site being occupied by the original St. Anne’s golf course just south of Squires’ Gate. How do we know this? Well, in the reign of Edward the Third (otherwise known as the fourteenth century) Richard Fitz Roger granted the estate of Lytham to the monks of Durham, recording the boundaries of Kilgrimol in the process: “From the ditch on the western side of the cemetery of Kilgrimol, over which I have erected a cross, and from the same ditch and cross eastwards going along the Curridmere beyond the great moss…” and so on and so forth. If you’re in that frame of mind you can easily sit down and work out Cross Slack (and therefore Kilgrimol’s) location.
The ditch alluded to is where the ‘slack’ in Cross Slack actually gets its name, ‘slack’ being an old word referring to a long depression in the landscape; one generally filled with water. The cross, apparently, was erected by Richard Fitz Roger himself (he must have been very muscular) thus completing Kilgrimol’s new title.
The Kilgrimol keeill itself, it seems, had already been destroyed by the fourteenth century, only its cemetery being referred to in Richard Fitz Roger’s documents.
A quick glance at the 1840’s Ordnance Survey Map (overlaid, as always, courtesy of Mario Maps, on the modern day equivalent) pinpoints exactly where Cross Slack was located.

And, by way of confirmation that Cross Slack was the later name for Kilgrimol (we’re seldom satisfied with only one source of reference) we have the following, once again, from William Thornber: “During the Saxon era habitations of fishermen and others were erected on this line of coast, and Cross Slack was originally termed churchyard slack, from having been the site of a religious oratory and cemetery.”
Keeills, of course, were generally constructed close by but off the line of either Roman or Celtic roads. Yet again Thornber provides us with evidence for this: “Churchyard Slack lies situated in a hollow, having on the north a rising ground called Stony Hill, and at a distance of three quarters of a mile a similar elevation, though not so marked. On these ridges are found innumerable small boulders of grey granite, having apparently been acted upon by fire; but it is particularly remarkable that not one can be found amongst them fully whole. Similar stones in less quantity are discovered in the intervening space, and to some distance inland; yet on these mounds, and especially on the ground now occupied by T. Wilson esq. of Poulton, they are to be met with even in heaps, all more or less broken.”
Celtic roads, especially round the Fylde, were often constructed from fire-split stones, presumably the act of breaking them in half making for a flatter, more efficient surface.
So, now we know the age, the origin and the location of Kilgrimol, but we still don’t know exactly what became of it. What we do know, however, is that it vanished sometime before the fourteenth century, consistent with so many other keeills around the district.
In truth, despite folktales of biblical proportions, keeills were often adopted by Saxon monks and converted into Christian-exclusive churches, the Pagan element being eradicated (or, at least, attempts were made to wipe the Pagan elements out) in the process. Newer’s Wood in Pilling seems to have gone this way.
Other keeills developed under the Saxons’ and, later, the Normans’ influence into more substantial, but yet again exclusively Christian, churches, a great many of which are still standing today. St. Helen’s at Churchtown is a fine example of this.
Others still, as appears to be the case with Kilgrimol, just collapsed through lack of use. Coupled with the slow but steady rise of dunes in the area, the ancient church was no doubt eventually buried beneath the wind blown sand.
But that wasn’t quite the end of the matter otherwise we’d asking the owners of the golf course at this moment for permission to dig. (We wouldn’t be receiving any replies, of course, but that’s beside the point.) According to ‘Fylde Folk: Moss or Sand’ by Kathleen Eyre (1979) several pieces of ecclesiastic masonry were uncovered from the dunes by the local farmer at Granny’s Cottage, Cross Slack: “The stones with curious markings and inscriptions which had been turned up by Neddy from time to time near the cottage, had been so little thought of as to be tossed into the depths of a disused well and lost for ever.”

For ‘curious markings’ think keeill crosses, for ‘inscriptions’ think Ogham; ancient and important relics, no doubt, now lying at the bottom of a long lost well due to the ignorance of Old Ned.
The reality, perhaps, is even more tragic than the legend.


Bwca said...

"For ‘curious markings’ think keeill crosses, for ‘inscriptions’ think Ogham; ancient and important relics, no doubt, now lying at the bottom of a long lost well due to the ignorance of Old Ned.
The reality, perhaps, is even more tragic than the legend."

Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it?
Maybe someone will throw Old Neddy Seagoon down a well ...

"He's fallen in da waaater"

Brian Hughes said...


I suspect that nowadays Old Ned would be a proerty developer.

"Nah...stop messin' abart..."

Brian Hughes said...

Ahem...make that a 'pro--p--erty developer' and please cancel my subscription to Readers' Digest.

Ann O'Dyne said...

It is I

bwca a.k.a

thinking that
holding that piece of a jug made by an ancient person must give a powerful vibe.
Wouldn't Time Travel be fabulous?

Here in Australia our Prime Miniature is doing a damn good re-run of Nero, so maybe we will all get a chance to experience ancient rome. the fall thereof.

Brian Hughes said...


Funny you should say that. Our Chairman (or should I say ex-Chairman since Michelle and I have now resigned) is doing a damned good re-run of Mussolini. He even looks like him. If we could just get him a little hat...

Ann O'Dyne said...

delete this comment withing 10 seconds of reading it or this blog will explode -

People In Glass Houses Growing Up At Government House (ISBN: 0241100593)
Lubbock, Adelaide (nee STANLEY)

Bookseller: Goldring Books
(East Sussex, n/a, United Kingdom)
Bookseller Rating: 5-star rating
Price: US$ 12.47
[Convert Currency]
Quantity: 1 Shipping within United Kingdom:
US$ 6.96

Book Description: Hamish Hamilton, London, 1978. Hard Cover. Book Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. First Edition. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. White title on red boards which have some shelf wear to bottom, internally very clean and unmarked. Dustjacket is complete and has a little wear to spine head and tail. Based on the diaries of Lady Stanley, wife of Sir Arthur Stanley, Governor of Victoria, Australia from 1914 by her daughter, Adealaide. Rare insights into the private and public life of a vice-regal household, irreverent observations on politics, dignitaries, the arts, religion and World War I, spiced with anecdotes of famous guests.

and it is hysterically funny.
Those Stanley kids were feral. **

Brian Hughes said...


As a born and bred socialist I'm not about to defend those money grabbing, inbred, power crazed, aristocratic forebears of mine (after all, they didn't leave any of that money and power to me, so they can bugger off as far I'm concerned) but $19.00 U.S. (that's about forty-five pence in real money isn't it?) seems like a real bargain to be able to snoop into their horrible, self-serving little diaries to me.