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The Crucifix, Cratcliffe Rocks, Birchover, c 1920s
John R Brown
About this image
Carving found at the Hermit's Cave at Cratcliffe (not Scarcliffe as written on postcard), near Birchover.
'At the foot of the cliff is a cave that contains the rude yet unmistakable carving on solid rock of the crucified Saviour. The figure is four feet high and the arms about the same length. According to Pilkington it was quite perfect in 1789 except that one side of the face was injured. I regret to say that it has been further damaged in 1945 by hooliganism. Dr. Cox states that the small crockets of budding foliage on the stem and arms of the cross incline him to the belief that it was carved in the 13th century. The cross, known as a cross regule, is notched to suggest the tree of life and the extended arms of Christ are raised above the horizontal. The author of 'Hermits and Anchorites of England' quotes a rule dating from the 14th century enjoining hermits to be sufficed with their image of the crucified Saviour. She adds that this was probably contemporary with the Cratcliffe crucifix. By the right hand of the crucifix is a niche, probably used for a lamp or something similar. The cave does not appear to have been altered much except the roof, which has a dome shape. A rough seat or bench can be distinguished. The cave was evidently made into a large shelter by the erection of wooden structures in front of it. Numerous socket holes on the rock face can be seen similar to those at Rowtor. Above these holes are the usual runnels that testify to the hermits' dislike of water dripping on his abode. (information from www.birchovervillage.co.uk)