AN historic mediaeval cross which stood in Radcliffe for many years has been rediscovered after laborious research by a local historian — and a sprinkle of luck.
Seeing Radcliffe’s old village cross for herself was the reward of years of work for retired Carol Kemp, who can trace six generations of her family back to the Top o’the Cross area.
Radcliffe-born Carol, who now lives in Walmersley, followed a trail of references to the cross in historical texts, council minutes and Ordinance Survey maps, but had no idea of its whereabouts or if it had lasted the passage of time.
But during one of her many visits to Radcliffe Library, a conversation with librarian Julie Taylor revealed the stone cross had lain in the library’s cellar for many years — with staff assuming it was part of an old gravestone.
Carol, who became hooked on historical research after attending a family history course at Bury Carer’s Centre in 2007, can trace her great-great-great-greatgrandfather back to the Top o’the Cross area.
She said: “My 91-year-old mum still lives around Top ‘O’ Cross and, as a child, she remembers the cross being sat atop a wall across from the pub.
“The thread which ran though all my family tree investigations was the same question: ‘What happened to the old cross?’
“Top ‘O’ Cross is born and bred in me.
“Friends always used to tease me that I would never be able to find the cross, so I set out to prove them wrong — but I never expected to find it.”
Carol’s research confirmed a mediaeval stone cross had previously stood near the Top o’the Cross site, now marked with a red plaque.
In a Radcliffe Times article from December, 1938, she found reference to the rediscovery of a stone cross measuring two feet high and 16 inches across.
It was this description which prompted Julie to show her a similar object stored at the library.
Carol believes the cross was probably donated to the town’s museum at Close House, which was sold in 1948 with historical items then stored at Radcliffe Library.
Dr Mike Nevell, head of Archaeology at Salford University, confirmed Julie and Carol’s finding to have the same attributes of the pre-Reformation village cross.
He said: “The design, tooling marks and size would suggest it dates back to around the 15th century and is part of a much larger structure, possibly even a panel.”
Cllr Jane Lewis, cabinet member for leisure, tourism and culture, confirmed the cross will be displayed in Radcliffe.
She said: “In the short term, it will be put on display in Radcliffe Library while we look at the best permanent location in Radcliffe for it.
“This is a marvellous rediscovery of an ancient piece of Radcliffe’s history and it’s thanks to Carol’s many years of diligent research.
“The timing couldn’t be better, as we have just completed the Big Dig in Radcliffe and are bringing Radcliffe’s history back into the light for generations to come to enjoy.”