Hollow within a holloway

Like its neighbour Abnalls Lane, Cross in Hand Lane is (at least in parts) a holloway. As mentioned before, Cross in Hand used to be the main road to Stafford. I understand from reading information on the Two Saints Way project that it would also would have been one of the last stages of the pilgrimage route between Chester and Lichfield. According to Thomas Harwood it was also where the Sheriff’s Ride (the next one coming up soon on 10th September) used to begin and finish. So, that’s what I do know.

Now for what I don’t know…..

This ‘cave’ can be found by walking about 200m up Cross in Hand Lane from the A51. It’s on the right hand side, opposite a lovely white cottage.  I first read about it in Cuthbert Brown’s Lichfield Remembered, but he doesn’t know what it is either! Is it somewhere stone has been extracted from? A natural feature? Anyone have any ideas?

Edit 25 minutes later!
It is natural. Brownhills Bob tells me via Twitter that it is a water fissure where softer rock has been washed out. So thank you to him, mystery solved 🙂

9 thoughts on “Hollow within a holloway

  1. I don’t know how I missed your earlier post on holloways! The lanes where I live are almost all a couple of feet below the road, and that road leads over Cross Fell, so surely it wouldn’t have had a lot of recent traffic?!

    That cave may be natural, but it looks like someone has helped it along. Nice squared edges? And are those little hollows where someone has inserted some sort of peg? Perhaps it had loops for tethering horses, and a trough underneath?


    • Cumbrian hola wegs 🙂 Do you know much about them? I’m really interested in finding out more – about ours here in Lichfield of course, but also generally. I’ve found a couple of books that I think cover the subject that I’m going to track down and there’s also this article which although specifically about cornish hollow ways looks like it has some useful generic information http://www.cornishhedges.co.uk/PDF/roadside.pdf

      Funnily enough the last stage of the two saints way walk from Chester to Lichfield is this evening, so pilgrims will once again be heading down the Cross in Hand hollow way!

      I’m going to have a look at the archives too, to see if they have any information on Cross in Hand. A long shot perhaps but worth a try! I suppose I could try the people who live opposite the cave to0, in case they’ve ever found out anything….


  2. Hi Kate,
    Looking at your photographs of the hollow it would be more than possible that it came
    about when the road was cut through as you can see tool marks at the back there seems
    to be a square hole ,In other parts of the lane you can see the rock outcrop cut back .
    Keep up your good work it is great to read you blog.
    Regards Pat.


    • Hi Patrick
      I’m really interested in hollow ways generally and I’m going to find out more about them. Hopefully in the course, I’ll be able to find out more about Cross in Hand & Abnalls. BTW did you know that the twosaints pilgrims will be walking down Cross in Hand to the Cathedral for evensong this evening?
      Thanks for the kind comments,


      • Kate,
        On a 1887 map I had sight of where your ‘cave’ is the map shows
        two pubs a brewery also maltings so the lane at this time was
        a very busy place the map is on a web site Old maps .com you
        can view them but not reproduce them.

        Regards Pat.


      • Hi Pat
        Thanks for that information, very interesting. I’ll have a look at the old maps site.
        There were so many pubs & breweries in Lichfield back then weren’t there! In John Shaw’s book The Old Pubs of Lichfield, he says that in 1834 there were 72 pubs in Lichfield – one pub to every 69 people. Only (!) 52 by 1900. I’ll have to count how many there are at present!


  3. I was very interested to find this blog and your references to the Two Saints Way. I would love to find out more about holloways to include in the guide. Just to let you know that we are having an inaugural pilgrimage between March 25 and April 1 and we plan to walk down Cross in Hand Lane with hand held crosses. It should be somewhere between 11:30 and midday.

    Best wishes,


    • Hi David

      Great to hear from you. Holloways were on my list of things to revisit and now your comment has bought them back to the forefront of my mind! I actually visited Farewell on my way back from Castle Ring a couple of weeks back too. I would be more than happy to let you have any information I discover about them. They are such an incredible part of our landscape. I’m really pleased that you are reestablishing this route & the tradition, it’s a great project. Will be following developments with interest.

      Best wishes


      • Sorry I haven’t revisited for 3 weeks. I’ve written a blog about our forthcoming pilgrimage at
        http://twosaintsway.org.uk/?p=660 and you can download our plans from there. We expect to walk down Cross in Hand Lane carrying hand crosses made in Bethlehem starting from Farewell at about 11:30 on Sunday April 1st. You’d be very welcome to join the walk any time.

        If you’d like to go on a list to get updates do email me.

        Best wishes,



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