Howick Cross is a Medieval socket with a modern restored cross placed into it. The socket is a substantial cube-shaped piece of stone, measuring some 75cm wide and 60cm tall. It rests on a stone plinth which was installed after the First World War. This bears the inscription “Howick Cross. Restored by the inhabitants to commemorate peace 1919”. The restored cross is a metre high and in good condition.
Howick Cross is an example of a Medieval wayside cross. These were frequently placed at junctions of roads and could be used as a local landmark for travellers to navigate through an area. Such crosses later became the target of attacks during religiously turbulent times and often, as in this case, it is therefore just the largely indestructible base that remains. The cross shafts were sometimes reused in decidedly non-religious ways. The one at Doffcocker became a footbridge over a stream and the ones at Whalley were used as fence posts. Even cross bases have been targeted by more modern vandals. The remote Pilgrim’s Cross base on the moors above Bury was attacked by persons unknown a little over a hundred years ago.
A full cross with socket have become increasingly rare over the centuries, so it is always good to see a restoration being carried out. These include more unusual ones such as Turton Cross, which carries a slim wooden cross with dovetails neatly into its elegant Medieval base. Cockerham Cross is a much more modern design, and just rests on the Medieval plinth.
Cross sites are of such historical significance, that the Ordnance Survey maps often have marked on them ‘site of cross’ where no physical remnants are now to be seen. Perhaps one day, a nationwide project could be carried out to restore these sites, such as the excellent Hob Cross at Lathom, which has been made from a recycled gatepost.
Site visited by A. and S. Bowden 2020
The cross is situated on the junction of Howick Cross Lane and Liverpool Road (A59). Park on Howick Cross Lane.
The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire: A Revised Version: Volume IV: Leyland Hundred, Volume Editors: J.A. Hilton, A.J. Noble, M. Pannikar, W.A. Varney (2007) North West Catholic History Society