Manside Cross
Standing Stone Elsdon Northumberland

Manside Cross

Standing Stone In Elsdon, Northumberland

The remains of a medieval cross with only a socket stone and stone shaft still standing.

If you're off for a hike around the Elsdon area or doing a bit more trig bagging, then here is a place where you can do both at the same time.

Situated a short way from Winter's Gibbet is the Manside Defended Settlement (also recorded as Gunner's Box Camp) and Manside Medieval Cross.

Manside Cross itself was made a scheduled monument in 1932 and stands just outside the ancient settlement. It is the remains of a medieval cross with only a socket stone and stone shaft now remaining. The stone is marked with initials 'H' on one side and 'D' on the other, which have been added later when the stone was reused as a boundary stone.

The first mention of the stone is in the Border Survey of 1604, though then it was referred to as Manns' Head. The name is believed to come from 'Maen' meaning stone and 'Syde' meaning 'vast' and 'far-reaching'. It's easy to see why the name of this remote and lonely place has this meaning.

The Defended Settlement and Earthworks, is referred to as Manside Cross Defended Settlement, Manside Camp and Gunners Box Camp. A mysterious place which looks to have been inhabited during different periods. Both the cross and defended settlement are mentioned in Nicholas Pevsner's and Ian Richmond's Buildings of England - Northumberland.

They write that: “Manside Cross, on a summit deep in Harwood Forest [...] A sub-rectangular double-ditched fort, probably of Iron Age date, with a counterscarp bank. Excavation revealed that the low ramparts had been revetted with stone walls, and that the interior contained Romano-British round stone-founded houses. A timber palisade ran parallel with and between the two ditches.”

The excavation found not only foundations of two stone roundhouses but Roman pottery dating back to the second century AD. It's believed that the site has been used in more than one period. Some historians have attributed the use of site as a Roman settlement reflecting its location between two Roman roads - Dere Street and the Devil's Causeway.

The Defended Settlement can clearly be made out with some impressive earthworks. When I visited there had been recent forestry clearance and the replanted trees were still small in size giving open views across to the unmistakable Simonside Hills. It's an intriguing feature and one steeped in history. You can only imagine the people who once resided here over the years.

A circular walk can easily be made using the forestry tracks. For those doing St Oswald's Way the site can be seen with a short detour. Be warned that even the shortish route clocks in at a circa 5 mile round trip and will entail some rough and muddy ground when you leave the forestry tracks.

Once you are done here, head west around the treeline for a few hundred metres to bag the Manside Cross Trig Point.

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How To Find Manside Cross

Where Is Manside Cross?

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55.223305, -2.024428

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Where To Park For Manside Cross?

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55.211446, 55.211446

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Best place to park is in the layby next to Winter’s Gibbet.

Contributed by Sean Linley

A keen walker and wildlife enthusiast and dog dad originally from Leeds but a Newcastle resident for 10 years with a passion for history and heritage. Always curious about my local area and always on the lookout for something new. You’ll often find me studying the OS map for new places to explore!

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Sean Linley

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