Cross of Greet

Cross of Greet

Cross of Greet

The highest point on the road from Tatham Fells to Slaidburn is known as “Cross of Greet” or “Top of t’Cross”. There is no cross, just a large boulder with a shallow square hole in its top. It stands on the Lune-Ribble watershed, and marked the county boundary with Yorkshire’s West Riding until 1974, when the Slaidburn area became part of Lancashire. This view shows Stocks reservoir and Pendle Hill in the distance.

It is usually asserted that a stone cross once stood here, and fitted into the square hole in the boulder. However, the hole looks too shallow to have supported a cross. But was it once deeper, and might the top of the base have been broken off incidentally by the vandals who removed the cross? Or could it be that the stone had nothing to do with the cross? The latter view is held by some, who suggest that the boulder is a “Plague Stone”, and its hole a basin. In times past, there was a superstition that washing money in a Plague Stone would protect the traveller against catching disease in the new territory beyond. (But why a square basin?)

What of the name “Greet”? Old maps, such as Saxton’s of 1577, spell it “Grete”. Grete was (and still is) a common name amongst Scandinavian women, so perhaps there is some Viking connection. Another possibility comes from an outcrop of rock called “White Greet”, above the road, a mile to the south-east. “Greet” in this case is probably a corruption of “Grit”, referring to the rocky hillside which is a prominent and attractive feature of the pass when approaching from the south.