Cross Hands

Scattered around England are pubs called the Cross Hands, and sometimes Cross Keys,  titles that make no sense whatsoever, though some at least seem to be at crossroads, so partly explains the title. Much of this misinformation is due to the long disruption of the English Civil War, which put an end to much accurate local history, to be replaced by supposition and nonsense. Here is another version from the wilds of Dorset:

“This Batcombe of the Legends, is an altogether dramatic place. On the summit of the hill, on a wild heath such as the witches in Macbeth might have haunted, there stands a mystic stone called the Cross-in-Hand. It is a sort of Pillar of Salt set in a place of hushed solitude, where only gorse and heather and a never-tiring wind. It may be that there is little in this scapegoat pillar to distinguish it from the base of a lamp post when such posts were fashioned in stone. There are, however, some who can see that the summit of the column is carved into the form of a hand holding a bowl. Even those whose vision is thus gifted do not claim that anything like a cross is grasped by the semi-invisible fingers. The morbid declare that this enigma in stone marks the scene of a murder, the imaginative that it was a place  where a miracle was wrought,  while those of simple faith state that in the bowl alms were deposited for needy wayfarers. For my own part, I do not fancy that the pillar rose from the heath as the sword Excaliber rose from the lake, but believe that it was placed where it is by unpicturesque overseers to mark the boundary of a parish. “

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