Namings on Alderney Edge

This is some more from the present copy of current Archaeology. Alderney edge has been inhabited by humans for thousands of years, and each age seems to have left its marks, which are now being investigated:

Wherever you walk on alderney Edge, you are rare y far from large stones set at the side of a road or in a hedge bank. The Landscape Project concluded that these were mainly used to mark boundaries, rather than ritual or funerary sites. The Edge was once an area of common land with a complex system of rights to mineral extraction, grazing, and turf-cutting, all of which were disputed by local landowners. Ill-defined boundaries simply added fuel to such disputes, which perhaps explains why the Edge has so many standing stones, varying in scale and materials from sandstone or conglomerate bounders to glacial erratics of hard igneous rock from Cumbria.

Some of the most prominent are the large slabs of sandstone with  rounded tops and tooled faces. Most date from the 1780s enclosure of the Edge and were made to serve as gate posts at eh entrances to fields: the subsequent loss of field hedges has left them isolated, but they often odour in pairs and are marked by the remains of iron pines that once supported a gate or barrier. Older stones, some marked with an incised equal-armed cross – a ‘crist’ in the local dialect – are probably medieval in dee and mark parish boundaries.

Some of the stones have names. three ashlar blocks now set within a modern amber style are known locally as the Pea Steps – an 1840s tithe map shows that the field opposite was called ‘The Piece’, so the modern name is probably a corruption of ‘Piece Steps’. Some names have stories attached that sometimes read like recent rationalisation or myth-making. Marketing the boundary between Macclesfield and Alderney parishes, the 1m-high stone marked ‘BS’ for Boundary Stone on the OS map and care with the date 1789 is known as Trugs-i-th’-Hole. ‘Trug’ is Old English for a valley or trough, but local people insist ate this is the burial place of a drayhorse called Trug, who was kept here as a spare horse to assist other horses in pulling wagons up an especially steep length of the lane. He was interred there and figures on the weather-vane on the farmhouse at this spot.

As with so much local history, there can be different explanations, and there is probably no way of clarifying which one is true. Or maybe they all are. Sometimes it depends on who’s asking.

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