Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ancient Waymarkers

In the corner of an area of land belonging to the Longshaw Estate is a wooden pole.   It stands near the triangular junction where the road from Sheffield to Hathersage joins the road down to Froggatt and Calver.

It is just a wooden pole in the ground but it is so well known that the area around it is known as 'Wooden Pole'.
What is it? 

According to some sources it is an old way marker for a pack horse route which leads down to Hathersage and marks the boundary between Hathersage and Holmesfield.   It isn't one of the original way markers or 'guide stoops'  but it has been there for many, many years and is occasionally replaced by the National Trust who own the site.  According to others and referring to the stone in the ground which is engraved 'T1778'  it is a boundary marker for the parish of nearby Totley at that date .

It is quite tall too!  I'm sure many people pass by without noticing it or think that it is the remains of a dead tree.  There is a little pull off on the road for a few cars and a gate through onto the field so you can get close to it.

In the grounds of the Longshaw Estate is another way marker or guide stoop (stoop being a Scandinavian word for stone).  This is a stone one engraved on each side of the stone.  The side above says 'Tidswell Rode'  - Tideswell Road

The engraving on this side says 'Hope Rode 1787'  - Hope Road

and this side says 'Sheiffeild Rode' - Sheffield Road.

There are a few more of these way markers around the estate and many more are to be found in the Peak District area of Derbyshire.

These were guides to follow along the ancient pack-horse trails which criss-cross the moors, hills and valleys of the Peak District. These trails are part of the industrial heritage of the area used by pack horse trains to carry such local  commodities as silk, cotton, lead and salt to the growing industrial towns of Manchester and Sheffield.  Travelling across the moors could take several days and  in certain weather conditions, be quite treacherous.  Travellers could easily lose their way.  In 1697 an  Act was passed that local surveyors should erect guide posts in the more remote areas showing the way to the nearest market towns.  There was no defined standard to presentation or appearance so many different types of guide stoops are to be found across the Peak District.

By the mid 18th century turnpike roads began to appear across the region with their own mile stones and signposts and the need for the guide stoops faded.  The stoops themselves usually date from 1709 onwards when another Act made it compulsary for parishes to provide guide posts at road junctions.  They were used to supplement or replace other types of  guides like cairns, crosses, way markers and wooden poles.  Which is where this post started - with a wooden pole!


  1. Interesting post Rosie, I know the wooden pole well though I've never actually stopped to look at it. Will do something about that next time I drive over there. Judging from the information board in your photo you were inside the old stone barn on the road down to Grindleford. It's really interesting in there now. I went to a talk by David Hey last winter all about the old packhorse routes and the guide stoops - I find the subject endlessly fascinating.

  2. Well I passed that way several times last week, and didn't notice a thing. Must look out for it next time!

  3. What a big mistery that wooden pole!
    I've tried a lot of times to leave you a comment this week, but haven't had any luck, I hope it works now!

  4. A really interesing post Rosie. I think the way markers and guide stoops are really attractive as well as being practical in their day.x

  5. I find all waymarkers and cairns and mileposts fascinating! (But then, I am a bit of a map addict!) Great post :)

  6. Lovely to chance on a photo of Staithes on your sidebar...cottage by the sea?

  7. I must have passed this pole many times but never noticed. Spent some of my happiest late teens early twenties around Froggatt and Calver. Married a Cliff Man. You probably know what I mean by that.

  8. Ive passed this many times - and thought it was a dead tree!!! I'll stop to investigate next time. xxxx

  9. Fascinating. I am reading Sissinghurst An Unfinished History at the moment, and am learning lots about our countryside heritiage.

  10. That's so interesting about the pole I would never have noticed it. I love these obscure corners .