The Cross and Hand
Location: Batcombe Hill
The Lost Pyx
On Batcombe Hill, hidden in the verge amongst the dense wild flora can be found a three foot ham stone monolith locally known as The Cross and Hand.
The mystery that surrounds this small stone pillar is that know one really knows the origin or history of this ancient stone cross. People often speculate that it s a boundary stone of the Roman period of occupation, while others may say the forth or seventh century. What ever its age it has certainly been the subject of myth.
Certain stories suggested that the pillar marks the site of a peace offering between four kings by crossing their hands or to mark the grave a murderer who was tortured and put to the gallows. It is said he sold his sold to the Devil and sometimes at night you may see his spirit wandering the down.
Another story to the origin of this mysterious stone, is the tale of 'The legend of the Lost Pyx'. This story was immortalised in a poem by the Dorset poet and writer Thomas Hardy.
|The Lost Pyx: A Medieval Legend by Thomas Hardy.|
Some say the spot is banned: that the pillar Cross-and-Hand
Ere Cernel's Abbey ceased hereabout there dwelt a priest,
One night in his cell at the foot of yon dell
Said the priest in a shout to the caller without,
No further word from the dark was heard,
In a sweat he arose; and the storm shrieked shrill,
There seemed not a holy thing in hail,
Yet he plodded thence through the dark immense,
When he would have unslung the Vessels uphung
Then in dolorous dread he beat his head:
He thought of the Visage his dream revealed,
Till here on the hill, betwixt vill and vill,
And gathered around the illumined ground
'Twas the Pyx, unharmed 'mid the circling rows
And badgers grey, and conies keen,
The ireful winds that scoured and swept
Then the priest bent likewise to the sod
And turning straight with his priceless freight,
And when by grace the priest won place,
That midnight miracle.