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Banwell Cross


A two feet high pillow mound earthwork shaped as a cross in Banwell has a Devil legend attached to it. According to the story, the villagers of Banwell attempted to erect a large cross on Banwell Hill, but each night the Devil would come along and blow it down. In order to prevent this the villagers decided to create the cross on the ground making it difficult for the Devil to destroy.

Harry Jelley in his "The Birthplace of St. Patrick in Somerset" suggests a link with the cross and St Patrick, he says ‘It is my view that Patrick was in fact born in south-western England, in Somerset, at or near the village of Banwell, five miles east of Weston-super-Mare. A settlement of late Roman date is known in the area. The archaeology of the region, which was highly Romanised, suggests Somerset was a plausible location for Patrick's family estate - unlike some of the remoter locations suggested - while placename evidence supports a Somerset location directly…… There is, in addition, an undated, unexplained earthwork in the form of a cross at Banwell, surrounded by a bank. A scheduled monument, it is listed by English Heritage as a Roman camp (which is unlikely), and is described in the local Sites and Monuments Record as a rabbit warren, for which there is also no evidence. I like to imagine the cross has a religious interpretation, constructed as a monument to Patrick by missionary Irish monks a few centuries after Patrick's lifetime, at a time when the memory of his birthplace survived.’

The rabbit warren suggestion refers to comparisons to s similar cross in Port Talbot that was thought to be an artificial rabbit warren. Excavations of one of the cross’s arms in 1961 revealed post-medieval pottery, clay pipe stems, bone, slag, slate and brick.


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