Secret places of worship – Peak District

Walk anywhere in the Peak District and you will find lots of markings made into the rock. Gritstone is a particular favourite as it has retained the marks over centuries whereas limestone has tended to lose its rock graffiti.

One of the most common marks to see out on the moor, well away from centres of population is the conjoined ‘V’ and ‘M’ often inverted and with a date. The letters denote the Virgin Mary and were a sign of catholic following, that was banned during the period. Except for a brief three year period in 1685 under King James II reign, practising catholicism was punishable by death.

The gate post above Marsden, pictured on the left has the date 1676 and it sits within the curtilage of a tudor farmhouse. The date on the stone at Stanedge Pole, pictured right is 1697, possibly, the pole sits within a few hundred meters of a known worship site for Catholics during this time.


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