Oddities on the Roaches
On the rocky escarpment which is known locally as the Roches and known further afield as the Roaches can be found some unusual features which visitors to this unique place in the Staffordshire Moorlands may not be aware of.
The photograph on the right is what is believed to be a Druid’s Cromlech, or Heathen Altar, as described in the book “Swythamley and its neighbourhood” written by Sir Philip Brocklehurst in 1874. It consists of three large rocks which is then capped with a fourth, and at one time in the past human remains would have been placed in an urn and left inside this Megalithic Monument.
I have often wondered in the past why these steps had been carved into a large boulder located below Rock Hall Cottage. I received the answer from Doug Moller (King of the Roaches) who at one time lived in Rock Hall Cottage, he told me that the boulder was a meeting place for a cult and the steps had been cut into the boulder to allow one of the members to climb to the top of the boulder. Once on top he would place a flag pole complete with a flag in a hole on the top, then he would blow on a trumpet to assemble the other cult members!
This photograph on the right shows what is known as Five Clouds and can be seen looking down from the top ridge of the Roaches on to a lower ridge. It has the appearance of five small hills and the word “Cloud” is an Old English term which means high up, however in this case you are looking down on them.
At the Southern end of the Roaches can be found Doxy’s pool, said to be a dew pond it is kept topped up by an artesian spring on its Eastern side. On the South side of the pool can be found a cone shaped rock which has cupped shape depression at its apex. This rock which is a libation cup or altar would probably have had honey and butter placed in the depression on its top and used in conjunction with fertility ceremonies. It is thought that the Goddess Brigit would have been associated with the religious practices that would have taken place at this spot. An interesting feature about the location of the altar is that it aligns with a cleft on the edge of the Roaches and Cluelow Cross, a stone fertility shaft about three miles away on top of an ancient burial mound.
The alignment cleft.
Whilst climbing on the hill at the end of the Roaches known as Hen Cloud I came across an unusual feature amongst a group of rocks. One of the rocks has what appears to be a man made hole in it. If you look through this hole it aligns with nearby Ramshaw Rocks where many strange features can be found, one such odd feature is the Serpent Stone which has the appearance of a Serpents head emerging from the ground. Whether this hole aligns with the Serpent Stone is not known at the present time. The alignment is on a heading of North North West, I also need to find out if this heading lines up with the Summer Solstice and also if a Ley-line is present.
Also on the far side of the hill known as Hen Cloud can be found this very unusual looking rock which I have nick named the “Stormtrooper” as I tend to think that it resembles the head of one of the Stormtroopers from the Star Wars films! The photograph below shows the location of a seat that was carved into the rock for a Royal visit in 1872. Above the seat is a plaque set into the rock face commemorating the visit of Her Royal Highness Princess Mary of Cambridge and Prince Teck. They arrived in Leek at noon on the 23rd of August 1872 by Royal train and were greeted by 8-9000 residents who had lined the streets to see the Royal procession. A picnic had been arranged by Sir Philip Brocklehurst at his hunting lodge, Rock Hall Cottage which can still be seen today built into the base of the Roaches.