Day out in Derbyshire

Of Wirksworth or Bonsall? The lead miner sculpture

A trip to a friend’s birthday celebrations yesterday afforded the opportunity to stop by the Peak District town of Wirksworth. For those who don’t know it, the place is a gem, the kind of town you fall for instantly and before you know it you’ve declared that when you’re older and richer you’re going to retire there (without stopping to think that the town’s steep streets aren’t the slightest bit OAP-friendly).

Housed in a fine example of a small town church (which certain websites disparagingly summarise as architecturally “pleasing but rather unexciting”) is a remarkable collection of early medieval sculptural fragments. Some are not of any great artistic accomplishment (such as the lead miner in the picture above, a source of local controversy), and have been apportioned to the Anglo-Saxon period when an Anglo-Norman dating might be preferable. Others are much more refined: some ex situ twelfth-century beakhead voussoirs…

…and above all the “Wirksworth Stone”, a finely carved coffin (or shrine) lid decorated with scenes from the Crucifixion which ranks among the foremost examples of mid-Saxon stone sculpture still in existence:

"The Wirksworth Stone"

Having used up the handful of minutes allotted to me by my girlfriend to look round the church we went on our way, ending up having an enormous meal in the only original 1950s American diner in the country (imported in its entirety from New Jersey to an East Midlands industrial estate). And what did my girlfriend order to drink? A Medieval ginger beer, of course…


About Robert J S Briggs

Back to being a part-time early medievalist; Surrey born, London based, been known to travel
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