From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present
Hermits Cave
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Cave
Derbyshire
53° 9' 27.7" N 1° 39' 40.1" W
SK22756233
Good
1300
Free
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  • History
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Hermits Cave is situated at the bottom of Cratcliff Rocks. The cave that contains an unmistakable carving on solid rock of a crucifix. The figure is four feet high and the arms about the same length. According to Pilkington it was quite perfect in 1789 except that one side of the face was damaged. It has been further damaged in 1945. Dr. Cox states that the small crockets of budding foliage on the stem and arms of the cross indicate that it was carved in the 13th century. The cross, known as a cross regule, is notched to suggest the tree of life and the extended arms of Christ are raised above the horizontal.

By the right hand of the crucifix is a niche, probably used for a lamp or candle. The cave does not appear to have been altered much except the roof, which has a dome shape. A rough seat or bench can be seen. The cave was made into a large shelter by the erection of wooden structures in front of it. Numerous socket holes on the rock face can be seen similar to those at Rowtor. Above these holes are the usual runnels that testify to the hermits’ dislike of water dripping on his abode.

About half a mile west of Robin Hood’s Stride is another natural cave in the gritstone that has been used for religious purposes. It was first described at the end of the 19th century but is even now comparatively unknown. On the eastern face of the cave is an altarpiece with three small crosses rudely carved, together with an inscription now illegible. A natural passage connects this cave with another shallow one a few feet eastwards. Both are considerably weathered by wind and rain.