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Handprints and Footprints on the Sandstone Ridge

25/05/24
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Footprint 1

Today, we write more on the unusual legacies to be found on the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge.

In Urchin's Kitchen, for example, the outlines of some boots have been cut into a low rock platform; all of right feet and differing size, but two complete with hobnails.

The initials H.C. and R.A. have been neatly inset in the best preserved example.

We do not know who these people were but the carving is also close to an inscription created by Prisoners of War, including one Alois Schwarz.

During WWII, the main POW camp was at Tarporley but prisoners were often billeted in small groups elsewhere. Near the Urchin's Kitchen, at Eddisbury Hill Farm, for example, there were some Nissen Huts said to have housed German prisoners.

Recollections from a nearby resident (a boy at the time), remembered his father collecting the POWs in a van, to work on the land, and commenting on how they were totally unguarded. Perhaps Alois Schwarz was one of these?

If so he may also have been one of the men who built the 'German Wall' at Willington. The 'German Wall' is a retaining wall on the side of the road through Willington Wood. A very faded inscription at that point, records that it was built by German POWs in 1946-47.

Anonymous, but altogether more personal is the outline of a hand that can be seen cut onto the rocks at Bulkeley Hill.

This is an extraordinary echo of one of the oldest types of pre-historic cave-painting.

The stencilled outlines of hands have been found all over the world created by Palaeolithic people as long as 40,000 years ago. By placing a hand on a rock and blowing charcoal or other pigment either directly from the mouth or through a straw, an outline was created and the message left was not only 'I was here' but also 'I touched this rock. I invite you to join me'.

Cheshire's handprints and footprints are much more recent but proof that people, over tens of thousands of years have not changed so very much!

One of our publications 'The Ridge: Rocks and Springs' contains more information about this legacy — see particularly pages 95-7 CLICK HERE.

We've also included this article in our collection of 'Footprints on the Ridge'.

Our thanks to Trustee, Peter Winn, for providing this information.