Affetside Cross, located adjacent to the village green in the centre of the village, still remains a mystery today. It is classed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument (National Monument No. 25721) under the Ancient Monuments & Archeological Areas Act 1979 and is now thought to date from medieval times, or perhaps much earlier.
Its close proximity to a Roman road (Manchester to Ribchester) has caused many to date it as Roman in origin, and yet some date it much later than that. Present thinking leans towards it being a medieval route marker for Lancashire pilgrims en-route to Whalley abbey. some see it as a market cross from Jacobean or Georgian times, or it may also mark the point of a beacon due to its dominant position. The theory which relates to it being a market cross does not appear to make much sense as Affetside has no record of ever having a market charter (although it is recognised that many markets did exist throughout the Lancashire County Palatine without a charter ever being granted). Furthermore, as a market it would have been difficult to access, would be quite remote and would have suffered from competition from easier accessible locations with larger populations.
The loss of the cross head is undated, and it has never been proved that it had one, although the socket cut into the top of the shaft indicates that something was once placed here. The Cross is a Listed Grade II structure. The cross shaft is cut from a single piece of local gritstone and set into a plinth of 2 stones forming 2 concentric steps. The first step is circular and 2.28m in diameter, and 100mm high, and the second step is 1.6m diameter, and 250mm high. The shafty is in the form of a round pillar with a square shouldered base 340mm wide and tapering upwards to a height of 1.43m. At 1.34m there is a round collar surmounted by a bun shaped capital into which is cut a socket that probably held a cross or a stone ball feature.
There are other Pilgrim’s Crosses in the district, most notably at Holcombe Moor to the east, and in the west at Bradshaw (which has now been removed). The theory of the cross being a pilgrim’s cross is the most plausible theory as the route east to west is an old pack horse trail and would have been a major thoroughfare for the passage of goods and people.