Chevin Cross returns to Yorkshire ridge to mark approach of Easter

Volunteers have raised a wooden cross on a hill overlooking Otley in West Yorkshire to mark the approach of Easter, in a tradition that stretches back more than half a century.

They carried the 30ft Chevin Cross to the top of Otley Chevin, as has happened every year since 1969.

Howard Chaplain oversees the operation and told the PA news agency: “Putting up the cross is easy to organise, we announce it in the local press every year and then people come to help us out.

Chevin Cross raising ahead of Easter 2023
The Chevin Cross was first installed in 1969 (Danny Lawson/PA)

“We get big groups coming together to make it happen, some people come every year, but there are always new faces too. Lots of them aren’t Christian.

“Many people also go to their windows to watch it happen from their homes. It definitely brings the whole town together.”

The cross is put up two weeks before Easter Sunday and taken down again two weeks afterwards.

The current version is made from wood salvaged after the IRA’s Manchester bomb attack on June 15 1996.

“The cross has been going up now for 54 years, it’s in a prime spot, where everyone can see it from the town centre,” Mr Chaplain said.

Chevin Cross raising 2023
The Chevin Cross is made from wood salvaged after the 1996 Manchester bombing (Danny Lawson/PA)

“The idea came from a local preacher, who was inspired to put the cross up after spending time in Austria in the hills there.

“He made the first cross that was destroyed after a number of years. The current cross is made from wood from a Catholic church that was damaged in the bomb attack.”

Mr Chaplain said even during the pandemic, the town kept the tradition of putting the cross in its current place.

He added: “People tell me it’s very moving to see the cross rise slowly. We have a Range Rover pull the cross up, but people have to be on the ground to make sure the cross doesn’t twist.

“Patients can see the cross from the local hospital, and I’ve been told that it gives them an inner strength. I’m very proud of that.”