Medieval cross, 400m south east of Crag House
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- NY 93338 69021
Reasons for Designation
Wayside crosses are one of several types of Christian cross erected during the
medieval period, mostly from the 9th to 15th centuries AD. In addition to
serving the function of reiterating and reinforcing the Christian faith
amongst those who passed the cross and of reassuring the traveller, wayside
crosses often fulfilled a role as waymarkers, especially in difficult and
otherwise unmarked terrain. The crosses might be on regularly used routes
linking ordinary settlements or on routes having a more specifically religious
function, including those providing access to religious sites for parishioners
and funeral processions, or marking long-distance routes frequented on
Over 350 wayside crosses are known nationally, concentrated in south-west
England throughout Cornwall and on Dartmoor where they form the commonest type
of stone cross. A small group also occurs on the North York Moors. Relatively
few examples have been recorded elsewhere and these are generally confined to
remote moorland locations.
Outside Cornwall almost all wayside crosses take the form of a 'latin' cross,
in which the cross-head itself is shaped with the projecting arms of an
unenclosed cross. In Cornwall wayside crosses vary considerably in form and
decoration. The commonest type includes a round, or 'wheel', head on the faces
of which various forms of cross or related designs were carved in relief or
incised, the spaces between the cross arms possibly pierced. The design was
sometimes supplemented with a relief figure of Christ and the shaft might bear
decorative panels and motifs. Less common forms in Cornwall include the
'Latin' cross and, much rarer, the simple slab with a low relief cross on both
faces. Rare examples of wheel-head and slab-form crosses also occur within the
North York Moors group. Most wayside crosses have either a simple socketed
base or show no evidence for a separate base at all.
Wayside crosses contribute significantly to our understanding of medieval
religious customs and sculptural traditions and to our knowledge of medieval
routeways and settlement patterns. All wayside crosses which survive as earth-
fast monuments, except those which are extremely damaged and removed from
their original locations, are considered worthy of protection.
The cross base south east of Crag House survives well and remains in its original position. The importance of the monument is enhanced by its association with a known pilgrimage route to an important early Christian site.
The base of a medieval wayside cross is incorporated into a dry stone wall
situated on the top of an east-west ridge. The cross base is fashioned from a
natural sandstone boulder. It is roughly square in shape and measures 1.25m;
it is embedded in the ground but stands to a height of 0.5m above ground
level. There is a central socket hole 0.36m by 0.16m and 0.13m deep.
Surrounding the socket hole on all four sides there is a shallow groove
forming a rectangular chamfer 0.43m by 0.82m. The cross is believed to be
situated on a Medieval Pilgrim route from Hexham Abbey to the Church of St
Oswalds, one of a number of holy sites linked by such routes; it is believed
that in the vicinity, in the seventh century, Oswald King of Northumbria,
raised the Christian cross after his victory against the non Christian Britons
at the battle of Heavenfield. Oswald's raising of a cross at Heavenfield is
mentioned in the writings of the Venerable Bede, a monk and historian born
near Jarrow around AD 673. The original cross is likely to have been a timber
construction later replaced in stone. The dry stone wall which overlies the
cross is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath it is
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Eagles, J L M, Landscape and Community: a WHS in rural Northumberland, 1991, M. Litt thesis
NY 96 NW 34,
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing