Anglo Scandinavian high cross in the churchyard of St Thomas Becket Church
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 18-Nov-2019 at 11:49:11.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- High Peak (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
Reasons for Designation
High crosses, frequently heavily decorated, were erected in a variety of
locations in the eighth, ninth and tenth centuries AD. They are found
throughout northern England with a few examples further south. Surviving
examples are of carved stone but it is known that decorated timber crosses
were also used for similar purposes and some stone crosses display evidence of
carpentry techniques in their creation and adornment, attesting to this
tradition. High crosses have shafts supporting carved cross heads which may be
either free-armed or infilled with a 'wheel' or disc. They may be set within
dressed or rough stone bases called socles. The cross heads were frequently
small, the broad cross shaft being the main feature of the cross.
High crosses served a variety of functions, some being associated with
established churches and monasteries and playing a role in religious services,
some acting as cenotaphs or marking burial places, and others marking routes
or boundaries and acting as meeting places for local communities. Decoration
of high crosses divides into four main types: plant scrolls, plaiting and
interlace, birds and animals and, lastly, figural representation which is the
rarest category and often takes the form of religious iconography. The carved
ornamentation was often painted in a variety of colours though traces of these
pigments now survive only rarely. The earliest high crosses were created and
erected by the native population, probably under the direction of the Church,
but later examples were often commissioned by secular patrons and reflect the
art styles and mythology of Viking settlers.
Several distinct regional groupings and types of high cross have been
identified, some being the product of single schools of craftsmen. There are
fewer than 50 high crosses surviving in England and this is likely to
represent only a small proportion of those originally erected. Some were
defaced or destroyed during bouts of iconoclasm during the 16th and 17th
centuries. Others fell out of use and were taken down and reused in new
building works. They provide important insights into art traditions and
changing art styles during the early medieval period, into religious beliefs
during the same era and into the impact of the Scandinavian settlement of the
north of England. All well-preserved examples are identified as nationally
Although the carvings on the Anglo Scandinavian cross in St Thomas Becket churchyard are in only a fair state of preservation, the monument is a good example of a later high cross which displays evidence of the stylistic changes brought to this class of monument by the Viking settlement. In its original location, it probably acted as a wayside or boundary cross.
The monument is a late ninth or tenth century high cross located immediately
west of the Church of St Thomas Becket. It comprises a rectangular sectioned
gritstone shaft mortared into a modern red sandstone socle or socket stone.
The shaft tapers towards both top and bottom and is broken just below the
missing cross head leaving a fragment of a collar consisting of a wide ribbon
of flat-band moulding.
Other flat-band mouldings edge the angles of the shaft and frame panels of
eroded interlace decoration on all four faces. The decoration on the west and
east faces appears to have been divided into three smaller panels. The shaft
is 137cm high by 38cm north-south by 19cm east-west and is so very similar in
all respects to the Anglo Scandinavian cross in Bakewell churchyard that it is
likely to have been carved by the same mason or workshop. The cross is not in
its original location but was apparently moved from beside the Eccles Road
between Chapel en le Frith and Whaley Bridge. Modern graves that fall within
the scheduling, and the surface of the adjacent asphalt path, are excluded
from the scheduling although the ground beneath them is included. The cross is
Listed Grade II.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 1 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:
Books and journals
Routh, T E, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, , Vol. 58, (1937), 24-5
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