Headless Cross, Grimeford


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Headless Cross, Grimeford
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Chorley (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SD 61892 13011

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 pilgrimages. 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 within 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.

Although only a portion of the original cross shaft survives, the remains of Headless Cross displays a good example of Anglo-Saxon art styles. It is mentioned in a 12th century document and is a rare survival of a wayside cross in Lancashire.


The monument includes Headless Cross, part of the shaft of an Anglo-Saxon decorated cross located on the roadside verge at the junction of Grimeford Lane, Roscoe Lowe Brow and Rivington Lane. The shaft, which stands on a modern base, is made from local sandstone and measures 1.05m high by 0.64m wide and 0.27m deep. It is decorated on all four faces with carvings which include the figure of a man from the waist down; a trellis filled with geometrical ornamentation of horizontal and vertical straight lines repeated to form a band known as a fret; a modified version of T-fret; and a combination of vinescroll and frets. On the top of the shaft there is a post- medieval flat sandstone slab, originally thought to have been the table of a sundial, which has latterly been used as a direction stone by having the words TO PRESTON, TO WIGGAN, TO BOULTON and TO BLAGBURN carved on its sides. The shaft was reputedly found during construction of a local reservoir and re-erected on or near what is believed to be its original site. It is thought to be one of the wayside crosses marking the medieval route between Fulford and the path which crossed Rascahay Brook, between Heath Charnock and Adlington, referred to in a medieval document printed in the Chartulary of Cockersands Abbey and dated c.1184-1190. The monument is Listed Grade II. Four small cylindrical stone pillars close to the base of the cross are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath them is included.

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:


Books and journals
Pevsner, N, Fleming, J, Honour, H, The Penguin Dictionary of Architecture, (1991), 168
Taylor, H, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, (1906), 47-8
AM7, Headless Cross, (1958)
DOE, List of Buildings of Historic & Architectural Interest,
FMW Report AM 107, Leech, P, Headless Cross, Grimeford, (1982)
Letter, Winstanley,J., (1950)
SMR No. 136, Lancs SMR, Headless Cross, Grimeford, (1994)


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

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