Lilla Cross on Lilla Howe, Fylingdales Moor


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010076

Date first listed: 23-Feb-1933

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Mar-1995


Ordnance survey map of Lilla Cross on Lilla Howe, Fylingdales Moor
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Ryedale (District Authority)

Parish: Allerston

County: North Yorkshire

District: Ryedale (District Authority)

Parish: Lockton

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: Goathland

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: LCPs of Fylingdales and Hawsker-cum-Stainsacre


National Grid Reference: SE 88923 98687

Reasons for Designation

A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone, mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD). Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm Sunday. Elsewhere, standing crosses were used within settlements as places for preaching, public proclamation and penance, as well as defining rights of sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between parishes, property, or settlements. A few crosses were erected to commemorate battles. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Crosses in market places may have helped to validate transactions. After the Reformation, some crosses continued in use as foci for municipal or borough ceremonies, for example as places for official proclamations and announcements; some were the scenes of games or recreational activity. Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft often set directly in the ground without a base. The most common form is the stepped cross, in which the shaft is set in a socket stone and raised upon a flight of steps; this type of cross remained current from the 11th to 12th centuries until after the Reformation. Where the cross-head survives it may take a variety of forms, from a lantern-like structure to a crucifix; the more elaborate examples date from the 15th century. Much less common than stepped crosses are spire-shaped crosses, often composed of three or four receding stages with elaborate architectural decoration and/or sculptured figures; the most famous of these include the Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I at the stopping places of the funeral cortege of his wife, who died in 1290. Also uncommon are the preaching crosses which were built in public places from the 13th century, typically in the cemeteries of religious communities and cathedrals, market places and wide thoroughfares; they include a stepped base, buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either a shaft and head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly to our understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns. All crosses which survive as standing monuments, especially those which stand in or near their original location, are considered worthy of protection.

Bowl barrows are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age and most examples date from the period 2400-1500BC. They were constructed as earthen or stone mounds, sometimes ditched which covered single or multiple burials. They often occupy prominent locations and hence have remained important elements in the landscape. Occasionally this led to their reuse at later periods. Their considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. A substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Lilla Cross standing cross is primarily important as a boundary marker for the lands of the abbey at Whitby. It also may be a commemoration of an Anglo-Saxon noble but not Lilla since the style of the cross is from the tenth century and Lilla was a hero of the eighth. Since it was selected as the boundary of four medieval parishes it has additional importance and helps us understand the date of the formation of the parish system in this area. It is also a waymarker for two medieval packhorse roads.

The barrow has been partly excavated and reveals an assemblage of Anglo-Saxon and Viking grave goods. This shows that both the cross and the burials played an important part in the early medieval Christian perception of the landscape.


The monument includes a standing cross on a bowl barrow on Fylingdales Moor, both of which are included in the scheduling. The cross stands at the junction of four medieval parishes and on the junction of the Old Salt Road and the Pannierman's Way, both medieval trackways linking Whitby with Robin Hood's Bay and Pickering. It also marked the bounds of an estate belonging to Whitby Abbey in AD 1078.

The monument comprises a standing cross which is earthfast. The cross is complete and carved out of a single slab of local medium-grained gritstone. It stands 2.2m high and at the base measures 0.59m wide and 0.32m thick. From the ground the slab tapers slightly to shoulders at 1.65m surmounted by a Maltese cross head 0.55m high and 0.49m wide. The shoulders are only 0.07m deep.

On the north face of the cross head is a letter G and on the south face a letter C with a cross cut beneath it. These are later additions to mark estate boundaries. Also on the west side are some graffiti.

The cross stands in its original position although moved and re-erected in 1962. It is of a late Anglo-Saxon type, probably of the 10th century. It is mentioned as a boundary in a Whitby charter of AD 1078-1120 granting them lands from the Percy family. It also marks the junction of four medieval parishes; Allerston, Fylingdales Moor, Goathland and Lockton. It stands on the junction of two medieval trackways and therefore serves as a waymarker.

The cross stands on a bowl barrow built of large stones and earth. The barrow was reused for burials in the Anglo-Saxon period and at least one of these produced objects of Scandinavian type when excavated.

The barrow has been badly damaged by tourists making cairns and stone shelters from the stones of the monument. It measures 20m in diameter and stands 1.25m high. It has been clipped on the north side by the erosion of the footpath beside it.

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: 25655

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hayes, R H, Old Roads and Pannierways in North East Yorkshire, (1988), 32
Wilson, D M, Anglo-Saxon Ornamental Metalwork AD 700-1100, (1964), 12
Wilson, D M, Anglo-Saxon Ornamental Metalwork AD 700-1100, (1964), 11
Watkin, J, Mann, F, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Some Late Saxon Finds from Lilla Howe and their Context, (1981), 153-157
Watkin, J, Mann, F, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Some Late Saxon Finds from Lilla Howe and their Context, (1981), 153-157

End of official listing