Lord Dacre's Cross or Towton Cross on the west side of the B1217, 1km south west of Towton


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011967

Date first listed: 23-Jun-1995


Ordnance survey map of Lord Dacre's Cross or Towton Cross on the west side of the B1217, 1km south west of Towton
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Selby (District Authority)

Parish: Saxton with Scarthingwell

National Grid Reference: SE 47796 38627


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 important.

The Towton cross is an important commemorative cross. It survives well and has been sensitively restored on its original site. The original carving is elegant and has a 15th century style which is related to the church buildings of this period. It serves as a reminder of the piety expected of the medieval traveller, standing beside a main road. It also gives insight into the late medieval importance attached to the Battle of Towton.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a high cross erected beside the B1217 road from Towton village to Garforth. The cross was erected on this site to commemorate the Battle of Towton, a decisive engagement during the Wars of the Roses. The battle was fought in 1461 and this gives a date for its erection. The cross consists of a cross-head, a medieval stone base and a modern shaft. The base is set in a modern concrete plinth and a plaque is affixed to the plinth on the north side reading "Battle of Towton 1461". The base is of yellow fine-grained York stone. It stands 0.4m high and measures 0.69m by 0.69m at the bottom and tapers to 0.53m by 0.53m at the top edge. The shoulders of the base are chamfered for 0.16m. The shaft, a modern addition, is cut from the same stone standing 1.7m from the base to the projecting shoulder of the wheelheaded cross. It measures 0.35m by 0.28m at the base and tapers to 0.25m by 0.21m at the head. The head is 0.62m high and is in the form of a Maltese cross set in a wheelhead, with the arms of the cross projecting 0.08m from the edge of the wheel. There is also a projecting shoulder below the head. The top of the cross is fractured away. The base has an inscription, cut later in the history of the monument, "Battle of Towton Palm Sunday 1461". The cross stands 5m to the west of the B1217 road and a droveway runs beside it heading west. This has a metalled surface. The shaft was inserted in the base and the cross restored with its concrete plinth by Mr J R Ogden in 1929. It is also Listed Grade II. The cross and the plinth are included in the scheduling. The surface of the adjacent track is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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: 25665

Legacy System: RSM


North York Moors National Park S.M.R., (1994)

End of official listing