Anglo-Scandinavian cross, 7m south of the south transept of the Church of the Holy Cross


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012653

Date first listed: 19-Dec-1947

Date of most recent amendment: 30-Jun-1995


Ordnance survey map of Anglo-Scandinavian cross, 7m south of the south transept of the Church of the Holy Cross
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Staffordshire

District: Staffordshire Moorlands (District Authority)

Parish: Ilam

National Park: PEAK DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: SK 13275 50680


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 cross located approximately 7m south of the south transept of the Church of the Holy Cross is a good example of a cross with Scandinavian-influenced ornamentation on the shaft and is one of a small number of early medieval crosses in Staffordshire that retain evidence for the form of the cross-head. Situated near the south porch of the church, it is believed to stand in or near its original position. Partial excavation of the area immediately surrounding the cross has indicated that archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction and use are likely to survive intact below ground level. The cross has not been restored and has continued in use as a public monument and amenity from at least the 11th century to the present day. The survival of a second cross in its original location within the same churchyard enhances the interest of this monument.


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


The monument includes part of an Anglo-Scandinavian cross located in the churchyard of the Church of the Holy Cross, approximately 7m south of the church. The cross which is early medieval in date and Listed Grade I, takes the form of a base, comprising a socket-stone, the shaft and part of the cross-head. The socket-stone was uncovered during an excavation around the base of the shaft at the end of the 19th century. It is now buried beneath the ground surface and is included in the scheduling. Set into the socket-stone is a stone shaft of cylindrical section at its base, tapering upwards to a collar or band, above which, the shaft continues to taper and has a rectangular section. Immediately below the collar, the shaft is ornamented in relief with a band of foliage which is thought to be a vine-scroll with leaves and flowers or fruit. The upper part of the shaft is divided into four panels of decoration containing simple ornamental patterns, of which three are differing types of interlacing while the fourth is a Greek key pattern. The top of the shaft narrows to form a distinct neck with sloping shoulders; above this, it broadens to form a circular boss which represents the remains of the cross-head. Approximately 14m to the south west of the cross are the standing remains of a second early medieval cross which is the subject of a separate scheduling. The burial monument on the south east side of the cross is excluded from the scheduling.

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: 21603

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Jeavons, S A, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Anglo-Saxon Cross-shafts in Staffordshire, , Vol. LXVI, (1946), 120
Pape, T, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Round shafted pre-Norman Crosses in North Staffordshire, , Vol. 80, (1946), 33

End of official listing