Anglo-Scandinavian cross, 12m south of the south porch of the Church of the Holy Cross


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012654

Date first listed: 19-Dec-1947

Date of most recent amendment: 30-Jun-1995


Ordnance survey map of Anglo-Scandinavian cross, 12m south of the south porch of the Church of the Holy Cross
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. 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: Staffordshire

District: Staffordshire Moorlands (District Authority)

Parish: Ilam

National Park: PEAK DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: SK 13262 50676


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 12m south of the south porch of the Church of the Holy Cross is one of only a small number of early medieval crosses in Staffordshire that retain evidence for the form of the cross-head. It also provides important evidence for regional variations in the decorative motifs found on crosses, in particular, the concentric circular pattern on the shaft is rarely found in England and is believed to be Scandinavian in origin. Situated near the south porch of the church, it is believed to stand in or near its original position. Limited activity immediately surrounding the cross indicates that archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction and use are likely to survive intact. The modern repairs to the cross-shaft illustrate the continued use of the cross 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 in the same churchyard enhances the interest of the 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, Ilam, approximately 12m south of the south porch. The cross is early medieval in date with modern repairs. It is Listed Grade I and includes the socket-stone, the shaft and part of the cross-head. The socket-stone is square in section although its dimensions are currently unobtainable without disturbing the ground surface. Set into the socket-stone is a stone shaft, of tapering rectangular section, which has been repaired. Each face of the shaft is divided by double curved mouldings into four ornamental panels; outlined by plain borders. The upper two panels on each face are decorated with interlacing ornament of various degrees of complexity; simplest in the narrow panels at the top of the north and south faces, and more complex in the broader west and east faces. The third panels from the top on the east and west sides of the shaft have similar decoration, and consist of three concentric circles interlaced with semicircular bands. The corresponding panels on the north and south faces are carved with interlaced Stafford knots. The lower panel on the east face is decorated with two birds, while that on the west face has three human figures with bodies formed by interlaced plaitwork. The decoration within the lower panels of the north and south faces are thought to contain interlacing plaitwork. The top of the shaft widens to form part of the cross-head, enough of which remains visible to indicate that the four arms were originally decorated with an interlacing pattern and were connected to each other by a wheel or circle. The full height of the cross is 2.2m. Approximately 14m north east of the cross is a further early medieval cross which is the subject of a separate scheduling. The grave markers on the north and south sides of the cross are 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: 21604

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Brown, Prof B, 'Arts in Early England' in Arts in Early England, , Vol. 6, (1945), 272
Jeavons, S A, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Anglo-Saxon Cross-shafts in Staffordshire, , Vol. LXVI, (1946), 114
Pape, T, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Rectangular-shafted pre-Norman crosses of North Staffordshire, , Vol. 81, (1947), 37

End of official listing