Anglo-Scandinavian cross, 240m south west of Ilam Hall


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012655

Date first listed: 30-Sep-1935

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Jun-1995


Ordnance survey map of Anglo-Scandinavian cross, 240m south west of Ilam Hall
© 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 12869 50579


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 240m south west of Ilam Hall is a good example of an early medieval cross with Scandinavian-influenced ornamentation on the shaft. The cross provides a valuable insight into the regional and chronological variations of the ornamentation present on these types of monument. While the shaft has survived from the early medieval period, the subsequent restoration of the base and socket-stone illustrate the continued function of the cross as a public monument and amenity.


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


The monument is located within the grounds of Ilam Hall and includes part of an Anglo-Scandinavian cross which is early medieval and later in date. The monument includes a base and a socket-stone, which are early 19th century in date, and a shaft. The base is roughly square in section and has been constructed of masonry blocks. The socket-stone is a single stone block which also has a square section with chamfered corners. Set into the socket-stone is a stone shaft of tapering, rectangular section. It now stands to a height of 1.6m although a fracture at the top of the shaft indicates that it was originally taller. The four sides of the shaft are decorated, and these carvings can be closely paralleled with those visible on an early medieval cross in the churchyard in Checkley, Staffordshire. The upper panel of the south face is decorated with three human figures with bodies represented by plaitwork interlacement and this design is repeated within the corresponding panel of the north face. The decoration of the lower panel of the south face is now indecipherable but that on the north face has a pattern of three concentric circles, interlaced with four semicircles. The east and west faces are weathered, although the upper panel of the east face is decorated with a pattern of Stafford knots. On the west face of the shaft, the upper panel is also ornamented with three human figures with plaitwork bodies, while the only identifiable ornament on the lower panel is a triqueta. The cross is traditionally known as the Battle Stone and tradition suggests that it was originally erected to commemmorate the struggles between the Saxons and the Danes. The fence posts which surround the cross are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 21605

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Jeavons, S A, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Anglo-Saxon Cross-shafts in Staffordshire, , Vol. 66, (1946), 115
Pape, T, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Rectangular-shafted pre-Norman crosses of North Staffordshire, , Vol. 81, (1947), 36

End of official listing