Anglo-Scandinavian cross, 11m east of St Edward's Church

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012656

Date first listed: 02-Dec-1964

Date of most recent amendment: 13-Jul-1995

Map

Ordnance survey map of Anglo-Scandinavian cross, 11m east of St Edward's Church
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Staffordshire

District: Staffordshire Moorlands (District Authority)

Parish: Leek

National Grid Reference: SJ 98352 56627

Summary

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 11m east of St Edward's Church is one of the finest examples of an early medieval cylindrical-type cross in Staffordshire. It provides important evidence for both the Scandinavian and Anglian forms of ornamentation and is one of a small number of early medieval crosses in the county that retain evidence for the form of the cross-head. The early medieval cross-shaft has not been restored and its erection within the churchyard has ensured the continued use of the cross as a public monument and amenity. The survival of a second cross within the same churchyard enhances the interest of this monument.

History

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

Details

The monument is located 11m east of St Edward's Church and includes part of an Anglo-Scandinavian cross which is Listed Grade II. It includes a socket-stone, of modern date, and a shaft and part of the cross-head which date from the early medieval period. The socket-stone is roughly square in section and measures 1.1m north-south and 1.4m east-west. Set into the socket-stone is a stone shaft of cylindrical section at its base, tapering upwards to a 22cm wide collar or band, above which the shaft continues to taper and is of rectangular section. Immediately below the collar, the shaft is ornamented with pendants of scroll-work, whilst the collar itself is decorated with a band of interlace. The upper part of the shaft is divided into four panels which are decorated with scrolls, interlace and fretwork. The top of the shaft narrows to form a distinct neck with sloping shoulders; above this, it broadens to form a boss which represents the remains of the cross-head. The full height of the cross is approximately 2.7m. Approximately 25m south west of the cross are the standing remains of a second early medieval cross which is the subject of a separate scheduling. The paving and gravestones around 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. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 21606

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Pape, T, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Round shafted pre-Norman Crosses in North Staffordshire, , Vol. 80, (1946), 35

End of official listing