Anglo-Scandinavian cross, All Saints' churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012662

Date first listed: 13-Nov-1963

Date of most recent amendment: 12-Jun-1995


Ordnance survey map of Anglo-Scandinavian cross, All Saints' churchyard
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Staffordshire

District: Stafford (District Authority)

Parish: Chebsey

National Grid Reference: SJ 85984 28575


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 at Chebsey is a good example of an early medieval cross with Scandinavian-influenced ornamentation on the shaft. 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 failed to locate the bottom of the shaft, indicating that archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction and use are likely to survive intact at some depth below the present ground surface. 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.


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


The monument includes part of an Anglo-Scandinavian stone cross located in the churchyard of All Saints' Church, approximately 17m south east of the south porch. The monument includes the shaft, fashioned from Millstone Grit, and is early medieval in date. The shaft is circular in section at its base, tapering upwards to a collar or band, 12cm deep. This is ornamented with plaited strands. Above the collar, the shaft, still tapering, has a rectangular section and the four sides define panels of decoration. The north and east sides of the upper part of the shaft have similar carvings, a pair of intertwined oval rings above which is a debased vine-scroll design. The west side has interlaced plaitwork, whilst the ornament on the south side of the shaft is now badly eroded. In modern times the ground surrounding the cross has been excavated to a depth of 0.5m in an attempt to locate the base stone; however, the bottom of the shaft was not located. The cross stands approximately 2.2m above present ground level. The stone blocks lining the pit in which the cross now sits 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 1 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: 21592

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 Round shafted pre-Norman Crosses in North Staffordshire, , Vol. 80, (1946), 32

End of official listing