Audley's Cross, 240m SSW of Audley's Cross Farmhouse
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 15-Jan-2021 at 23:17:39.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Newcastle-under-Lyme (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SJ 71452 35283
Reasons for Designation
A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone,
mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD).
Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as
stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm
Sunday. Elsewhere, standing crosses were used within settlements as places for
preaching, public proclamation and penance, as well as defining rights of
sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between
parishes, property, or settlements. A few crosses were erected to commemorate
battles. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and
protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Crosses in market
places may have helped to validate transactions. After the Reformation, some
crosses continued in use as foci for municipal or borough ceremonies, for
example as places for official proclamations and announcements; some were the
scenes of games or recreational activity.
Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have
numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation
has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and
religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by
iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval
standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The
oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft
often set directly in the ground without a base. The most common form is the
stepped cross, in which the shaft is set in a socket stone and raised upon a
flight of steps; this type of cross remained current from the 11th to 12th
centuries until after the Reformation. Where the cross-head survives it may
take a variety of forms, from a lantern-like structure to a crucifix; the more
elaborate examples date from the 15th century. Much less common than stepped
crosses are spire-shaped crosses, often composed of three or four receding
stages with elaborate architectural decoration and/or sculptured figures; the
most famous of these include the Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I at the
stopping places of the funeral cortege of his wife, who died in 1290. Also
uncommon are the preaching crosses which were built in public places from the
13th century, typically in the cemeteries of religious communities and
cathedrals, market places and wide thoroughfares; they include a stepped base,
buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either a shaft and
head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly to our
understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our
knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns. All crosses which
survive as standing monuments, especially those which stand in or near their
original location, are considered worthy of protection.
Audley's Cross is a rare example of a medieval standing cross erected for a specialised commemorative purpose on or close to the scene of an important historical event. It is believed to stand in or near to its original position, and limited disturbance of the area immediately surrounding the cross indicates that archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction are likely to survive intact. While parts of the cross survive from medieval times, subsequent restoration demonstrates its continued function as a memorial stone and a monument.
The monument includes Audley's Cross, a standing cross of medieval and later
date. The cross stands in an arable field SSW of Audley's Cross
Farm. The monument includes a base, consisting of a pedestal and a
socket-stone which date from a mid 18th century restoration, and a medieval
shaft and cross-head. The cross was also restored in the early 20th century.
The stone pedestal is square in plan and rests on a modern plinth. There is an
indistinct inscription on the northern face of the pedestal which records the
restoration of the cross in 1765 by Charles Boothby Skrymster. A socket-stone
stands on the pedestal. It is square in section at the base with sloping
offsets rising to a socket of rectangular section. Set into the socket-stone
is a stone shaft, also rectangular in section, which has been repaired. Above
the shaft is the cross-head which takes the form of a simple cross bar,
although the arms are not complete. The shaft and head are 1.2m high, while
the full height of the cross is approximately 2.7m.
Audley's Cross is believed to have been erected on, or close to, the site
where James Touchet, Lord Audley was killed during the Battle of Blore Heath,
which took place in 1459 between a Yorkist force commanded by Richard Neville,
Earl of Salisbury and a Lancastrian army under Lord Audley.
The modern railings surrounding 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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Twemlow, F R, The Battle of Blore Heath, (1912)
Pape, T, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Audley's Cross, , Vol. 66, (1932), 186
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing