The Butter Cross, 700m north east of Stile House Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012666

Date first listed: 27-Apr-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Jun-1995


Ordnance survey map of The Butter Cross, 700m north east of Stile House Farm
© 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: Bradnop

National Grid Reference: SK 01841 56659


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

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.

The Butter Cross north east of Stile House Farm is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a stepped base. Situated in an isolated location, it is believed to stand in or near its original position and archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction and use in this location are likely to survive intact. The cross has been little altered in modern times and has continued in use as an important landmark.


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


The monument includes a standing stone cross, known locally as the Butter Cross, located 700m north east of Stile House Farm. The cross, Listed Grade II, is of stepped form and is thought to be late medieval in date with modern repairs. The monument includes the base, consisting of two steps, and a socket-stone and the shaft. The steps are circular in plan, the lower constructed of gritstone blocks while the upper step has been constructed from a single stone block. On this step stands the socket-stone which is octagonal in section and now held together by iron cramps. Set into the socket-stone is the tapering, stone shaft, also octagonal in section. Alternate faces of the shaft have stops near the base so that it is square for the bottom 100mm where it slots into the socket-stone. The shaft is approximately 2.5m high and its apex has been worked into a tenon onto which the head would have originally fitted. The present height of the cross is approximately 3.2m high.

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: 21596

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Dudcalf, F M, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club, , Vol. 79, (1945), 101
Department of the Environment, District of Staffordshire Moorlands - Greenback, (1985)

End of official listing