Anglo-Scandinavian cross in St Peter's churchyard
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1012667
Date first listed: 13-Nov-1963
Date of most recent amendment: 09-Jun-1995
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Feb-2019 at 18:42:20.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: City of Stoke-on-Trent (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: SJ 87887 45168
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
The cross to the south west of St Peter's Church is a good example of an early medieval cross with Scandinavian-influenced ornamentation on the shaft. Situated in the churchyard, where it was discovered in 1876, the cross provides information on the variability of form and decoration of these types of monument. While part of the cross-shaft survives from early medieval times, subsequent restoration illustrates the continued function of the cross as a public monument and amenity.
The monument includes part of an Anglo-Scandinavian cross located in the
churchyard of St Peter's Church, Stoke on Trent, approximately 40m south west
of the church. The cross which is Listed Grade II, includes a base of two
steps and a socket-stone, both of early 20th century date, and part of an
early medieval stone shaft.
The steps are square in plan and constructed of stone blocks. An inscription
on the eastern face of the second step records the restoration and re-erection
of the cross in 1935. On this step stands the socket-stone, square in section,
with chamfered corners. Set into the socket-stone is a Millstone Grit shaft of
rectangular section tapering towards the top. It stands to a height of
approximately 1.2m and is believed to be the angular upper portion of a
cross-shaft of which the lower part is thought to have been cylindrical. All
four sides are decorated, although part of the key pattern ornamentation on
the northern face has been cut away. The east face shows the design of a
debased vine-scroll; the west face has a double row of Stafford knots; and a
plaitwork of interlacing bands is visible on the south side of the shaft.
The paving and railings immediately surrounding the cross are excluded from
the scheduling although the ground beneath these features 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: 21597
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Jeavons, S A, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Anglo-Saxon Cross-shafts in Staffordshire, , Vol. LXVI, (1946), 115
Pape, T, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Round shafted pre-Norman Crosses in North Staffordshire, , Vol. 80, (1946), 37
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