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Anglo-Scandinavian cross fragment, St Peter's churchyard

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Anglo-Scandinavian cross fragment, St Peter's churchyard

List entry Number: 1012669

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Staffordshire

District: Staffordshire Moorlands

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Alstonefield

National Park: PEAK DISTRICT

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 21-Dec-1964

Date of most recent amendment: 12-Jun-1995

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 21599

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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 to the south west of St Peter's Church in Alstonefield is a good example of an early medieval cross with Scandinavian-influenced ornamentation on the shaft. It provides information on the variability of form and decoration of these monuments and the interplay between the different sculptural influences of the Anglo-Scandinavian period. The base is thought to be in or near its original location and, although part of the cross survives from early medieval times, the re-erection of the shaft in the mid 19th century illustrates the continued function of the cross as a public monument and amenity.

History

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

Details

The monument includes part of a Anglo-Scandinavian stone cross located in the churchyard of St Peter's Church in Alstonefield, approximately 15m east of the north porch. The cross, which is Listed Grade II*, takes the form of a base, comprising a socket-stone of medieval date; and part of an early medieval shaft. The socket-stone is roughly 0.3m square in section with moulded corners of a type which are characteristic of the medieval period. It has a rectangular hole cut in its top which is slightly too large for the present shaft. The rectangular-sectioned shaft was discovered within the churchyard in the mid 19th century and re-erected in the socket-stone. It stands to a height of 0.7m and is carved in pink Millstone Grit. It is decorated on three of its four sides, and although the shaft itself is not tapered, the panels of decoration are narrower towards the top of the shaft fragment. The east face is decorated with an interlaced plaitwork of six strands which is thought to finish at the base, where the bottom of the panel is defined by a single strand. The top of this eastern panel is incomplete. The southern face is carved with interlaced plaitwork with bands of moulding on either side of the panel. Of the northern and western sides of the shaft, the decoration is less easily discernible, the west side retaining traces of knotwork within its upper portion. The modern brick-built drain to the west of the cross is 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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Pape, T, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Rectangular-shafted pre-Norman crosses of North Staffordshire, , Vol. 81, (1947), 22-23
Other
Sidebottom, P., Monuments at Risk Report, (1993)

National Grid Reference: SK 13288 55361

Map

Map
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End of official listing