Anglian high cross fragment known as Walton Cross


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012873

Date first listed: 23-Mar-1927

Date of most recent amendment: 16-May-1995


Ordnance survey map of Anglian high cross fragment known as Walton Cross
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Kirklees (Metropolitan Authority)

National Grid Reference: SE 17614 23792


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.

Walton Cross is an important example of an Anglian high cross still in its original location. Its rough design and crude but extremely rich carvings are of great art-historical importance and not only illustrate well the influence of Scandinavian art-forms on this type of monument but also suggest secular patronage. Although deteriorating, it is still in reasonably well-preserved condition and is an important indicator of further surviving Anglo-Scandinavian remains in this locality.


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


The monument includes the remains of the Anglian high cross known as Walton Cross and comprises the socle or socket stone of the cross set on a gritstone slab. Originally, a stone shaft and cross head would have been set into the socle. Part of the missing component is purported to have been found in a nearby field in the early 1980s. The socle consists of a crudely dressed but elaborately decorated gritstone block. It averages c.1.06m high and tapers asymmetrically towards the top which measures c.75cm by 55cm. In the top there is a rectangular socket hole measuring c.40cm by 30cm by 15cm. The base of the socle measures c.1m by 80cm. Neither the base nor the top are perfectly square. The base of the socle has a battered skirt comprising four uneven lines of roll-moulding. The bottom line is the thickest and, beneath this, the socle tapers inwards towards the slab on which it stands. There is a band of three lines of roll-moulding below the top edge of the socle and barley-twist mouldings down each corner. Both roll- and flat band moulding are used to frame decorative panels on each of the four faces. On the north and south faces, the ornamentation takes the form of differing styles of interlace with that on the south face forming a continuous pattern while that on the north face is arranged in a series of vertical and horizontal plaits. On the west face two zoomorphic forms sit at the bottom corners of the panel supporting a disc containing knotwork and framed by interlace trefoils of the type known as triquetrae. The disc is pierced off-centre by a 5cm wide hole. The east face is the most richly decorated of the four and includes a centre panel enclosed by a border of alternating bands of plaiting and mixed roll- and barley-twist moulding. Within the panel is a so-called `Tree of Life' comprising spiral branches emerging horizontally from a central stem. Faint traces of two bird-forms can be seen on either side of the tree while beneath it are two double scrolls. The precise age of the cross is not known but the style of decoration displays Scandinavian influence and so it is likely to be of late ninth or tenth century date. Its precise function is also unclear though it may have marked an ecclesiastical or territorial boundary. An alternative possibility is that it is a cenotaph and marks an Anglo-Scandinavian grave within a larger cemetery. The buried remains of this cemetery will survive around the cross but are not included in the scheduling as their existence has not been verified. In addition to being scheduled the cross is Grade II* Listed. The surrounding wooden fence is excluded from the scheduling though the ground underneath it is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 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: 23375

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Collingwood, W G, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in Anglian and Anglo-Danish Sculpture, , Vol. 23, (1915), 250-253
Turner, J H, 'Old Yorkshire' in Walton Cross, (1883), 100-101
For British Museum, Hanna, Seamus, (1982)
In SMR, Faull, M L, (1982)
In SMR, Thornbarrow, P, (1986)
Shackleton Hill, Angela, (1994)

End of official listing