Cross shaft in the churchyard of St Peter's Church


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Cross shaft in the churchyard of St Peter's Church
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1012883 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 19-Oct-2019 at 07:55:08.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cheshire East (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 90086 76910

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 high cross in the churchyard at Prestbury is of a type uncommon in the immediate area. It is an interlaced carved cross shaft of a type associated with Anglian Christian settlement and is probably the product of a monastic school of sculpture. Similar carved monuments exist in churches in the western part of the county and also in the area of Bakewell in Derbyshire and the valley of the Derwent. The fragment of a cross head which is the upper stone of this reconstruction shows that it was originally a wheelhead cross. There is not enough of it to classify it by type or regional school. The monument provides the only physical indication of a Christian place of worship before the building of the Anglo-Norman chapel which lies to the south of the present church.


The monument comprises three fragments of sculptured stone cemented together, set up in a glass case in the churchyard. It stands at a junction of two flagged paths on a flagged base at a point 12m south of the south east corner of the chancel of St Peter's Church. There is an Anglo-Norman chapel 20m to the south of the present site of the cross. The structure stands 0.92m high on a modern sandstone plinth which is 0.29m high. There are three fragments cemented together of which the bottom two are pieces of the same cross shaft matching at the joint. The third piece is a fragment of a second cross, deriving from a point just below a circular head. The fragments in order from the base can be described as follows: the bottom segment measures 0.35m high and 0.27m by 0.43m at the base and tapers to 0.23m by 0.49m at the joint. It has a simple and damaged roll moulding along each upright corner and is decorated with interlace carving on each face. The middle section measures 0.33m high and tapers to 0.21m by 0.34m at the top. Again there are roll mouldings and interlace carved faces which match up with the carving of the fragment below. The carving is worn and damaged. The top section is wider, measures 0.4m across the west face and is 0.11m thick. The decoration on this fragment is of the same period of interlace as the other pieces but is not as well executed. The whole has been set up in a glass box with aluminium corners on a plinth of sandstone which supports the modern sandstone base of the monument. There are two bronze plates with explanatory text attached to the base inside this box. The cross fragments were found during restoration work on the church fabric in 1841. The monument stands amongst the oldest graves in this part of the original churchyard. Associated with it are a number of fragments of medieval stonework found during various restorations of the church. These do not form part of the monument. To the south is a fine late Anglo-Norman chapel built of a similar stone to that of the standing cross fragments. This does not form part of this monument. The cross fragments of the monument are an indication of previous Christian worship on this site and date to the ninth or tenth centuries at the latest. The modern plinth and the glass case which encloses the monument are included in the scheduling. The flagged path and tombstones are excluded, although the ground beneath them 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Richards, R, Old Cheshire Churches, (1947), 280-85


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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].