Standing cross on Prestbury Road, 150m south east of Lane End crossroads


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Standing cross on Prestbury Road, 150m south east of Lane End crossroads
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cheshire East (Unitary Authority)
Cheshire East (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 89725 75110

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 cross on Prestbury Road survives well and in close proximity to its original position and on the boundary of the old borough of Macclesfield and the parish of Prestbury. It is one of a rare local group of surviving Anglo- Saxon crosses in the east of Cheshire and north of Staffordshire. It is of a type known as Mercian round shaft crosses and dates from the tenth or 11th centuries.


The monument includes a standing cross on Prestbury Road on the boundary of the borough of Macclesfield and the parish of Prestbury. The cross stands close to its original position and was once incorporated into a stone wall on the north side of the road. It is on the line of a row of stone footings as this wall has since been replaced by a thorn hedge. The cross is a Mercian round shafted cross of the 10th or 11th centuries and is similar in style to the crosses found to the north of Macclesfield and now situated in West Park in the town. The cross stands 1.25m above the ground. It is cylindrical in shape with a diameter of 0.43m at ground level tapering slightly to a single roll moulded collar at 0.7m and the shaft is then cut into four facets to the broken top. There are faint traces of carved decoration on the north and west faces. The cross appears to have been buried so that at least 0.8m exists below the ground, and it may have a socket below this. This would accord with three examples now standing in West Park in Macclesfield which were also boundary crosses. In 1880 it was noted as standing 6ft high. Since it dates from the late Anglo-Saxon period it may have marked the boundary of the church or monastic estate centred on Prestbury. The surface of the footpath to the south is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath it is included. The cross is Listed Grade II.

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
Earwacker, JP, East Cheshire, (1880), 345
Higham, N J, The Origins of Cheshire, (1993), 172
Green, C, 'Trans Lancs and Chesh Arch Soc' in Trans Lancs and Chesh Arch Soc, (1941), 119
Cheshire County Council SMR, (1994)


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

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