Unfinished high cross shaft on Long Bar 580m north east of Todcrag Loch


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016397

Date first listed: 22-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of Unfinished high cross shaft on Long Bar 580m north east of Todcrag Loch
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Carlisle (District Authority)

Parish: Bewcastle

National Grid Reference: NY 59270 80653


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 stone used for high crosses in Cumbria was usually derived from a local quarry, and the unfinished cross shaft on Long Bar provides unique evidence for this system of production.


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


The monument includes a recumbent unfinished high cross shaft located on the summit of Long Bar 580m north east of Todcrag Loch. The shaft is a tapering block of grey sandstone cut from the outcrop on three sides but still attached at the base. It is split at the broader section of the stone and measures 5.03m long by 0.93m wide tapering to 0.25m, and measures 0.95m in depth tapering to 0.37m. The taper on the cross shaft and its close similarity in dimensions to the late seventh/early eighth century high cross shaft in Bewcastle churchyard approximately 6.6km to the SSW, have led to the conclusion that this is an unfinished sister monument which split when it was being cut free from its bed, and that the surviving Bewcastle Cross is its successor which was safely cut and transported down to the churchyard.

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: 27798

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Bailey, R N, Cramp, R, Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, (1988), 162

End of official listing