Rey Cross, 670m west of Old Spital


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016467

Date first listed: 09-Oct-1981

Date of most recent amendment: 19-Mar-1999


Ordnance survey map of Rey Cross, 670m west of Old Spital
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Bowes

National Grid Reference: NY 90470 12284


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.

In spite of the fact that it has been moved from its original position, Rey Cross survives reasonably well and is considered to be a good example of its type.


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


The monument includes a standing cross of early medieval date, situated near the highest point of Stainmore close to an ancient county boundary. The weathered sandstone cross is visible as part of a stone shaft and a stone cross base. The rectangular cross base measures 0.6m by 0.7m and is 0.4m deep. The shaft stands 0.68m high and is 0.29m by 0.26m thick at its base. The top of the shaft has slightly rounded edges and the top of each face thickens slightly. Rey Cross was moved in 1990 from a position south of the A66 to its new position north of the new A66 dual- carriageway. Antiquarian accounts and ancient documents suggest that the cross was originally of cruciform shape, decorated in Viking style, although today it appears undecorated. Documents also show that in 1258 the cross served as a boundary marker for the Diocese of Glasgow. The name `Rey' is thought to have been derived from the Old Norse element `hreyrr' which can be taken to mean a heap of stones forming a boundary. Rey Cross is Listed Grade II*. The wooden fence and the plinth containing the official notice board are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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: 32713

Legacy System: RSM


Vyner. et al, The Archaeology of the Stainmore Pass (Draft Report),

End of official listing