Esh Cross 150m north of Esh Hall


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016487

Date first listed: 21-Oct-1968

Date of most recent amendment: 02-Dec-1998


Ordnance survey map of Esh Cross 150m north of Esh Hall
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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: Esh

National Grid Reference: NZ 19695 43911


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

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.

Esh Cross is in fair condition. It is an important example of a 17th century cross, a period when few crosses were being erected. It is in its original position on a raised area of the village green and will retain archaeological information relating to the period of its construction.


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


The monument includes Esh Cross, which is situated at the southern end of Esh village green. The cross, which is listed Grade II, includes a cross head, shaft, socket stone resting on a box of ashlar, and a base. The shaft and cross head are one unit of stone, 1.2m in height. The arms of the cross are 0.6m wide. On the ends of each arm of the cross are flower motifs with six petals. On the east and west face of the cross head are oval plaques. The east plaque is 0.3m wide and 0.25m high, and contains the date of the cross (1687). This plaque is badly worn and only the `87' of the date is decipherable. The west plaque is 0.25m wide and 0.3m high and contains the letters `IHS'. The cross head has been broken off the shaft and repaired, 0.1m below the arms of the cross, marked by a cement repair. The shaft has also been broken 0.02m above the socket stone and cement repaired. The base of the shaft measures 0.25m north-south by 0.2m east-west and is cemented into a 0.3m by 0.3m socket in the socket stone. The socket stone is 1.15m north-south by 0.5m east-west by 0.35m in height. The socket stone rests on a box of ashlar blocks of the same horizontal dimensions as the socket stone and 0.6m in height. The box is surrounded by a flower border, edged with reused ashlar blocks, and measuring 2.5m north-south by 1.6m east-west. All components are composed of sandstone. The ground around the cross is raised in relation to the surrounding green and sandstone blocks are evident in the ground (1.5m south east of the cross) indicating the preservation of subsurface deposits. The monument is thought to be in its original position and is shown in its present position on the 1854 Ordnance Survey 1:2500 map.

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: 32041

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing