Ryton village cross 160m south east of church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018642

Date first listed: 30-Nov-1950

Date of most recent amendment: 02-Dec-1998


Ordnance survey map of Ryton village cross 160m south east of church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Gateshead (Metropolitan Authority)

National Grid Reference: NZ 15197 64702


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.

Ryton cross is believed to be the site of a cross prior to the 1795 cross of Thomas Chancer. It is locally important as the focal point of the Ryton Hirings and is associated with John and Charles Wesley, who preached here in the eighteenth century.


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


The monument includes Ryton village cross, which is situated on the village green. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is constructed of sandstone and has a three step base, box, shaft and cross head. The base is 3.9m by 3.9m at ground level and 2.5m by 2.5m at the top. The steps have been strengthened by the addition of iron cramps leaded into the steps. The top step stones are worn on the inner side of their tops and some have been grooved to assist drainage. The box is 1m by 1m and 1m high. It consists of three courses, each course containing three 1m long ashlar stones. The courses are laid in alternate directions. The top course is chamfered. The date stone is 0.72m by 0.72m and 0.25m tall. It has the date `1795' on its north and south face. On the east and west faces there are inset plaques, the contents of which are not discernible. The shaft is modern, about 5m tall and surmounted by a modern 1.5m cross with octagonal shaft and arms. The base of the shaft has the date `1951' on its north and south face. The cross head replaced in 1951 now stands in the grounds of Tyndale House, Ryton and is not included in the scheduling. The shaft has not been located. The cross and shaft are dated to 1795 and were erected by Thomas Chancer, a well known mason in Ryton. Ryton cross was used for preaching by Charles Wesley in October 1742 and by John Wesley in June 1757, which confirms the existence of a cross prior to the erection of Thomas Chancer's 1795 cross. The cross has been used as the focal point for the Ryton Hirings which were held twice a year, in May and November. The kerbed path where it falls within the protection margin of the cross is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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: 32049

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Bourn, W, History of the Parish of Ryton, (1896), 33-35
Rippeth, N G, Ryton in Old Picture Postcards, (1988)

End of official listing