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Authority English Heritage
Other Ref SM Cat. No. 181
Date assigned Friday, April 2, 1965
Date last amended Thursday, July 21, 1994


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. Although the carvings on the Anglo Scandinavian cross in St Thomas Becket churchyard are in only a fair state of preservation, the monument is a good example of a later high cross which displays evidence of the stylistic changes brought to this class of monument by the Viking settlement. In its original location, it probably acted as a wayside or boundary cross. DETAILS The monument is a late ninth or tenth century high cross located immediately west of the Church of St Thomas Becket. It comprises a rectangular sectioned gritstone shaft mortared into a modern red sandstone socle or socket stone. The shaft tapers towards both top and bottom and is broken just below the missing cross head leaving a fragment of a collar consisting of a wide ribbon of flat-band moulding. Other flat-band mouldings edge the angles of the shaft and frame panels of eroded interlace decoration on all four faces. The decoration on the west and east faces appears to have been divided into three smaller panels. The shaft is 137cm high by 38cm north-south by 19cm east-west and is so very similar in all respects to the Anglo Scandinavian cross in Bakewell churchyard that it is likely to have been carved by the same mason or workshop. The cross is not in its original location but was apparently moved from beside the Eccles Road between Chapel en le Frith and Whaley Bridge. Modern graves that fall within the scheduling, and the surface of the adjacent asphalt path, are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them is included. The cross is Listed Grade II. SELECTED SOURCES Article Reference - Author: Routh, T.E. - Date: 1937 - Journal Title: Derbyshire Archaeological Journal - Volume: 58 - Page References: 24-5 - Type: DESC TEXT

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Sources (1)

  • Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1965. Scheduling notification: Anglo Scandinavian high cross in the churchyard of St Thomas Becket Church. List entry no. 1008826. SM Cat. No. 181.



Grid reference Centred SK 0574 8084 (14m by 16m)
Map sheet SK08SE

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Record last edited

Aug 19 2015 5:46PM

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