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Authority English Heritage
Other Ref SM Cat. No. 70
Date assigned Thursday, April 21, 1994
Date last amended Thursday, April 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. This cross in the churchyard of Bakewell parish church, although not complete, is a fine example of an early high cross with a collared shaft. Although the state of preservation of its decoration is variable, it illustrates well the forms of ornament typical of crosses of the Anglian period. DETAILS The monument is a Grade I Listed Anglian high cross and probably dates to the eighth century AD when Bakewell was a royal centre. It includes a collared shaft and a large boulder into which the shaft is set. Originally, a cross head would have surmounted the shaft above the collar but this is now missing. It is also not clear whether the boulder is the original base. The sandstone shaft is of rectangular section and tapers slightly towards the collar. The angles of both shaft and collar are edged with flat-band mouldings which create panels for the raised decoration which entirely covers the cross. Both typical and rarer forms of ornament are represented. On the south, east and north faces of the shaft, these include vine scrolls with leaves and berry bunches. On the north face of the collar, part of an interlace pattern survives while a hunting motif is apparent on the east faces of both shaft and collar. On the latter this is represented by the remains of a left-facing figure mounted on a cantering horse. On the shaft, immediately below the collar, is a scene in which one animal, possibly a deer, has been brought down by a hound or, alternatively, given its tufted tail, a lion or wolf. At the bottom of the shaft a bent bow and arrow points upward, aiming through the foliage at the two animals. The decoration on the west side of the cross comprises several panels of figural carving which do not survive well though they can still be made out. The best preserved is on the collar. This is a crucifixion scene consisting of a chequered convex band, representing Calvary, on which stands the cross flanked by two figures interpreted as the Virgin and St John. The upper section of the scene has been lost to erosion but Christ's legs are depicted on the surviving portion of the cross. Below the crucifixion is a panel containing two standing figures while, beneath this, is a pieta; that is, a representation of the Virgin holding the dead Christ across her lap. The panel below this one appears to contain the Madonna and Child while the lowest scene seems to show Christ being laid in the tomb. Interpretation of the figural carvings is aided by a 19th century engraving by J H LeKeux which suggests that the scenes were much clearer a hundred years ago than they are today. Because the cross is fenced off no accurate measurements are available. At its broadest the shaft appears to measure c.50cm north-south by c.30cm east-west and, including the collar, is over 2m high. However, the lack of a figure holding the bow at the bottom of the east face indicates that a sizeable section is missing and that, originally, it was probably some 3m tall. The cross head would have added extra height making the cross between 3.5m and 4m high. The cross's iconographic ornament and current location in a churchyard suggests a possible liturgical role though the hunting motif may indicate an alternative function. Excluded from the scheduling are the iron railings and plinth enclosing the cross, except where the railings are set directly into the boulder, the surface of the path to the east of the cross and the surrounding graves and gravestones, although the ground beneath these features is included. SELECTED SOURCES Book Reference - Title: Victoria County History: Derby I - Date: 1905 - Volume: 1 - Page References: 287 - Type: DESC TEXT Book Reference - Author: Cox, Rev. J.C. - Title: The Churches of Derbyshire - Volume: 2 - Page References: 37 - Type: DESC TEXT Book Reference - Author: LeKeux, J.H. - Type: ILLUSTRATION - Description: Engraving of west side of cross Book Reference - Author: Tudor, T.L. - Title: The High Peak to Sherwood - Page References: 302-3 - Type: DESC TEXT Article Reference - Author: Routh, T.E. - Title: A corpus of pre-Conquest carved stones in Derbyshire - Date: 1937 - Journal Title: Derbyshire Archaeological Journal - Volume: 58 - Page References: 5-7 - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: Illustrated

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Sources (1)

  • Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1994. Scheduling notification: Anglian high cross in the churchyard of All Saints' Church. List entry no. 1008617. SM Cat. No. 70.



Grid reference Centred SK 21576 68466 (10m by 10m)
Map sheet SK26NW

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Record last edited

Mar 18 2015 4:45PM

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