A late 8th century great cross shaft 8ft high and 21ft by 15ft base section tapering to the top; the head and a large piece from the bottom of the shaft are missing. Scheduled. (1-3)
Published 25" survey correct. (4)
The Great Cross (Churchyard Cross), late 8th century or early 9th in date monolith cross. A major pre-Norman cross with a panelled head, the whole enriched with magnificent scrollwork and a bas relief carving which is thought to show a combination of Christian and earlier pagan beliefs. Considered to have affinities with the cross at Ruthwell in Dumfriesshire. (5)
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 about 50cm north-south by 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. (9)
Apart from the large churchyard cross, there are 38 other fragments of Anglo-Saxon carved stones from an unknown number of monuments kept in the south porch and at the west end of the nave. Nearly all of the fragments are made from local stone, but at least two of the fragments appear to be in Jurassic Limestone and may be from elsewhere. (10)
An excavation of the area immediately surrounding the cross was carried out in 2012 as part of a conservation programme, and to determine if the stone was in its original location. Two slit trenches were excavated, around part of the socket stone and around the railings. The first was excavated to a depth of 1m revealing the base of the socket stone and archaeological features and deposits running below it, including a large wall foundation running east - west. A burial was found below this foundation. 'The excavation also established the extent of the socket stones current inclination which may have caused by earth movement during the process of burial decomposition beneath the stone. A brick-lined grave of possible 19th century date was also perceptible abutting the stone.' A number of well preserved burials were observed in the second trench, including that of an adult female with remains of a neonate, that produced a radiocarbon date of 1030 - 1210 cal AD. Another burial had traces of corroded metal over their chest indicating post medieval coffin plating. The stratigraphic sequence demonstrated that the cross shaft was not in its original 8th or 9th century position, and that it had been erected at some time in the post medieval period. (11)
From the National Heritage List for England:
SK2168 SOUTH CHURCH STREET 831-1/4/169 (North side (off)) 13/03/51 The Great Cross and railed enclosure (Formerly Listed as: SOUTH CHURCH STREET (North side) The Great Cross (Churchyard Cross))
Cross shaft. Saxon, early C9; enclosure early C19. Gritstone; wrought-iron railings. Small railed enclosure set around deeply-chamfered socket stone to monolithic cross shaft with panelled head. The shaft is enriched with vine scrolls and bas-relief carvings of animals and humans thought to show a combination of Christian and pagan beliefs. Considered to have affinities with cross at Rothwell, Dumfries and Galloway. Railings: square rods with arrowhead finials, standards with vase finials. The cross is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, Derbyshire County Number 70.
Listing NGR: SK2157068464.'
Article in serial: Routh, T. 1937. 'A corpus of the pre-Conquest carved stones of Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 58, pp 1-46. pp 5-7.
Article in serial: Hodges, D. 1978. Derbyshire Origins. pp 32-33.
Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 0137. 0137.
Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1994. Scheduling Notification: Anglian High Cross in the churchyard of All Saints Church. Cat. No.: 70.
Correspondence: Sidebottom, P. 1994. Letter regarding Anglo-Saxon stone monuments in Derbyshire, 15th February, 1994. Letter.
Unpublished document: Mora-Ottomano, A (ARS Ltd). 2012. The High Cross at Bakewell Churchyard, Derbyshire: Archaeological Excavation.
Listed Building File: Historic England. 2011. The National Heritage List for England. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1316492.
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SK 21570 68464 (point) (Centre)
BAKEWELL, DERBYSHIRE DALES, DERBYSHIRE
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Record last edited
Feb 28 2020 12:04AM
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