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The Giant's Grave - Two Anglian cross-shafts and four hogback stones in St Andrew's churchyard, Penrith

A Scheduled Monument in Penrith, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.6643 / 54°39'51"N

Longitude: -2.7512 / 2°45'4"W

OS Eastings: 351639.653709

OS Northings: 530167.684385

OS Grid: NY516301

Mapcode National: GBR 9G7H.5S

Mapcode Global: WH81B.Q124

Entry Name: The Giant's Grave - Two Anglian cross-shafts and four hogback stones in St Andrew's churchyard, Penrith

Scheduled Date: 13 April 1949

Last Amended: 20 January 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007629

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23661

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Penrith

Built-Up Area: Penrith

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Penrith St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument is two Anglian cross shafts and four hogback stones - known
locally as The Giant's Grave - located in St Andrew's churchyard, Penrith. It
includes a pair of tenth century Anglian cross shafts situated at the east and
west sides of a setting of four hogback stones of similar date. The cross
shafts and hogbacks are all constructed of local red sandstone. The western
cross shaft stands in its original socket hole, measures c.3.6m tall, and
tapers towards the top. It is of rectangular cross section in its upper part
and rounded cross section in its lower part. All sides except the east display
interlaced decoration on the rectangular part of the shaft above a horizontal
band of interlacing at the point where the shaft becomes rounded. The top of
the shaft has remains of a single arm of the cross head. The eastern cross
shaft is of similar height and cross section as the western cross. It displays
interlaced decoration on the rectangular part of the shaft on three faces but
on the west face displays, from the top, an animal, a human figure, and
interlace. Immediately below this decoration on all faces the cross shaft
becomes rounded and displays a band of horizontal interlacing. The top of the
shaft has remains of three arms of the cross head. The south-east hogback
measures c.1.8m long and displays a decoration of interlacing and tenth
century Anglian scroll. The south-west hogback also measures c.1.8m long and
displays a heavily weathered decoration of four different types of interlacing
plus a small human figure on its eastern end. The north-west hogback measures
c.2m long and displays a heavily weathered decoration of a serpent and a human
figure interpreted as Christ. The north-east hogback is too weathered to
identify any decoration.
Local tradition states that the monument is associated with Ewan, variously
known as Owen, Caesarius, Ewain Caesarius, Owain Caesarius, Eugenius, or Hugh,
who was elected King of Cumberland in AD 920 and died in AD 975.
The footpath adjacent to the monument is excluded from the scheduling, but the
ground beneath is included.

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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

High crosses, frequently heavily decorated, were erected in a variety of
locations in the eighth, ninth and tenth centuries AD. They are found
throughout western and northern England, although they are particularly
concentrated in the north. Surviving examples are all of carved stone but it
is known that decorated timber crosses were also used for similar purposes.
Such crosses comprise shafts supporting carved cross heads. They might be set
within a carved stone base. The cross heads were frequently small; the broad
cross shafts being the main feature of the cross. They were erected in a
variety of locations and appear to have served a variety of functions. Some
are associated with established churches and monasteries and may mark burial
places; focal points used in religious services, or the boundaries of
ecclesiastical land holdings. Others may have marked routeways or other
gathering points for local communities. All examples tend to be heavily
decorated, the patterns and ornaments used drawing on wider artistic
traditions of the time. Patterns of interlace are common, some depicted as
'vine scrolls', tendrils of growth of the grape vine, sometimes complete with
leaves. On the most developed examples this 'vine scroll' is shown to be
inhabited by a variety of birds and animals. Panels depicting figures and
animals are also commonly found; on occasion these depict Biblical scenes or
personages. This carved ornamentation was often painted in a variety of
colours, although traces of these colourings now survive only rarely.
The earliest examples were created and erected by native inhabitants; later
examples are heavily influenced by Viking art styles and mythology, and their
creation can be related to the Viking infiltration and settlement of the north
of England. Several distinct regional groupings and regional types have been
identified; some being the product of single 'schools' of craftsmen.
Around 200 examples of such crosses have been identified. This is likely to
represent only a small portion of those originally erected. Some were defaced
or destroyed during bouts of iconoclasm in the late medieval period. Others
fell out of use and were taken down and reused in new building works. They
provide an important insight into art traditions and changing art styles. The
figured panels provide information on religious beliefs. The Viking period
stones contribute to studies of the impact of the Scandinavian newcomers into
the north of England. All well preserved examples will be identified as
nationally important.
Hogback stones, frequently heavily decorated, are Anglo-Saxon or Scandinavian
tomb markers of the eighth, ninth and tenth centuries AD. They are constructed
of stone and have a narrow ridge and steeply sloping sides. They are thought
to mark the burial places of prominent local people and as such are to be
found in, or associated with, churchyards or burial grounds of those periods.
As with high crosses, hogback stones tend to be heavily decorated, the
patterns and ornament used drawing on the same wider artistic traditions of
that time. In the north of England they enjoyed a distribution which is
peculiar to those areas which formed the Irish-Norse kingdom of York in the
early to mid tenth century. These represent a local development, modelled
probably on pre-Scandinavian, Northumbrian traditions of stone, house-shaped
shrines. Attracted by their links with the saints the Norse aristocracy used
them as grave covers. Their distribution allows an insight into the cemeteries
patronized by the tenth century aristocracy.
Although considered unlikely to be in their precise original location - apart
from the western cross shaft - the Giant's Grave group of cross shafts and
hogback stones is a remarkable group of richly carved tenth century monuments
unparalled in Cumbria. They survive reasonably well, display good examples of
tenth century art styles, and attest to the importance of both the church
environs and the wider local area as a centre of aristocratic habitation
during the tenth century.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser' in Proceedings 1946-7, (1947), 221-5
'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser' in Proceedings 1946-7, (1947), 221-5
Collingwood, W G, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser' in The Giant's Grave, Penrith, (1923), 115-29
Collingwood, W G, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser' in The Giant's Grave, Penrith, (1923), 115-29

Source: Historic England

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