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Anglian high cross in St Laurence's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Eyam, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.2841 / 53°17'2"N

Longitude: -1.6747 / 1°40'29"W

OS Eastings: 421782.469592

OS Northings: 376400.107661

OS Grid: SK217764

Mapcode National: GBR JZRG.7F

Mapcode Global: WHCCV.7QR5

Entry Name: Anglian high cross in St Laurence's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 13 April 1949

Last Amended: 21 April 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008616

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23343

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Eyam

Built-Up Area: Eyam

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Eyam St Lawrence

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument is located in the south east area of St Laurence's churchyard and
is a Grade I Listed Anglian high cross dating probably to the eighth century
AD. It includes a tapering rectangular shaft surmounted by a free-armed cross
head and is mortared into a pillow-shaped gritstone base or socle which is of
a much later date.
The angles of both the shaft and cross head are edged with flat-band mouldings
which create panels for the raised decoration covering all the faces of both
cross head and shaft. Both typical and rarer forms of adornment are
represented and, on the shaft, include plant scrolls and leaves on its east
face, interlace patterns on its south and north faces and more interlace on
the lower half of its west face. On the upper half of the west face are
figural carvings enclosed in two panels by roll moulding. The uppermost
contains a depiction of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus on her lap with
one hand raised in blessing. The lower contains a second figure holding what
appears to be a swaddled baby in its arms. This may also be a representation
of the Virgin and Child though the adult figure appears to be male. The cross
head, which is intact, has rounded spandrels and squared terminals. Both faces
have a decorated circular panel at the centre defined by roll moulding. Every
flat surface of the cross head is decorated with figural carvings except for
the side panels of the upper arm which contain interlace. All the figures are
angels carrying objects which appear to be trumpets though this is not
entirely clear. No accurate measurements are available but the cross head is
approximately 75cm high and broad while the shaft is currently c.1.75m tall.
However, the abrupt truncation of the decoration at the base of the shaft
indicates that part of the original visible height is hidden inside the later
socle while the loss of the Virgin's head from the carving on the west side
indicates that part of the upper portion of the shaft is missing. This is
supported by the fact that the cross head is out of proportion with the shaft
and it is likely that the shaft was originally at least 2m tall. The cross's
iconographic adornment and its location in a churchyard suggests that it
played a role in the church liturgy during the Anglo-Saxon period. Excluded
from the scheduling are the graves contained in the area of the scheduling and
the chain fence round the cross, although the ground underneath these features
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 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

The cross in St Laurence's churchyard, although not complete, is a very fine
example of an early high cross with an intact cross head and extremely
well-preserved plant, figural and interlace decoration.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Derby: Volume I, (1905), 287
Cox, Reverend J C, The Churches of Derbyshire, (1877), 195-6
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Derbyshire, (1953), 136
Rhodes, E, Peak Scenery (part 1)57
Tudor, T L, The High Peak to Sherwood71-2
Routh, T E, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in A Corpus Of Pre-Conquest Carved Stones In Derbyshire, , Vol. 58, (1937), 29-31

Source: Historic England

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