Ancient Monuments

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Wayside cross known as Abel Cross

A Scheduled Monument in Wadsworth, Calderdale

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Latitude: 53.7727 / 53°46'21"N

Longitude: -2.0224 / 2°1'20"W

OS Eastings: 398622.919476

OS Northings: 430707.022922

OS Grid: SD986307

Mapcode National: GBR GS9T.YB

Mapcode Global: WHB86.XF4M

Entry Name: Wayside cross known as Abel Cross

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1981

Last Amended: 1 November 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009289

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23360

County: Calderdale

Civil Parish: Wadsworth

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Heptonstall St Thomas a Becket and St Thomas the Apostle

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


The monument is a sandstone wayside cross located near the edge of Shackleton
Moor. It comprises the separated halves of a massive tapering socle or cross
base, each housing a rectangular section shaft. The bevelled tops of the
shafts indicate that there have never been cross-heads. This suggests that the
cross is probably of post-medieval date. Currently, the halves of the socle
are set c.2m apart, slightly NW and SE of each other, with the vertical cut
faces of each orientated SE. This indicates that one half must have been
turned round and moved apart. As the SE example is less deeply embedded in the
ground than the NW example, it is likely to have been the former.
The SE half of the socle has a maximum visible height of 87cm compared to the
69cm of the NW half. Its outer width along the top edge is 57cm while the same
dimension on the NW example is 60cm. The inner width of both halves is 64cm
which indicates that the socle was not of uniformly rectangular section but
bowed out in the middle. The combined length of the socle would have been
152cm with the SE half measuring 69cm and the NW half 83cm. Both shafts are
mortared into rectangular socket holes set 21cm from the outer edge of the
socle and apparently also c.21cm apart. The SE shaft is 99cm tall and has a
base measurement of 34cm by 21cm while the NW shaft measures 114cm by 54cm by
28cm. The latter tapers towards the top to 30cm by 24cm and the former to 22cm
by 16cm. The socle, though finely dressed and covered with toolmarks, is
undecorated except for a surveyor's bench mark inscribed near the southern
corner of the SE half. Both leading faces of each shaft are inscribed with a
Latin cross of two incised lines whose simplicity also suggests a
post-medieval date. The cross is orientated SW-NE so that the incised crosses
can be seen from either direction on the adjacent track. This suggests that
the cross marked an ancient route across the moor, though it may also have
served as a boundary marker.

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

Wayside crosses are one of several types of Christian cross erected during the
medieval period, mostly from the 9th to 15th centuries AD. In addition to
serving the function of reiterating and reinforcing the Christian faith
amongst those who passed the cross and of reassuring the traveller, wayside
crosses often fulfilled a role as waymarkers, especially in difficult and
otherwise unmarked terrain. The crosses might be on regularly used routes
linking ordinary settlements or on routes having a more specifically religious
function, including those providing access to religious sites for parishioners
and funeral processions, or marking long-distance routes frequented on
Over 350 wayside crosses are known nationally, concentrated in south west
England throughout Cornwall and on Dartmoor where they form the commonest type
of stone cross. A small group also occurs on the North York Moors. Relatively
few examples have been recorded elsewhere and these are generally confined to
remote moorland locations.
Outside Cornwall almost all wayside crosses take the form of a `Latin' cross,
in which the cross-head itself is shaped within the projecting arms of an
unenclosed cross. In Cornwall wayside crosses vary considerably in form and
decoration. The commonest type includes a round, or `wheel', head on the faces
of which various forms of cross or related designs were carved in relief or
incised, the spaces between the cross arms possibly pierced. The design was
sometimes supplemented with a relief figure of Christ and the shaft might bear
decorative panels and motifs. Less common forms in Cornwall include the
`Latin' cross and, much rarer, the simple slab with a low relief cross on both
faces. Rare examples of wheel-head and slab-form crosses also occur within the
North York Moors group. Most wayside crosses have either a simple socketed
base or show no evidence for a separate base at all.
Wayside crosses contribute significantly to our understanding of medieval
religious customs and sculptural traditions and to our knowledge of medieval
routeways and settlement patterns. All wayside crosses which survive as earth-
fast monuments, except those which are extremely damaged and removed from
their original locations, are considered worthy of protection.

Although no longer in one piece, Abel Cross is a good and well preserved
example of a post-medieval wayside cross of the unusual type comprising a
single base with two cross shafts.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Collingwood, W G, 'Halifax Antiquarian Society Paper' in Halifax Antiquarian Society Paper, (1927), 141
for MPP, Shackleton Hill, Angela, Abel Cross, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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