Ancient Monuments

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High cross in St Peter's churchyard, Heysham

A Scheduled Monument in Heysham Central, Lancashire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.0471 / 54°2'49"N

Longitude: -2.9017 / 2°54'6"W

OS Eastings: 341057.560235

OS Northings: 461616.712862

OS Grid: SD410616

Mapcode National: GBR 8P5M.LZ

Mapcode Global: WH845.DJHR

Entry Name: High cross in St Peter's churchyard, Heysham

Scheduled Date: 16 May 1949

Last Amended: 10 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009491

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23743

County: Lancashire

Electoral Ward/Division: Heysham Central

Built-Up Area: Heysham

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Heysham St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Blackburn

Details

The monument includes the lower part of the decorated shaft of a ninth century
Anglian high cross located in the churchyard to the south of St Peter's
Church, Heysham. It is constructed of local red sandstone and is set in a
modern sandstone base. The shaft is rectangular in cross section and tapers
towards the top. It measures 0.85m high. The decoration on the south face of
the shaft depicts a human figure, possibly seated, beneath an arch or halo.
Beneath this figure there is a panel with interlaced decoration. On the north
side of the shaft the decoration depicts a gabled building with a doorway and
seven windows or recesses. In the uppermost window there is a human figure and
in the doorway there is a human figure apparently swathed in burial clothing.
This artwork has been interpreted as the Raising of Lazarus. The sides of the
cross shaft are decorated with cabled edging and deeply cut tree scroll.

MAP EXTRACT
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
important.

Although only a portion of the cross shaft remains, this portion displays a
good example of ninth century AD art styles and attests to the significance of
both the church and its environs as a centre of ecclesiastical importance
during this period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
Lancs SMR, St Peter's, Heysham, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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