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Anglo-Scandinavian cross, 7m south of the south transept of the Church of the Holy Cross

A Scheduled Monument in Ilam, Staffordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.0532 / 53°3'11"N

Longitude: -1.8034 / 1°48'12"W

OS Eastings: 413274.70863

OS Northings: 350680.500974

OS Grid: SK132506

Mapcode National: GBR 487.LWF

Mapcode Global: WHCDY.8JH5

Entry Name: Anglo-Scandinavian cross, 7m south of the south transept of the Church of the Holy Cross

Scheduled Date: 19 December 1947

Last Amended: 30 June 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012653

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21603

County: Staffordshire

Civil Parish: Ilam

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Ilam

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

Details

The monument includes part of an Anglo-Scandinavian cross located in the
churchyard of the Church of the Holy Cross, approximately 7m south of the
church. The cross which is early medieval in date and Listed Grade I, takes
the form of a base, comprising a socket-stone, the shaft and part of the
cross-head.
The socket-stone was uncovered during an excavation around the base of the
shaft at the end of the 19th century. It is now buried beneath the ground
surface and is included in the scheduling. Set into the socket-stone is a
stone shaft of cylindrical section at its base, tapering upwards to a collar
or band, above which, the shaft continues to taper and has a rectangular
section. Immediately below the collar, the shaft is ornamented in relief with
a band of foliage which is thought to be a vine-scroll with leaves and flowers
or fruit. The upper part of the shaft is divided into four panels of
decoration containing simple ornamental patterns, of which three are
differing types of interlacing while the fourth is a Greek key pattern. The
top of the shaft narrows to form a distinct neck with sloping shoulders; above
this, it broadens to form a circular boss which represents the remains of the
cross-head.
Approximately 14m to the south west of the cross are the standing remains of a
second early medieval cross which is the subject of a separate scheduling.
The burial monument on the south east side of the cross is excluded from the
scheduling.

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.

The cross located approximately 7m south of the south transept of the Church
of the Holy Cross is a good example of a cross with Scandinavian-influenced
ornamentation on the shaft and is one of a small number of early medieval
crosses in Staffordshire that retain evidence for the form of the cross-head.
Situated near the south porch of the church, it is believed to stand in or
near its original position. Partial excavation of the area immediately
surrounding the cross has indicated that archaeological deposits relating to
the monument's construction and use are likely to survive intact below ground
level. The cross has not been restored and has continued in use as a public
monument and amenity from at least the 11th century to the present day. The
survival of a second cross in its original location within the same
churchyard enhances the interest of this monument.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Jeavons, S A, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Anglo-Saxon Cross-shafts in Staffordshire, , Vol. LXVI, (1946), 120
Pape, T, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Round shafted pre-Norman Crosses in North Staffordshire, , Vol. 80, (1946), 33

Source: Historic England

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