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Anglo-Scandinavian cross, 12m south of the south porch of the Church of the Holy Cross

A Scheduled Monument in Ilam, Staffordshire

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Latitude: 53.0532 / 53°3'11"N

Longitude: -1.8036 / 1°48'12"W

OS Eastings: 413261.497446

OS Northings: 350675.931845

OS Grid: SK132506

Mapcode National: GBR 487.LT7

Mapcode Global: WHCDY.8JD6

Entry Name: Anglo-Scandinavian cross, 12m south of the south porch of the Church of the Holy Cross

Scheduled Date: 19 December 1947

Last Amended: 30 June 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012654

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21604

County: Staffordshire

Civil Parish: Ilam

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Ilam

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


The monument includes part of an Anglo-Scandinavian cross located in the
churchyard of the Church of the Holy Cross, Ilam, approximately 12m south of
the south porch. The cross is early medieval in date with modern repairs. It
is Listed Grade I and includes the socket-stone, the shaft and part of the
The socket-stone is square in section although its dimensions are currently
unobtainable without disturbing the ground surface. Set into the socket-stone
is a stone shaft, of tapering rectangular section, which has been repaired.
Each face of the shaft is divided by double curved mouldings into four
ornamental panels; outlined by plain borders. The upper two panels on each
face are decorated with interlacing ornament of various degrees of complexity;
simplest in the narrow panels at the top of the north and south faces, and
more complex in the broader west and east faces. The third panels from the top
on the east and west sides of the shaft have similar decoration, and consist
of three concentric circles interlaced with semicircular bands. The
corresponding panels on the north and south faces are carved with interlaced
Stafford knots. The lower panel on the east face is decorated with two birds,
while that on the west face has three human figures with bodies formed by
interlaced plaitwork. The decoration within the lower panels of the north and
south faces are thought to contain interlacing plaitwork. The top of the shaft
widens to form part of the cross-head, enough of which remains visible to
indicate that the four arms were originally decorated with an interlacing
pattern and were connected to each other by a wheel or circle. The full height
of the cross is 2.2m.
Approximately 14m north east of the cross is a further early medieval cross
which is the subject of a separate scheduling.
The grave markers on the north and south sides of the cross are excluded from
the scheduling.

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 located approximately 12m south of the south porch of the Church of
the Holy Cross is one of only a small number of early medieval crosses in
Staffordshire that retain evidence for the form of the cross-head. It also
provides important evidence for regional variations in the decorative motifs
found on crosses, in particular, the concentric circular pattern on the shaft
is rarely found in England and is believed to be Scandinavian in origin.
Situated near the south porch of the church, it is believed to stand in or
near its original position. Limited activity immediately surrounding the cross
indicates that archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction
and use are likely to survive intact. The modern repairs to the cross-shaft
illustrate the continued use of the cross 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 in the same churchyard enhances the interest of
the monument.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Brown, Prof B, 'Arts in Early England' in Arts in Early England, , Vol. 6, (1945), 272
Jeavons, S A, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Anglo-Saxon Cross-shafts in Staffordshire, , Vol. LXVI, (1946), 114
Pape, T, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Rectangular-shafted pre-Norman crosses of North Staffordshire, , Vol. 81, (1947), 37

Source: Historic England

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