Ancient Monuments

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Anglo-Scandinavian cross, 240m south west of Ilam Hall

A Scheduled Monument in Ilam, Staffordshire

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Latitude: 53.0523 / 53°3'8"N

Longitude: -1.8095 / 1°48'34"W

OS Eastings: 412868.961653

OS Northings: 350579.088178

OS Grid: SK128505

Mapcode National: GBR 486.RB6

Mapcode Global: WHCDY.5JMW

Entry Name: Anglo-Scandinavian cross, 240m south west of Ilam Hall

Scheduled Date: 30 September 1935

Last Amended: 9 June 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012655

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21605

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 is located within the grounds of Ilam Hall and includes part of
an Anglo-Scandinavian cross which is early medieval and later in date. The
monument includes a base and a socket-stone, which are early 19th century in
date, and a shaft.
The base is roughly square in section and has been constructed of masonry
blocks. The socket-stone is a single stone block which also has a square
section with chamfered corners. Set into the socket-stone is a stone shaft of
tapering, rectangular section. It now stands to a height of 1.6m although a
fracture at the top of the shaft indicates that it was originally taller. The
four sides of the shaft are decorated, and these carvings can be closely
paralleled with those visible on an early medieval cross in the churchyard in
Checkley, Staffordshire. The upper panel of the south face is decorated with
three human figures with bodies represented by plaitwork interlacement and
this design is repeated within the corresponding panel of the north face. The
decoration of the lower panel of the south face is now indecipherable but
that on the north face has a pattern of three concentric circles, interlaced
with four semicircles. The east and west faces are weathered, although the
upper panel of the east face is decorated with a pattern of Stafford knots. On
the west face of the shaft, the upper panel is also ornamented with three
human figures with plaitwork bodies, while the only identifiable ornament on
the lower panel is a triqueta.
The cross is traditionally known as the Battle Stone and tradition suggests
that it was originally erected to commemmorate the struggles between the
Saxons and the Danes.
The fence posts which surround the cross are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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 240m south west of Ilam Hall is a good example of an early medieval
cross with Scandinavian-influenced ornamentation on the shaft. The cross
provides a valuable insight into the regional and chronological variations of
the ornamentation present on these types of monument. While the shaft has
survived from the early medieval period, the subsequent restoration of the
base and socket-stone illustrate the continued function of the cross as a
public monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Jeavons, S A, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Anglo-Saxon Cross-shafts in Staffordshire, , Vol. 66, (1946), 115
Pape, T, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Rectangular-shafted pre-Norman crosses of North Staffordshire, , Vol. 81, (1947), 36

Source: Historic England

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