Ancient Monuments

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Anglo-Scandinavian cross, 11m east of St Edward's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Leek, Staffordshire

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Latitude: 53.1068 / 53°6'24"N

Longitude: -2.026 / 2°1'33"W

OS Eastings: 398352.4485

OS Northings: 356626.895

OS Grid: SJ983566

Mapcode National: GBR 24P.BKQ

Mapcode Global: WHBCH.V5DK

Entry Name: Anglo-Scandinavian cross, 11m east of St Edward's Church

Scheduled Date: 2 December 1964

Last Amended: 13 July 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012656

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21606

County: Staffordshire

Civil Parish: Leek

Built-Up Area: Leek

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Leek St Edward the Confessor

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


The monument is located 11m east of St Edward's Church and includes part of
an Anglo-Scandinavian cross which is Listed Grade II. It includes a
socket-stone, of modern date, and a shaft and part of the cross-head which
date from the early medieval period.
The socket-stone is roughly square in section and measures 1.1m north-south
and 1.4m east-west. Set into the socket-stone is a stone shaft of cylindrical
section at its base, tapering upwards to a 22cm wide collar or band, above
which the shaft continues to taper and is of rectangular section. Immediately
below the collar, the shaft is ornamented with pendants of scroll-work, whilst
the collar itself is decorated with a band of interlace. The upper part of the
shaft is divided into four panels which are decorated with scrolls, interlace
and fretwork. The top of the shaft narrows to form a distinct neck with
sloping shoulders; above this, it broadens to form a boss which represents the
remains of the cross-head. The full height of the cross is approximately 2.7m.
Approximately 25m south west of the cross are the standing remains of a second
early medieval cross which is the subject of a separate scheduling.
The paving and gravestones around 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.
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 11m east of St Edward's Church is one of the
finest examples of an early medieval cylindrical-type cross in Staffordshire.
It provides important evidence for both the Scandinavian and Anglian forms of
ornamentation and is one of a small number of early medieval crosses in the
county that retain evidence for the form of the cross-head. The early medieval
cross-shaft has not been restored and its erection within the churchyard has
ensured the continued use of the cross as a public monument and amenity. The
survival of a second cross within the same churchyard enhances the interest of
this monument.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pape, T, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Round shafted pre-Norman Crosses in North Staffordshire, , Vol. 80, (1946), 35

Source: Historic England

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