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Anglo-Scandinavian cross, 2m south of St Edward's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Leek, Staffordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.1067 / 53°6'24"N

Longitude: -2.0265 / 2°1'35"W

OS Eastings: 398319.284002

OS Northings: 356617.356001

OS Grid: SJ983566

Mapcode National: GBR 24P.BFC

Mapcode Global: WHBCH.V55M

Entry Name: Anglo-Scandinavian cross, 2m south of St Edward's Church

Scheduled Date: 2 December 1964

Last Amended: 13 July 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012657

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21607

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

Details

The monument includes part of an Anglo-Scandinavian cross situated within the
churchyard of St Edward's Church, 2m to the south of the church. The cross is
Listed Grade II and is early medieval and modern in date. The monument
includes a modern socket-stone and part of a shaft.
The shaft stands on a socket-stone which measures 1m square and is included in
the scheduling. Carved from a single block of Millstone Grit, the shaft is
rectangular in section and measures 0.45m north-south and 0.3m west-east at
its base. It stands to a height of 1.9m and has been repaired. The four sides
of the shaft are divided into panels of decoration containing simple
ornamental patterns, including interlaced plaitwork, a key pattern and
figure-of-eight knotwork. The central part of the western and northern sides
of the shaft have been cut away, but the decoration of the upper and lower
parts of these faces remains visible and provides evidence that the shaft was
originally taller.
Approximately 25m to the north east 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 and the gravestones
immediately surrounding the cross are excluded from the scheduling, although
the ground beneath the gravestones is included.

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 to the south of St Edward's Church is a good example of an early
medieval cross. Situated in the churchyard, it provides a valuable insight
into the variability of form and decoration of these types of monument. While
part of the cross-shaft survives from early medieval times, subsequent
restoration illustrates the continued function of the cross as a public
monument and amenity. The survival of a second cross within the same
churchyard enhances the interest of the 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. 66, (1946), 116

Source: Historic England

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