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Anglo-Scandinavian cross, All Saints' churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Chebsey, Staffordshire

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Latitude: 52.8545 / 52°51'16"N

Longitude: -2.2096 / 2°12'34"W

OS Eastings: 385984.431308

OS Northings: 328574.937

OS Grid: SJ859285

Mapcode National: GBR 167.05P

Mapcode Global: WHBDL.1J31

Entry Name: Anglo-Scandinavian cross, All Saints' churchyard

Scheduled Date: 13 November 1963

Last Amended: 12 June 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012662

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21592

County: Staffordshire

Civil Parish: Chebsey

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Chebsey All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


The monument includes part of an Anglo-Scandinavian stone cross located in the
churchyard of All Saints' Church, approximately 17m south east of the south
porch. The monument includes the shaft, fashioned from Millstone Grit, and is
early medieval in date.
The shaft is circular in section at its base, tapering upwards to a collar or
band, 12cm deep. This is ornamented with plaited strands. Above the collar,
the shaft, still tapering, has a rectangular section and the four sides define
panels of decoration. The north and east sides of the upper part of the shaft
have similar carvings, a pair of intertwined oval rings above which is a
debased vine-scroll design. The west side has interlaced plaitwork, whilst the
ornament on the south side of the shaft is now badly eroded.
In modern times the ground surrounding the cross has been excavated to a depth
of 0.5m in an attempt to locate the base stone; however, the bottom of the
shaft was not located. The cross stands approximately 2.2m above present
ground level.
The stone blocks lining the pit in which the cross now sits 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 1 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 at Chebsey is a good example of an early medieval cross with
Scandinavian-influenced ornamentation on the shaft. 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 failed to
locate the bottom of the shaft, indicating that archaeological deposits
relating to the monument's construction and use are likely to survive intact
at some depth below the present ground surface. 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.

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 Round shafted pre-Norman Crosses in North Staffordshire, , Vol. 80, (1946), 32

Source: Historic England

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