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Anglian high cross fragment in the churchyard of St Matthew's Church, Rastrick

A Scheduled Monument in Rastrick, Calderdale

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Latitude: 53.6906 / 53°41'26"N

Longitude: -1.792 / 1°47'31"W

OS Eastings: 413830.6408

OS Northings: 421596.316

OS Grid: SE138215

Mapcode National: GBR HTXR.TR

Mapcode Global: WHC9V.FHWJ

Entry Name: Anglian high cross fragment in the churchyard of St Matthew's Church, Rastrick

Scheduled Date: 14 June 1988

Last Amended: 16 May 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012874

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23376

County: Calderdale

Electoral Ward/Division: Rastrick

Built-Up Area: Brighouse

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Rastrick St Matthew

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


The monument includes the remains of the Anglian high cross in St Matthew's
churchyard and comprises the socle or socket stone of the cross. Originally a
stone shaft and cross head would have been set into the socle but these
components are now missing.
The socle consists of a roughly dressed gritstone block measuring c.1.06m high
and tapering asymmetrically from c.75cm square at the base to c.52cm square at
the top. In the top there is a rectangular socket hole measuring c.30cm by
25cm by 15cm deep. A single line of roll-moulding extends round the base of
the socle while all four corners are edged with what seems to be eroded cable-
mouldings. Roll-moulding also extends round the top of the socle, c.5cm below
the rim, and there appear originally to have been knots where these mouldings
intersect with those on the corners, but these knots are now very eroded. On
each face of the socle, further fine lines of roll-moulding form panels
framing carved ornamentation. On the south face, this ornamentation takes the
form of a so-called `Tree of Life' comprising scroll-like branches emerging
sideways from a central stem. This design is repeated in a different and not
so well-preserved form on the east face and also on the west face which, in
the past, has been mistakenly described as blank. On the north face the panel
is divided by a vertical rib flanked by differing forms of interlace. This
design may also represent a form of the `Tree of Life'.
Although the present Church of St Matthew is a modern foundation and not
directly associated with the cross, the latter is nevertheless considered to
be in its original location because it stands on the projected line of a Roman
road. This suggests that the cross may have marked an ecclesiastical or
territorial boundary, or it may alternatively have been a cenotaph marking a
grave within a larger cemetery. If so, the buried remains of this cemetery
will survive around the cross, but they are not included in the scheduling as
their existence has not been verified. In addition to being scheduled, the
cross is Grade II* Listed.

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 example in St Matthew's churchyard is important for being in its original
location and for the art-historical importance of its carvings which, although
not well-preserved, survive sufficiently well to illustrate the influence of
Scandinavian art-forms on this type of monument. In addition to this, the
cross is an important indicator of further surviving Anglo-Scandinavian
remains in this locality.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Michelmore, DJH, West Yorkshire: an Archaeological Survey to AD 1500, (1981), 205
In SMR, Cookson, N, (1986)
Shackleton Hill, Angela, (1994)
Williams, J.I, Township of Rastrick..., 1983, BA Dissertation, Univ. Birmingham

Source: Historic England

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