Ancient Monuments

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Wayside cross base on south side of the churchyard wall at Scawton

A Scheduled Monument in Old Byland and Scawton, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2449 / 54°14'41"N

Longitude: -1.1594 / 1°9'33"W

OS Eastings: 454875.205

OS Northings: 483569.876

OS Grid: SE548835

Mapcode National: GBR NMBC.S2

Mapcode Global: WHD8L.5K5N

Entry Name: Wayside cross base on south side of the churchyard wall at Scawton

Scheduled Date: 19 October 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012889

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25638

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Old Byland and Scawton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Upper Ryedale

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes a stone cross base known as Scawton Cross. It lies
beside the churchyard wall on the south side on a triangle of grass formed by
the junction of the minor road through the village to Rievaulx and a lane by
the church. It is on the east side of the road.

Scawton Cross is now a sandstone base for a cross of which no shaft or head
survives. This stands 0.41m high above the ground. It is 0.68m wide on the
south face and 0.6m wide on the west face. It tapers to 0.58m and 0.54m at
the top. There is a carved depression in the top squared to make a socket for
a shaft. The shaft is broken within the socket leaving it only 0.12m deep at
the middle. The socket measures 0.33m by 0.34m at the top.

The base is outside the churchyard and therefore represents an example of a
wayside cross on the old road from Helmsley to Hambleton through Rievaulx
which provides the focal point of the route. This road used to be called the
Sperragate. In this case the cross should be seen as part of a series of
wayside crosses of medieval date along the road, namely Griff Cross, Scawton
Cross and Cooper Cross. The church is a restored late Anglo-Saxon or
Anglo-Norman church with simple nave and chancel and predates the cross by at
least a century.

The wall of the churchyard and the bench on a concrete plinth beside the cross
are not included in the scheduling.

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

Wayside crosses are one of several types of Christian cross erected during the
medieval period, mostly from the 9th to 15th centuries AD. In addition to
serving the function of reiterating and reinforcing the Christian faith
amongst those who passed the cross and of reassuring the traveller, wayside
crosses often fulfilled a role as waymarkers, especially in difficult and
otherwise unmarked terrain. The crosses might be on regularly used routes
linking ordinary settlements or on routes having a more specifically religious
function, including those providing access to religious sites for parishioners
and funeral processions, or marking long-distance routes frequented on
Over 350 wayside crosses are known nationally, concentrated in south west
England throughout Cornwall and on Dartmoor where they form the commonest type
of stone cross. A small group also occurs on the North York Moors. Relatively
few examples have been recorded elsewhere and these are generally confined to
remote moorland locations.
Outside Cornwall almost all wayside crosses take the form of a `Latin' cross,
in which the cross-head itself is shaped within the projecting arms of an
unenclosed cross. In Cornwall wayside crosses vary considerably in form and
decoration. The commonest type includes a round, or `wheel', head on the faces
of which various forms of cross or related designs were carved in relief or
incised, the spaces between the cross arms possibly pierced. The design was
sometimes supplemented with a relief figure of Christ and the shaft might bear
decorative panels and motifs. Less common forms in Cornwall include the
`Latin' cross and, much rarer, the simple slab with a low relief cross on both
faces. Rare examples of wheel-head and slab-form crosses also occur within the
North York Moors group. Most wayside crosses have either a simple socketed
base or show no evidence for a separate base at all.
Wayside crosses contribute significantly to our understanding of medieval
religious customs and sculptural traditions and to our knowledge of medieval
routeways and settlement patterns. All wayside crosses which survive as earth-
fast monuments, except those which are extremely damaged and removed from
their original locations, are considered worthy of protection.

Scawton Cross is a wayside cross on the old road from Helmsley via Rievaulx to
the west. Although it now lacks both the shaft and head, its location and
survival as a cross base at the Church of St Mary, Scawton, make it important
to our understanding of medieval communications and the religious
observances for travellers. It is one of a series along the road of which
Griff Cross and Cooper Cross are further examples. This route is mentioned in
Rievaulx charters of the 12th century. Locally it is known as the Sperragate.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hayes, R H, Old Roads and Pannierways in North East Yorkshire, (1988), 53

Source: Historic England

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