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Griff Cross, wayside cross 800m NNE of Griff Farm on the road from Helmsley to Rievaulx

A Scheduled Monument in Rievaulx, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.254 / 54°15'14"N

Longitude: -1.0943 / 1°5'39"W

OS Eastings: 459105.085106

OS Northings: 484633.265635

OS Grid: SE591846

Mapcode National: GBR NMS7.WT

Mapcode Global: WHF9R.5B5P

Entry Name: Griff Cross, wayside cross 800m NNE of Griff Farm on the road from Helmsley to Rievaulx

Scheduled Date: 3 August 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012890

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25639

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Rievaulx

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Helmsley All Saints

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument comprises a cross base known as Griff Cross wayside cross on the
junction of the B1257 out of Helmsley and the road down to Rievaulx Bridge.
The shaft and head are missing. It stands on a plinth of cobbles about 7m from
the edge of the road.

The cross base is a block of fine grained sandstone squared and measuring
0.9m in each dimension at the bottom. The block has been sculpted to form
triangular shapes on each face dividing it into an octagonal shape at the top.
The block is 0.68m in height. It has been set into a circular plinth of
cobbles 2.36m in diameter. The socket for a cross in the top is octagonal and
0.14m deep. The quality of the carving is still remarkable and relatively
unworn. This represents the best that a late medieval mason could do.

The cross base is a fine piece of carving and is not, as was commonly thought,
a portion of a pillar from Rievaulx Abbey which is only a mile away. It was
sculpted for the missing octagonal shaft which was probably headed by a carved
lantern. This type of cross is late in date and may have been erected as a
prestigious religious introduction to the lands of the abbey. It also marked
the way down to the Rievaulx Bridge from the road from Helmsley to Ryedale and
Bilsdale. This route to the bridge is known as the Sperragate in a Rievaulx
charter of AD 1160.

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

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.

The wayside cross known as Griff Cross survives well in spite of the loss of
the shaft and head. Enough survives to indicate the type of cross and that the
date of its construction is the late medieval period. It is in its original
position and marks a point on the old road from Helmsley to Rievaulx Bridge
known as Sperragate from 12th century Rievaulx charters.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hayes, R H, Old Roads and Pannierways in North East Yorkshire, (1988), 54

Source: Historic England

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