Ancient Monuments

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Cross shaft in St Mary's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Masham, North Yorkshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.2211 / 54°13'15"N

Longitude: -1.654 / 1°39'14"W

OS Eastings: 422659.492895

OS Northings: 480651.109072

OS Grid: SE226806

Mapcode National: GBR JMWM.QM

Mapcode Global: WHC7D.K5MC

Entry Name: Cross shaft in St Mary's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 15 October 1937

Last Amended: 23 August 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013301

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26943

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Masham

Built-Up Area: Masham

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Details

The monument includes the cross shaft in Masham churchyard. It is constructed
of a sandstone pillar standing 2.06m high and 0.6m in diameter, on a two
tiered, chamfered, octagonal base. The surface is sculptured in low relief,
organised into four panels divided by raised bands. The three lower panels
contain carved figures within seven round headed niches, whilst the top panel,
also carved, is narrower than the rest and its upper edge is concealed by a
protective cover. The details of the upper carving are obscured by weathering.
The shaft is ninth century in date, developing from early Christian
traditions of the eastern Mediterranean.
The monument is Listed Grade II.

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.

Although the upper section of the shaft is missing from this cross, it
survives well, and is a fine example of Anglian sculpture demonstrating early
Christian eastern Mediterranean influences.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire: The North Riding, (1966), 241

Source: Historic England

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