Ancient Monuments

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The Headless Cross on Tarporley Road 230m north west of Greenlands

A Scheduled Monument in Little Budworth, Cheshire West and Chester

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Latitude: 53.2056 / 53°12'20"N

Longitude: -2.6264 / 2°37'35"W

OS Eastings: 358255.571523

OS Northings: 367792.950308

OS Grid: SJ582677

Mapcode National: GBR 7N.24JR

Mapcode Global: WH99H.MPJD

Entry Name: The Headless Cross on Tarporley Road 230m north west of Greenlands

Scheduled Date: 30 August 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013476

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25697

County: Cheshire West and Chester

Civil Parish: Little Budworth

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Little Budworth St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Chester


The monument includes a red sandstone cross base set on a modern concrete
plinth in the line of the hedge on the west side of the Tarporley Road.
The cross appears on maps from the 19th century and was called the Headless
The cross base stands in its original position beside the medieval road to
Vale Royal Abbey which later became part of a turnpike road.
The stone block is 0.78m wide on the east face and 0.68m deep. It stands 0.35m
high. The socket measures 0.33m by 0.32m and is 0.15m deep. It is set on a
modern concrete base measuring 0.9m by 0.9m and stands 0.35m high. The base
has been broken away on its north west corner.
This was probably one of the seven crosses destroyed by Puritan iconoclasts in
the early 17th century, an act which led to a case in the Star Chamber.
There are the remains of four crosses on the road to the abbey. One is the
Longstone 700m to the east, another the cross base on Longstone Lane 400m to
the east and a cross base at Whitegates to the north east.
The fence boundary is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath it is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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.

Although only the base of this cross survives and this has been mounted on a
modern plinth, it remains in its original position next to a medieval road.
This road led to the nearby Vale Royal Abbey and has three other wayside
crosses along the route. Very few such crosses survive in Cheshire.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Heaton, C, Plan of Delamere Forest, (1819)
Ormerod, , History of Cheshire, (1882), 107
Cheshire County Council SMR, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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