Ancient Monuments

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Standing cross on Prestbury Road, 150m south east of Lane End crossroads

A Scheduled Monument in Prestbury, Cheshire East

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Latitude: 53.2729 / 53°16'22"N

Longitude: -2.1555 / 2°9'19"W

OS Eastings: 389725.495317

OS Northings: 375110.088586

OS Grid: SJ897751

Mapcode National: GBR FZDL.4G

Mapcode Global: WHBBG.VZRT

Entry Name: Standing cross on Prestbury Road, 150m south east of Lane End crossroads

Scheduled Date: 22 April 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014113

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25712

County: Cheshire East

Civil Parish: Prestbury

Built-Up Area: Macclesfield

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Prestbury St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Chester


The monument includes a standing cross on Prestbury Road on the boundary
of the borough of Macclesfield and the parish of Prestbury. The cross stands
close to its original position and was once incorporated into a stone wall on
the north side of the road. It is on the line of a row of stone footings as
this wall has since been replaced by a thorn hedge.
The cross is a Mercian round shafted cross of the 10th or 11th centuries and
is similar in style to the crosses found to the north of Macclesfield and now
situated in West Park in the town.
The cross stands 1.25m above the ground. It is cylindrical in shape with a
diameter of 0.43m at ground level tapering slightly to a single roll moulded
collar at 0.7m and the shaft is then cut into four facets to the broken top.
There are faint traces of carved decoration on the north and west faces.
The cross appears to have been buried so that at least 0.8m exists below the
ground, and it may have a socket below this. This would accord with three
examples now standing in West Park in Macclesfield which were also boundary
crosses. In 1880 it was noted as standing 6ft high. Since it dates from the
late Anglo-Saxon period it may have marked the boundary of the church or
monastic estate centred on Prestbury.
The surface of the footpath to the south is excluded from the scheduling
although the ground beneath it is included.
The cross is Listed Grade II.

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

A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone,
mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD).
Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as
stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm
Sunday. Elsewhere, standing crosses were used within settlements as places for
preaching, public proclamation and penance, as well as defining rights of
sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between
parishes, property, or settlements. A few crosses were erected to commemorate
battles. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and
protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Crosses in market
places may have helped to validate transactions. After the Reformation, some
crosses continued in use as foci for municipal or borough ceremonies, for
example as places for official proclamations and announcements; some were the
scenes of games or recreational activity.
Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have
numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation
has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and
religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by
iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval
standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The
oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft
often set directly in the ground without a base. The most common form is the
stepped cross, in which the shaft is set in a socket stone and raised upon a
flight of steps; this type of cross remained current from the 11th to 12th
centuries until after the Reformation. Where the cross-head survives it may
take a variety of forms, from a lantern-like structure to a crucifix; the more
elaborate examples date from the 15th century. Much less common than stepped
crosses are spire-shaped crosses, often composed of three or four receding
stages with elaborate architectural decoration and/or sculptured figures; the
most famous of these include the Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I at the
stopping places of the funeral cortege of his wife, who died in 1290. Also
uncommon are the preaching crosses which were built in public places from the
13th century, typically in the cemeteries of religious communities and
cathedrals, market places and wide thoroughfares; they include a stepped base,
buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either a shaft and
head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly to our
understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our
knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns. All crosses which
survive as standing monuments, especially those which stand in or near their
original location, are considered worthy of protection.

The cross on Prestbury Road survives well and in close proximity to its
original position and on the boundary of the old borough of Macclesfield and
the parish of Prestbury. It is one of a rare local group of surviving Anglo-
Saxon crosses in the east of Cheshire and north of Staffordshire. It is of a
type known as Mercian round shaft crosses and dates from the tenth or 11th

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Earwacker, JP, East Cheshire, (1880), 345
Higham, N J, The Origins of Cheshire, (1993), 172
Green, C, 'Trans Lancs and Chesh Arch Soc' in Trans Lancs and Chesh Arch Soc, (1941), 119
Cheshire County Council SMR, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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