Ancient Monuments

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Standing cross at the Harkirke 8m north west of the chapel

A Scheduled Monument in Manor, Sefton

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Latitude: 53.5018 / 53°30'6"N

Longitude: -3.0192 / 3°1'9"W

OS Eastings: 332488.952711

OS Northings: 401045.813036

OS Grid: SD324010

Mapcode National: GBR 7WCY.4F

Mapcode Global: WH86T.L7GT

Entry Name: Standing cross at the Harkirke 8m north west of the chapel

Scheduled Date: 22 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015598

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27603

County: Sefton

Electoral Ward/Division: Manor

Built-Up Area: Crosby

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Merseyside

Church of England Parish: Great Crosby All Saints and St Frideswyde, Thornton

Church of England Diocese: Liverpool


The monument includes a medieval cross base which stands 8m from the north
west corner of the modern chapel at the site of the Harkirke. The chapel site
is believed to have been the site of an older and possibly late Anglo-Saxon
church and burial ground. The cross base has had a modern shaft erected in the
socket of the single dressed sandstone block.
The base block measures 0.9m by 0.8m and 0.2m high above ground. The socket
hole is 0.3m square. There are five crosses incised in the top of this stone
and all seem to have been cut during the medieval period although they do not
form part of the original design.
The cross is also within a burial ground formed in 1611 to take the remains of
those Roman Catholics who died in the parish of Sefton and were denied burial
in the parish church. The present chapel has some early gravestones inserted
into the north wall which were found in the vicinity of the building. During
the digging of the bank enclosing the burial ground in 1611 a substantial
hoard of Viking and Kufic coins was found on the site and dated to AD 915.
Silver from these coins has been shown to come from that period.
The ground to the west of the chapel was excavated in 1950-51 and no positive
identification of an earlier chapel can be confirmed. However the presence of
carved and dressed stones on the site suggests that an earlier building is not
far away. The cross must have been erected in the churchyard of this building
although a date for these remains is not yet clear. The earlier chapel site is
not included in the scheduling as its position, extent and date are not fully

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

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 base of the standing cross at the site of the Harkirke is part of the
evidence for a medieval chapel on or near the site of the present chapel. The
cross base survives well in spite of the loss of the original shaft and head.
Small incised crosses on the top surface of the block indicate later Christian
devotions at the site of the cross and may be from the rededication of the
burial ground in AD 1611.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Thompson, J D A, Inventory of British Coin Hoards AD 600-1500, (1956), 184
Tyrer, F, The Harkirk, (1953), 145
Tyrer, F, The Harkirk, (1953), 154
McKennel, E H, Letter To F Tyrer From, (1974)
SMR, The Harkirk, (1982)
Source Date: 1951
record card

Source: Historic England

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