Ancient Monuments

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Unfinished high cross shaft on Long Bar 580m north east of Todcrag Loch

A Scheduled Monument in Bewcastle, Cumbria

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Latitude: 55.1186 / 55°7'6"N

Longitude: -2.6401 / 2°38'24"W

OS Eastings: 359269.406224

OS Northings: 580652.355419

OS Grid: NY592806

Mapcode National: GBR B907.6Y

Mapcode Global: WH906.FL1W

Entry Name: Unfinished high cross shaft on Long Bar 580m north east of Todcrag Loch

Scheduled Date: 22 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016397

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27798

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Bewcastle

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Bewcastle St Cuthbert

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes a recumbent unfinished high cross shaft located on the
summit of Long Bar 580m north east of Todcrag Loch. The shaft is a tapering
block of grey sandstone cut from the outcrop on three sides but still attached
at the base. It is split at the broader section of the stone and measures
5.03m long by 0.93m wide tapering to 0.25m, and measures 0.95m in depth
tapering to 0.37m. The taper on the cross shaft and its close similarity in
dimensions to the late seventh/early eighth century high cross shaft in
Bewcastle churchyard approximately 6.6km to the SSW, have led to the
conclusion that this is an unfinished sister monument which split when it was
being cut free from its bed, and that the surviving Bewcastle Cross is its
successor which was safely cut and transported down to the churchyard.

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

The stone used for high crosses in Cumbria was usually derived from a local
quarry, and the unfinished cross shaft on Long Bar provides unique evidence
for this system of production.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bailey, R N, Cramp, R, Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, (1988), 162

Source: Historic England

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