Ancient Monuments

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Esh Cross 150m north of Esh Hall

A Scheduled Monument in Esh, County Durham

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Latitude: 54.7897 / 54°47'22"N

Longitude: -1.6952 / 1°41'42"W

OS Eastings: 419694.616458

OS Northings: 543911.140748

OS Grid: NZ196439

Mapcode National: GBR JFL1.ST

Mapcode Global: WHC4G.XWX0

Entry Name: Esh Cross 150m north of Esh Hall

Scheduled Date: 21 October 1968

Last Amended: 2 December 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016487

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32041

County: County Durham

Civil Parish: Esh

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham

Church of England Parish: Esh and Hamsteels

Church of England Diocese: Durham


The monument includes Esh Cross, which is situated at the southern end of Esh
village green. The cross, which is listed Grade II, includes a cross head,
shaft, socket stone resting on a box of ashlar, and a base.
The shaft and cross head are one unit of stone, 1.2m in height. The arms of
the cross are 0.6m wide. On the ends of each arm of the cross are flower
motifs with six petals. On the east and west face of the cross head are oval
plaques. The east plaque is 0.3m wide and 0.25m high, and contains the date of
the cross (1687). This plaque is badly worn and only the `87' of the date is
decipherable. The west plaque is 0.25m wide and 0.3m high and contains the
letters `IHS'. The cross head has been broken off the shaft and repaired, 0.1m
below the arms of the cross, marked by a cement repair. The shaft has also
been broken 0.02m above the socket stone and cement repaired. The base of the
shaft measures 0.25m north-south by 0.2m east-west and is cemented into a 0.3m
by 0.3m socket in the socket stone. The socket stone is 1.15m north-south by
0.5m east-west by 0.35m in height. The socket stone rests on a box of ashlar
blocks of the same horizontal dimensions as the socket stone and 0.6m in
height. The box is surrounded by a flower border, edged with reused ashlar
blocks, and measuring 2.5m north-south by 1.6m east-west. All components are
composed of sandstone.
The ground around the cross is raised in relation to the surrounding green and
sandstone blocks are evident in the ground (1.5m south east of the cross)
indicating the preservation of subsurface deposits.
The monument is thought to be in its original position and is shown in its
present position on the 1854 Ordnance Survey 1:2500 map.

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.

Esh Cross is in fair condition. It is an important example of a 17th
century cross, a period when few crosses were being erected. It is in its
original position on a raised area of the village green and will retain
archaeological information relating to the period of its construction.

Source: Historic England

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