Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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The Christening Stone, 160m east of Doe Park

A Scheduled Monument in Cotherstone, County Durham

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Latitude: 54.5777 / 54°34'39"N

Longitude: -1.99 / 1°59'23"W

OS Eastings: 400744.174178

OS Northings: 520271.578

OS Grid: NZ007202

Mapcode National: GBR GHJH.ZT

Mapcode Global: WHB4C.D6MJ

Entry Name: The Christening Stone, 160m east of Doe Park

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016878

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32064

County: County Durham

Civil Parish: Cotherstone

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham


The monument includes the medieval wayside cross known as the Christening
Stone, which is situated 160m east of Doe Park. It includes the socket stone
of a cross which is 0.75m by 0.9m and 0.4m high. The upper edge is chamfered
and a benchmark is present on the north face. The centrally located socket is
0.3m by 0.2m and 0.14m deep. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is in its
original position at the side of a hollow way which marks the medieval route
between Cotherstone and Romaldkirk and stands on undisturbed ground.
The name of the cross comes from the past tradition of the symbolic
christening of a calf as part of the May Day celebrations. The monument is one
of two surviving wayside crosses on the route between Cotherstone and
Romaldkirk and the only one in its original position.

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

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.

The Christening Stone, 160m east of Doe Park, is the only example on the route
between Cotherstone and Romaldkirk to survive in its original position and
display a clear association with the original medieval routeway. The monument
stands in an area of undisturbed ground and information on its original
setting and association with the adjacent hollow way will be preserved beneath
the ground surface.

Source: Historic England

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