The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland

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The Walton Cross, Hartshead, West Yorkshire

    OS grid reference: SE 1761 2379. The Walton Cross stands beside a footpath at the western side of Hartshead village, in Kirklees District, west Yorkshire. But in fact it is now only part of what was originally quite a tall Anglo Saxon preaching cross, dating perhaps from the 9th or 10th century, but the carvings on this ancient cross-base are outstandingly beautiful. It is located 20m along a footpath running off the B6119 (Windy Bank Lane) and opposite Second Avenue. It is at the north-side of Walton Farm. Originally it stood in a field on private land, but a kindly, caring farmer who bought the land decided to build a footpath running directly to the cross. About ¼ of a mile to the south-east is St Peter’s church, an 11th century building but with more recent work, too. There is a holy well (Lady Well) near the church.

    The Walton cross-base stands at 1.5m (5 feet) in height and 1.1m (3 ft 6′) in width. It is a highly sculptured block of gritstone with large, double-edged panels on its sides that have beautiful designs and imagery. It was conjectured to date from between 900-1000 AD. Scholars now date it to the 11th century. According to Ella Pontefract in her masterpiece of work ‘The Charm Of Yorkshire Churches’: the west face has a cross (large rosette knot) within a circle that is supported by two winged figures, while the east face has a tree with two birds on each side, maybe a representation of ‘the Tree of Life’, a Viking image, and the north and south faces have interlacing knotwork – reminiscent perhaps of Celtic workmanship. Long ago this wayside preaching cross (waymarker) would have stood very tall, maybe 15 feet, and how beautiful it must have looked, but sadly the rest of the cross has long since disappeared – though to where it went we do not know. It is also interesting to know that originally the Walton Cross may have been painted in bright colours. The circle with rosette knot is the logo for ‘The West Yorkshire Archaeological Service‘.

    The authoress goes on to say that: W.G. Collingwood the English author and antiquary (1854-1932) suggested that the cross is the “Wagestan” (Wage Stone), which was mentioned in the 12th century foundation charter of Kirkless Priory, near Mirfield, west Yorkshire. The socket hole at the top of the cross-base is often filled with water that is, or was, used to cure warts, and a few coins are sometimes deposited in the water!


Bull, Malcolm, The West Yorkshire Archaeology Service (WYAS), The Calderdale Companion.

Click on this web-blog by Kai Roberts:

Pontefract, Ella, The Charm Of Yorkshire Churches, The Yorkshire Weekly Post, Leeds, 1937.