The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland

1 Comment

St Matthew’s Churchyard Cross, Rastrick, West Yorkshire

Rastrick churchyard cross of (Wikipedia).

The Rastrick church-yard cross, drawing by Joseph Horsfall Turner, 1893 (Wikipedia)

    OS grid reference: SE 1383 2160. The cross-base stands near the entrance to St Matthew’s Church in the village of Rastrick, near Brighouse, West Yorkshire. It can be reached via the A643 Crowtrees Lane and Church Street at the south-western edge of the village; the church is an imposing building with a nice rotunda-like roof. The cross-base is located just inside the walled-churchyard enclosure, near the main entrance, and so can’t really be missed.

    This three and a half foot-high (1.06metre) cross-base is said to be Anglo-Saxon and probably dates from the 10th-11th century AD. It is all that now remains of a once proud Saxon high cross the shaft with its decorated cross-head would have stood inside the large, round socketed hole which measures 30cm by 25cm by about 15cm in depth. The rest of the cross has long since disapeared. The base-stone is of dressed gritstone which tapers away about three-quarters of the way up (75cm or 29′); the bottom of the base being square (52cms or 20′).
    There is a single line of roll-moulding running around the socket base and all four corners, one being edged with cable moulding. Some faint roll-moulding also runs around the top edge, just 5cm beneath the rim which, may also have faint traces of knotworking. Each of the faces of the base show more faint lines of roll-moulding from panels that have carved decoration. The south face has what is probably ‘The Tree of Life’ which comprises of scroll-like branches (interlacing) coming out in a sideways direction from the central stem. This type of decoration is repeated (but much eroded) on the west face, which was originally considered to be empty of any carvings. On the north face the panel is divided by a straight-rib flanked by interlacing – this too is probably a representation of ‘The Tree of Life’.
    It seems that the cross-base stands in it’s original position on or near to a Roman road that traversed the village – the cross would have no doubt marked what was originally an ecclesiastical boundary, or perhaps it was a graveyard marker for a Saxon cemetary. The cross-base is now a scheduled ancient monument listed as No 23376.  It is also grade II listed.
Register of Ancient Monuments Calderdale Council / environment / conservation and ancient monuments.
The Northern Antiquarian – Ancient Crosses.