Register of ancient monuments
Reference number 1013830
DESCRIPTION OF THE MONUMENT
The monument is the medieval wayside cross known as Reaps Cross. It includes the socket stone or socle of the cross, a section of the cross shaft which remains fitted into the socle, and the remainder of the shaft which lies partially embedded in the ground at the foot of the cross. The recumbent section includes an integral cross head.
The socle comprises an undressed natural gritstone boulder measuring c1m along its longest sides by 50cm high. In the top is a 40cm square socket hole containing the bottom half of the cross shaft which is square-sectioned with chamfered corners that close to form a narrow pedestal at the base. This section of the shaft is 115cm tall. There are several peg holes and iron pegs in its sides and the broken top retains the iron pin that formerly fixed on the recumbent top section. This pin is not an original feature but relates to a repair of the cross believed to have been carried out earlier this century. The recumbent top section lies on the west side of the cross and retains the hole for the pin in its broken end. It also has chamfered corners and shows the shaft to have tapered slightly towards the top where there is an integral cross head comprising two short side arms and a longer top arm where the chamfers close to form a 20cm square capital. This section of the cross shaft is c185cm long, making the original height of the cross approximately 3.5m. The cross is located at the junction of a number of ancient rights of way across Heptonstall Moor and, when intact would have been a visible and impressive landmark. In addition, it is Listed Grade II.
ASSESSMENT OF IMPORTANCE
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 pilgrimages.
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 earthfast monuments, except those which are extremely damaged and removed from their original locations, are considered worthy of protection.
Although broken, Reaps Cross is a well preserved and rare example of an in situ wayside cross which retains all its original components.