Cross: OS Grid Reference – SJ 879 452
From the centre of Stoke head west onto Glebe Street and just a couple of hundred yards or so south of the town hall is the minster church of St Peter Ad Vincula (St. Peter in Chains). Go into the large graveyard and there the ancient Saxon cross-shaft stands behind some modern iron railings. There are many other things of interest to see in the churchyard, including some old arches and monuments / gravestones in memory of some famous potters that made Stoke famous during the industrial revolution.
Archaeology & History
The Mercian cross-shaft stands 4 feet high on a 19th century square, socketed lump of stone. It is said to date from about AD 1000 when it was in use as a preaching cross, but could in fact be from earlier than that according to some local historians – perhaps it was originally a Christianized stone. The first Saxon settlement at Stoke (Stoiche) was said to date from c 800 AD. The cylindrical shaped shaft was discovered in 1876 by a gravedigger who spotted it being used as a door lintel inside the old church which was being demolished to make way for a newer church building. During its recovery the shaft broke in two so it was placed in storage, but in 1935 it was formally identified by Mr Charles Lynam who had it restored and re-erected in the churchyard.
Sadly the shaft is quite badly eroded with the carvings on one side being difficult to make out, but the front face has interlacing and scroll-work; there is some key-patterning on the sides and reverse side along with a series or section of small holes – these perhaps done in more recent times. The break across the middle of the shaft can still be seen today, but that does not detract from its great antiquity, the ancient monument being carefully restored. On the base there is an inscription that reads:- ‘This fragment of a pre-Norman cross identified by Chas Lynam F.S.A. was re-erected near to its original position in the 25th year of the reign of H.M. King George V by P.W.L.Adams F.S.A.’ The cross-shaft is a Grade II listed monument.
Pickford, Doug., Staffordshire – Its Magic & Mystery, Sigma Press Wilmslow, Cheshire 1994.
© Ray Spencer, 2011