National Recording Project


Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

Saxon Cross Shaft


Type Cross

     The cross shaft is the oldest man-made object in Wolverhampton. The carvings on it are zoomorphic and consist of bird and animal forms of typical Saxon design. The cross is believed to have Christian origins, and would have been there when Lady Wulfruna built her church on the hill of Heantun. In 1949, excavation at the base of the cross revealed a circle of large, roughish stones which seemed to form steps. These must have served as the original base on which the cross stood: its original height would therefore have been greater than the 4.2m that can be seen today. With the cross portion, which has long since disappeared, the whole monument would probably have stood some 7.5m high. Today, the Saxon cross is slowly being eroded by rain and atmospheric pollution. This problem was recognised as far back as the 1870s, when a plaster cast was made of the decoration before it could be damaged further. This is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
     It has been suggested that the cross shaft was originally a column pillaged from the forum at Viroconium (Wroxeter), the old Roman town near Telford. The Saxons then carved the designs upon it. Certainly its dimensions are identical with the pillars found at Viroconium, but whether it actually comes from there is open to debate. Nationally, there are less than one hundred of these cross shafts, with some of the finest examples being found in Cumbria, Hampshire and Wiltshire.

Related works : There is a plaster cast of this work in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Contributor details

Contributor Role
unknown, None Sculptor

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Cross shaft Stone 4.2m high approx.

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
WMwvWVxx054 BM
General condition Poor
Surface condition
  • Surface spalling, crumbling
  • Corrosion, Deterioration
Structural condition
  • Broken, missing parts
  • None
Road Lichfield Street
Precise location outside St Peter's Church, a few metres to the south-east of the main entrance
A-Z ref 170 2B
OS ref None

Sorry, we have no precise geographical information for this item.

Date of design c. 850 AD
Year of unveiling c.850 AD
Unveiling details c.850 AD
Commissioned by None
Duty of care Wolverhampton City Council
Listing status Don't know
At risk? Immediate Risk

‹‹ Back to search results