National Recording Project

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

Battle of Neville's Cross

Summary

Type Cross

     The remnants of a 14th century cross. Listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, the head of the cross and most of the shaft are missing, reputedly vandalised in 1589. The shaft, about a metre in height, is set in an octagonal stone socket and base. Under this a base of sandstone blocks and cement, probably added in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, raises the structure above eye level. The whole work stands on a mound and is surrounded by a wall and sharp edged railings. A detailed description of the cross, written in the 1593 Rites of Durham, has enabled a twentieth century historian to reconstruct the original work in the form of a drawing. From this it seems that the cross surmounted eight steps and was perhaps more than 5 metres high. At the corners of its socket were carvings of the heads of the four evangelists (the eroded remains of two are still visible). The shaft supported a boss with representations of the Neville heraldic cross and bulls head. Its apex featured a carving of the crucified Christ with Our Lady and St. John on either side.(1)
     A cross is said to have existed on the site prior to the Battle of Neville's Cross (DUBB02 qv). After the battle Ralph, 4th lord of Neville, one of the commanders of the Northumberland division of men, erected a new cross to commemorate the victory of the English army over the Scots(4) and since then this district of Durham has come to be known as Neville's Cross. It was once customary to walk around the monument nine times and put ones head to the ground so as to listen to the battle cries but the cross now backs onto a neighbouring garden and this is no longer possible.
     Redhills in Durham reputedly owes its name to the excess of blood spilt in one of the most ferocious battles fought in the region.(2) A conflict between the English and the Scots the Battle of Neville's Cross took place on the 17th October, 1346. It lasted some three hours and resulted in the deaths of thousands of soldiers.(3) In response to heavy losses at the Battle of Crecy, the French King Philip IV appealed to his allies, the Scots, to invade England as a diversion to encourage King Edward III to return home. The Scots agreed and under the command of King David II, an army nearing 12,000, according to one source, advanced into England. Having plundered Hexham Abbey en route they subsequently set up camp in Beaurepaire (Bearpark) on 17 October 1346. The following day three divisions of the English army, possibly numbering only 5,000 soldiers, moved forward to attack the Scots. In the course of the ensuing battle the Scots suffered devastating losses; their King was captured, most of their soldiers fell and the remaining men retreated. The victorious English army is said to have marched through Durham to the sound of trumpets. There is no record of how many of its ranks were killed.

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Not known, None Stonemason

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Wall and railings Stone and cast iron railings 230cm high x 600cm square
Lower base Sandstone and cement 100cm high x 310cm square
Two-tiered base and socket Stone 90cm high x 100cm square
Shaft of cross Stone 100cm high approx x 35cm long x 25cm deep

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
DUDU01 NE
General condition Fair
Surface condition
  • Corrosion, Deterioration
  • Surface spalling, crumbling
  • Other
Structural condition
  • Broken, missing parts
  • Broken, missing parts
Vandalism
Road Crossgate (A690)
Precise location Near junction with Great North Road
A-Z ref 138 3A
OS ref None

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

Date of design None
Year of unveiling c.1346
Unveiling details Installed c.1346
Commissioned by Ralph Neville
Duty of care Durham County Council
Listing status Not listed
At risk? No known risk

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