Sandbach Saxon Crosses
Sandbach Armorial Bearings

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December 2013
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Saxon Crosses

Sandbach is widely known for its famous Saxon Crosses which are recognised as one of the finest Saxon monuments in Britain.  English Heritage care for the two sandstone structures, which stand in the picturesque cobbled Square.  They are an icon for most Sandbach organisations, including the Town Council.

They contain the most intricate carving and were produced at a time from which little or no documentary evidence has survived.  They have been the source of much fascination and the subject of very many books.  Theories abound to explain how and why they were created with some being more credible than others.  In 2002 a new book was written by Dr Jane Hawkes and supported by English Heritage that has an authority lacking in many of its predecessors.

She has studied the iconography of the carvings in great detail and has concluded that the larger cross was carved in the first half of the ninth century and that the smaller cross was completed slightly later i.e. the middle of the ninth century.  The decoration on both crosses suggests the presence in the Sandbach region of an ecclesiastical centre that expressed its authority through the production of large scale stone monuments proclaiming the Christian message.  They would have been brightly painted and decorated with jewels and metal inserts.

The first documentary reference is by William Smith, a Herald, in 1585 when he describes them as being present in the market place.  It is assumed that the crosses were broken up by Puritan Iconoclasts in the seventeenth century but certainly fragments were scattered over a wide area.  The larger pieces were found as far away as Oulton and Tarporley; smaller pieces were found on various sites in Sandbach.  They were eventually re-erected on their original site in 1816 under the direction of Dr. George Ormerod, the Cheshire historian.