BuiltWithNOF
Saxon Crosses

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The Saxon crosses are two sandstone obelisks which stand in the cobbled Market Square. They are believed to date from the 8th or 9th Century and were a monument to the introduction of Christianity into the area.

During the 7th Century, the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Sandbach was in the pagan kingdom of Mercia. Legend has it that King Penda of Mercia arranged the marriage of his son Paeda to Princess Alchfleda, the daughter of Oswy the King of Northumbria. As King Oswy was a Christian, Penda allowed four Christian priests, Cedda, Adda, Betti and Diuma, to accompany his son on his return to Mercia. As no union would be allowed by the King unless Paeda embraced the Christian faith he was converted and baptised in the brook below the church at the bottom of The Hill.There is doubt about when the crosses were actually erected. One view is that it was during the lifetime of Paeda, another is that it was much later.

The larger of the two obelisks depicts scenes from the Bible showing John the Baptist in the Wilderness, the Birth of Jesus, His trial and crucifixion, the Ascension, the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The smaller shaft shows events leading up to and including Paeda's conversion and eventual marriage to Alchfleda.

The crosses were broken up in the 17th Century by Puritan Iconoclasts and the stones were scattered over a large area. The stones were eventually recovered and the crosses re-erected on their original site in 1816 by the Cheshire Historian, Dr. George Ormerod. Parts of the crosses were recovered from as far afield as Tarporley and Oulton. The Square and surrounding streets were also cobbled at this time.

By 1986 the crosses were becoming badly worn by natural erosion and feet and a protective barrier was erected.

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The above photograph is from an old postcard.

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The above photographs show some of the carved detail.

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Remains of the ‘other’ cross located in St. Mary’s churchyard.

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