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Excavating the Bakewell High Cross

 
 
 

One of the main questions that needed to be answered was to assess whether the high cross (the larger of the two cross shafts) was in its original position, as knowing whether the cross is in-situ, or has been brought into its current position at a later date, is key to identifying a suitable method for future conservation.

To find out this vital information, a small excavation was undertaken around the base of the cross to examine the deposits around and beneath the sculpture, and try to obtain some dateable material to help answer the question. What was uncovered was a fascinating sequence of deposits including a substantial foundation trench with dressed stone that must have been part of a now-lost building, possibly associated with the earliest church on the site. Beneath this wall foundation there was a grave containing the remains of an adult, probably female, and a very young baby. It was clear from the sequence of deposits that the wall dated to a later period than the burial, and in turn the cross was later still than the wall foundation.

A radiocarbon date on the adult burial showed that they died in the period after the Norman Conquest, and most likely in the late 11th or early 12th century. Although this meant that the burial, and therefore the wall foundation were not Anglo-Saxon as was originally suggested, it also meant that the cross is not in its original position and was moved here from somewhere else. This excavation was filmed for BBC's Countryfile programme, and will be aired on Sunday 6th May 2012.

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