|The Lypiatt Cross|
|Written by Huw Jones|
The Lypiatt Cross is a carved stone shaft on the south side of the Bisley-Stroud road, 600 metres west of Stancombe. Bryant describes the cross as a shaft 1.76m high with four faces cut from a single block of local oolitic limestone. It was carved with Christian motifs of the Anglo-Saxon period and perhaps dates to the middle of the 8th century. In 1929, it was reunited with a square plinth stone and re-erected within railings on which there is a descriptive plaque.
The plaque refers to the Painswick antiquarian W. St.C. Baddeley’s opinion that this shaft originally stood at Stancombe. It’s original location and purpose are, however, unclear. Some suggest that Bisley had an important minster church in Anglo-Saxon times and that this lavishly sculpted shaft was part of its decoration. It may also have been erected as preaching cross at a time when church buildings were few and far between.
The earliest mention of a cross is in a document of about 1230 confirming the grant of lands in Lypiatt to Batholomew Labanc as tenant of the Earl of Hereford, then lord of the manor of Bisley. Here it is described as crucem marie – the Cross of Mary. In 1654, a ‘Lord’s Stone’ is mentioned in a document recording a boundary dispute between John Stephens of the Over Lypiatt estate and the feoffees of Rodborough who owned Anstead’s Farm. It appears in a later document of 1724 referring to field boundaries in the same area and perhaps it was then that the shaft was inscribed OL for Over Lypiatt and regarded as a boundary marker.
Some time later in 1822 when the boundary between the parishes of Stroud and Bisley was being determined, a stone was noted at the present location of the Lypiatt Cross and it was probably then that the initials BP, Bisley Parish, were also carved on the surface of the shaft.
In the medieval period, the only route of consequence through this area was the old, possibly Roman, route from Cirencester to Painswick which skirted the north side of Bisley village and ran westwards north of Stancombe following what is now called Catswood Lane. Here it ran close to the probable site of the Anglo-Saxon witan, or meeting place, of the hundred of Bisley. And it was perhaps here on the highest ground in the area, with far-reaching views, that a preaching cross was erected in conjunction with the administrative locus of the hundred.
Whatever its original purpose and wherever its original location, the shaft is urgently in need of protection from the elements.
Richard Bryant and Michael Hare, ‘The Lypiatt Cross’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archeological Society, volume 108, 1990
Huw M. Jones, ‘Observations on the Location of the Lypiatt Cross’, Roman and Saxon Bisley, 2007
|Last Updated ( Saturday, 10 November 2007 )|
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