History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
The crosses are elaborately carved in fine Celtic style with Biblical scenes, animal figures, and geometric patterns. Interestingly, it is thought that the crosses were originally painted, though no trace of any paint is apparent to the eye when you look at them now.
If you can imagine the beautifully carved scenes brightly painted the crosses would have been an extraordinary sight! Together, the crosses represent one of the best surviving examples of Saxon carving.
The larger north cross is carved with Biblical scenes. At the top of the east face is a scene showing the Three Magi appearing before Mary. Below this is a Crucifixion with the four gospel writers surrounding the cross, and Mary with St John the Disciple below. Below the Crucifixion is a Nativity scene, followed by a Transfiguration.
Finally, there is a large circle depicting the Foundation of the Church, showing Jesus with St Peter and St Paul. All that is just one face of one cross! Some of the other carvings are more difficult to interpret, but there are human and animal figures interspersed with the ebullient geometric design so common in the late Saxon period.
It is disappointing and perhaps a little surprising that we do not know more about the origin of the crosses. The information sign on the base of the crosses simply says that they were erected by a Saxon king to proclaim the Christian message in an area that had only recently been converted to Christianity.
In that respect, the crosses can be viewed as a sort of Saxon billboard - a visual retelling of the Christian story to a largely illiterate audience.
The crosses are well signposted from the surrounding major roads, but in truth, it is hard to miss them - just head for the centre of Sandbach!
About Sandbach Crosses
Address: Market Square, Sandbach, Cheshire, England, CW11 1AT
Attraction Type: Historic Building - Saxon cross
Location: In the market square, just off the A533. Open access site.
Website: Sandbach Crosses
English Heritage - see also: English Heritage memberships (official website)
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Opening Details: Open access site, usually accessible at any reasonable time
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Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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