This intriguing object is the town’s Christian high cross which quite amazingly (well, amazingly to me) dates to the Anglo-Saxon period, with an estimated age of 1,300 years. As another one of my irrelevant asides, I’m slightly puzzled as to why this is still outside, I’d have moved it inside to protect it. It once stood in the Bongate area of the town and it was treated with such enormous respect that in the early nineteenth century it was found by an antiquarian being used as part of the Bongate Toll turnpike.
In the 1850s it was placed in the town’s main square, then moved to Hartrigge House and then in 1955 it was offered by Lord Stratheden to the burgh. This was accepted and the stone was then moved to its current location which is Mary Queen of Scots’ House.
Those holes on the south face are from when the stone was used on the turnpike to support the gate. The nearby information sign about this stone notes that “on this face there would have been two animals standing back to back with their heads facing backwards”.
The west face, “showing animals with long necks and straight legs”.
The north face, showing “two animals standing neck to neck”.
This is the east face and has suffered the most damage, with another turnpike related hole visible. Apparently “it shows a backward-looking animals set in the branching vine”.
I remain fascinated that this stone has survived for so many centuries, albeit in its weather beaten state. I hope that they can secure its long-term future, as it is still in an exposed place. Full credit though for the interesting information board nearby, otherwise it’s fair to say that I wouldn’t have a clue what it was.