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Sandbach Crosses

Sandbach, Cheshire

These are two Saxon crosses, sandstone obelisks, elaborately carved with animals and Biblical scenes including the Nativity of Christ and the Crucifixion, and they dominate the cobbled market square of Sandbach. They are thought to date from the 8th or 9th century, and originally painted as well as carved, they are among the finest surviving examples of Anglo-Saxon high crosses. Some say as a monument to the introduction of Christianity into the area - but nobody really knows why they were created or even erected here. They are heavily carved and show religious scenes, doll-like heads and beasts in panels, together with vine-scrolls, interlaced patterns and some dragons.

During the 7th Century Sandbach is believed to have been the pagan kingdom of Mercia. Legends suggest that King Penda of Mercia arranged the marriage of his son Paeda to Princess Alchfleda (daughter of Oswy the King of Northumbria). Puritan Iconoclasts broke up the crosses in the 17th century and the stones were scattered over a large area. They were eventually recovered and re-erected on their original site in 1816 and the square where they sit was also cobbled at this time.

The crosses are two upright columns set in sockets on a base of three stepped stones. The northern cross is the taller and has a mutilated head. It has carvings of scenes from the Bible showing John the Baptist, the Birth of Jesus, his trial and crucifixion, the Ascension, the ascent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles.

The southern cross is truncated and has a mutilated head from a different cross, and shows scenes of events leading up and including Paeda's conversion and eventual marriage to Alchfleda. They have always been a pair and were carved by the same hand.


It is a little confusing when you arrive at Sandbach as these crosses are in the Market Square of the town and from most of roads going through the town they are not visible, however when you approach the town from the M6 J17 following the signs into town centre (Congleton Road) two crosses appear in front of you inside a fenced garden area. These two crosses are in fact a modern sculpture based on the originals that were created October 2006 and are carved in old English Oak using the ancient crosses as a theme. Behind them is a free car park and if you park in here you can then walk through a pedestrian area to Market Square and see the original Saxon ones.

Sandbach is a pretty little town with other attractions worth photographing like:

  • The church (although this can be a challenge because of the trees)

  • Town Pump - an old hand powered water pump

  • The Old Hall a half timbered building (now a hotel)

  • The Lower Chequer said to be the oldest building in town dating from around 1570, it has a mounting block at the side which enabled travellers to mount and alight from coach and horses

  • The Fountain in the centre island of the roundabout erected in 1890

  • and some other interesting architecture and more around the town

Well worth a stop off on a longer journey.

Click on the smaller images to see larger versions

Further information Grid



Sandbach Crosses, Sandbach, Cheshire

Ceremonial County: Cheshire

Grid Reference:


Map Link:


Aerial photo:

Google Aerial Photo

Multimap Aerial Photo



Best Times to Visit:





English Heritage

Other useful websites:

Wiki    Megalithic.co.uk   www.sandbach.info 

Sandbach Town Council page

Nearby Locations:  
Other Relevant pages:  



Date Updated: 08/2008


Planning Grid


Sandbach Crosses, Sandbach, Cheshire

Grid Reference:


Getting there:

From M6 J71 take the A534 towards Crewe take the first right, Congleton Road which is signposted to town centre. Follow this round until you see the replica town crosses in front of you. Park in the car park behind.


Market Square - a preserved cobbled area in the centre of town off High Street.


Car Park in The Commons (triangle) then walk through the pedestrian shopping area opposite and the Saxon crosses are in front of you.


None specific but the town has shops, eating places etc

Things To Do, See and Photograph:

Crosses, a number of interesting buildings, the church which has an unusual outside walk through bell tower, is difficult to photograph as it is surrounded by trees from all sides.

What to take:


Nature highlights:



Market Square







Opening times:

Any reasonable time



Photo Restrictions:

No restrictions, however watch for the position of the sun as at some times of the day they will be in heavy shadow.

Other Restrictions:  
Special Needs Access: Wheelchair use over the cobbles would be difficult, but you can get a view from the roadside path.
Special Needs Facilities: None specific at crosses
Children Facilities: None specific at crosses
Dogs Allowed: No dogs allowed

CIN Page Ref:


Date Updated: 08/2008

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