Legs Cross
Landmark Darlington County Durham

Legs Cross

Landmark In Darlington, County Durham

The remains of a Saxon Cross adjacent to the B6275 which follows the line of the old Roman Road Dere Street.

Standing proudly on a windswept hilltop in County Durham, adjacent to the former route of Dere Street Roman Road, you will find the wonderfully named Legs Cross. An ancient Anglo-Saxon cross, weathered and eroded by centuries, the cross is now more of an obelisk, but that doesn't make it any less interesting.

The origins of Legs Cross are shrouded in some mystery. Theories abound, with some attributing its creation to the 9th century, while others believe it dates back even further to Romano-British times.

The inscription "LEG", once visible on the base, supposedly gave rise to its name, although there are other theories to be found. One such is that the Anglo-Saxon word "legge" meaning "boundary" suggests it served as a territorial marker, demarcating the limits of an ancient estate, while another is that King James VI of Scotland rested here with crossed legs on his way to claim the throne of England. The “LEG” inscription is also thought to possibly celebrate the 20th Legion of the Roman Army who were based nearby.

While the inscription "LEG" has faded, leaving its meaning open to interpretation, archaeological studies have shed light on the construction and possible purpose of Legs Cross. Excavations surrounding the monument revealed fragments of pottery and other artifacts, dating the cross back to the 8th-9th century AD, aligning with the Anglo-Saxon period. The presence of Roman ceramics nearby hints at the reuse of existing materials, possibly even repurposing a Roman milestone, further enriching the layers of history embedded in the site.

Though time has taken its toll, the cross still bears some intriguing markings. The faint remnants of interlaced patterns, a common motif in Anglo-Saxon art, hint at the decorative splendour it once possessed. These intricate carvings likely held deeper meaning, representing spiritual symbols or narratives from their mythology.

Beyond surface finds, technology adds another dimension to unravelling the mysteries of Legs Cross. In 2021, a geophysical survey employed magnetometry and ground penetrating radar to probe beneath the earth. This non-invasive technique mapped features hidden from the naked eye, revealing potential pits, ditches, medieval land boundaries and other structures surrounding the cross. These findings suggest a larger complex may have existed, hinting at the cross's possible role as a religious centre or boundary marker within a broader settlement.

Legs Cross comprises a shaft and socle in which the shaft is fixed, and stands to a height of 2.6m. It is Grade II* listed by Historic England.

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How To Find Legs Cross

Where Is Legs Cross?

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54.597227, -1.680843

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Where To Park For Legs Cross?

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54.597604, 54.597604

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There is a small area at the crossroads between the B6275 and Brownside Lane where you can pull off the road and park up.

Contributed by Andrew Gardner

I love being outdoors, in nature, and experiencing the relaxation it brings. Wandering through the northern countryside seeing unexpected buildings, historic places and occasionally surprised wildlife is one of life's great pleasures.

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Andrew Gardner

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Legs Cross was listed in Landmark // County Durham // Darlington