The cross is thought to date back to the late seventh century, an early period in the development of Christianity in the area, which spread here from Northumberland. It has been recognised as one of the most important early Christian crosses in Britain.
The cross depicts various biblical scenes, and an early version of the poem ‘The Dream of the Rood’, (the dream of the cross), written in runic characters – there are also fragments of Latin text. The Dream of the Rood is a poem about the crucifixion of Christ setting a general theme for the images of the cross. It is not known why the cross was commissioned, or who commissioned it, perhaps a local leader who wanted to show his dedication to the increasingly popular Christian religion.
The cross has had a somewhat turbulent history, in the 1600’s during the reformation the cross was smashed into two pieces and buried under the church, but was later restored. The cross has suffered from other damage over the years and, including both side arms, which have been replaced.