Lilla’s Cross

There are crosses situated all over the moors of North Yorkshire, some are barely even noticeable anymore as there is almost nothing left of them, but a handful of others are still in tact.

Lilla’s cross is the most famous of the stone crosses, and is one of the very few that are still in its original form.

Lilla’s Cross circa 1930, photo taken by Woodward

It lives upon what is assumed to be a Bronze-Aged Bowl, between Whitby and Pickering, called Lilla Howe and towers above all those who go and visit it at 10foot tall. A small ‘C’ is carved into the cross, though no one is absolutely sure what this stands for.
The origin of the cross is unknown, as it is so old there are no recorded documents of what it was built for and why it was built though folklore passed down from centuries tells us that in AD 626 King Edwin (of Northumbria) had asked for the cross to be erected for a fallen comrade. 
King Edwin was travelling along the moors with his group of men, all feeling particularly safe in the outstretch of land that was before them.
Though little did the king know someone had been hired to kill him , and as the assassin came at the king (almost coming from nowhere) with a sword King Edwin’s Chief Minister, Lilla, jumped in front of the king, taking the brunt of the attack and dying to save the king. 
King Edwin was so touched and impressed by Lilla’s bravery and loyalty he erected the cross where Lilla died so that people would always remember his legacy.
If this tale is true it didn’t happen in AD 626 unless another cross was there before the cross that stands today, as it is believed that the current Lilla’s cross was erected in the 10th Century. It’s purpose, we may never know.


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