Reasons for Designation
A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone,
mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD).
Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as
stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm
Sunday. Elsewhere, standing crosses were used within settlements as places for
preaching, public proclamation and penance, as well as defining rights of
sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between
parishes, property, or settlements. A few crosses were erected to commemorate
battles. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and
protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Crosses in market
places may have helped to validate transactions. After the Reformation, some
crosses continued in use as foci for municipal or borough ceremonies, for
example as places for official proclamations and announcements; some were the
scenes of games or recreational activity.
Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have
numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation
has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and
religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by
iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval
standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The
oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft
often set directly in the ground without a base. The most common form is the
stepped cross, in which the shaft is set in a socket stone and raised upon a
flight of steps; this type of cross remained current from the 11th to 12th
centuries until after the Reformation. Where the cross-head survives it may
take a variety of forms, from a lantern-like structure to a crucifix; the more
elaborate examples date from the 15th century. Much less common than stepped
crosses are spire-shaped crosses, often composed of three or four receding
stages with elaborate architectural decoration and/or sculptured figures; the
most famous of these include the Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I at the
stopping places of the funeral cortege of his wife, who died in 1290. Also
uncommon are the preaching crosses which were built in public places from the
13th century, typically in the cemeteries of religious communities and
cathedrals, market places and wide thoroughfares; they include a stepped base,
buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either a shaft and
head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly to our
understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our
knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns. All crosses which
survive as standing monuments, especially those which stand in or near their
original location, are considered worthy of protection.
The churchyard cross at Marston is a good example of a medieval standing cross
with a stepped base which was restored in the early post-medieval period.
Situated near the south porch, the cross is believed to stand in or near its
original position. Limited disturbance of the area immediately surrounding the
cross indicates that archaeological deposits relating to the monument's
construction and use in this location are likely to survive intact. While
parts of the cross have survived from medieval times, the post-medieval
restoration has resulted in its continued function as a public monument and
The monument includes a medieval churchyard cross located in the churchyard of
St Mary's Church, Marston, approximately 4m south of the south east corner of
the south porch. The cross is medieval in origin with post-medieval additions.
The monument includes the base, comprising two steps, a socket-stone and
plinth, and the shaft and head.
The base of the cross takes the form of two steps, a socket-stone and a
plinth. The steps are formed of rectangular slabs of limestone and are square
in section: the lower is about 1.4m square and the upper 1.05m square.
On the upper step rests the socket-stone, a large block approximately 0.74m
square and 0.66m high. It is of typical medieval form, plain with broaches
(semi-pyramidal shaped blocks) and chamfered upper corners creating a top of
octagonal section. Into the top of the stone has been cut a large recess,
0.54m square in section and about 20mm deep, into which the plinth is set. The
plinth is about 0.27m high, of square section at the base with slightly
chamfered upper corners, and with a moulded architectural base of circular
section above. Both the plinth and the recess into which the plinth fits are
post-medieval in date. Resting on the top of the plinth is the shaft, also
post-medieval, composed of two stones fixed together with iron clamps. They
are round in section and taper slightly upwards. The top of the upper stone is
slightly chamfered to fit to the head, which takes the form of a block of
triangular section below a moulding, also triangular in section, with a
rounded, spherical top. There are iron brackets fixed to all three sides of
the triangular block which form the gnomen of sundials on all three sides. The
whole of the shaft and its head is post-medieval in date. The full height of
the cross is nearly 3m.
This cross is also Listed Grade II.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 1 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.