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.
Though in poor repair and missing its shaft and cross head, the cross in St
Peter's churchyard is a good example of a simple churchyard cross which
appears to be in its original location. Its proximity to the medieval parish
church suggests that it played an important role in religious festivals during
the Middle Ages though it may alternatively have had a sepulchral function.
The monument is a medieval churchyard cross whose remains include a calvary or
stepped base of three steps, one of which is partially buried. Originally
there would also have been a shaft and cross head. These components are now
missing, however, and have been replaced by an 18th or 19th century sundial.
The cross is located approximately 20m south of the current early 19th century
Church of St Peter. It is associated, however, with the medieval parish church
whose buried remains will survive in the churchyard. These remains have not
been included in the scheduling as their extent and state of preservation is
not sufficiently understood. The steps of the cross are constructed of
gritstone blocks and measure roughly 2.5m square. Their total visible height
is approximately 50cm and it is expected that the buried step was originally
some 25cm-30cm high. In the top step is a socket hole whose appearance
indicates a square cross shaft with a diameter of approximately 35cm. The
sundial comprises a tapering octagonal pillar, approximately 1m high, with a
moulded square capital and its gnomon still in place.
The graves which fall within the area of the scheduling are excluded from the
scheduling though the ground underneath is included.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.