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Mercian cross, St Mary and St John's churchyard

List Entry Summary

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Mercian cross, St Mary and St John's churchyard

List entry Number: 1014511

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Leicestershire

District: Charnwood

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Rothley

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 07-Oct-1954

Date of most recent amendment: 15-May-1996

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 21646

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

High crosses, frequently heavily decorated, were erected in a variety of locations in the eighth, ninth and tenth centuries AD. They are found throughout northern England with a few examples further south. Surviving examples are of carved stone but it is known that decorated timber crosses were also used for similar purposes and some stone crosses display evidence of carpentry techniques in their creation and adornment, attesting to this tradition. High crosses have shafts supporting carved cross heads which may be either free-armed or infilled with a 'wheel' or disc. They may be set within dressed or rough stone bases called socles. The cross heads were frequently small, the broad cross shaft being the main feature of the cross. High crosses served a variety of functions, some being associated with established churches and monasteries and playing a role in religious services, some acting as cenotaphs or marking burial places, and others marking routes or boundaries and acting as meeting places for local communities. Decoration of high crosses divides into four main types: plant scrolls, plaiting and interlace, birds and animals and, lastly, figural representation which is the rarest category and often takes the form of religious iconography. The carved ornamentation was often painted in a variety of colours though traces of these pigments now survive only rarely. The earliest high crosses were created and erected by the native population, probably under the direction of the Church, but later examples were often commissioned by secular patrons and reflect the art styles and mythology of Viking settlers. Several distinct regional groupings and types of high cross have been identified, some being the product of single schools of craftsmen. There are fewer than 50 high crosses surviving in England and this is likely to represent only a small proportion of those originally erected. Some were defaced or destroyed during bouts of iconoclasm during the 16th and 17th centuries. Others fell out of use and were taken down and reused in new building works. They provide important insights into art traditions and changing art styles during the early medieval period, into religious beliefs during the same era and into the impact of the Scandinavian settlement of the north of England. All well-preserved examples are identified as nationally important.

The cross to the south of St Mary and St John's Church is a rare example of a standing cross of the pre-Viking period; it is one of only two near-complete examples in the East Midlands. The Mercian-influenced ornamentation on the shaft makes an important contribution towards the understanding of the regional and chronological variations in the design of early medieval crosses. Situated to the south of the church on a slight mound, it is considered to stand in its original location and thus archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction and use are likely to survive within, beneath and around it. The modern repairs to the shaft illustrate the continued use of the cross as a public monument and amenity from at least the mid-ninth century to the present day.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument includes part of a Mercian cross located in the churchyard of St Mary and St John's Church, Rothley, approximately 10m south of the church. The cross is late eight or ninth century in date with modern repairs, and takes the form of a base, comprising a socket stone and the shaft which has been fashioned from Millstone Grit. The cross, which was originally a monolith, has been broken into four stones at some date and subsequently reasssembled. The cross stands on an earthen mound which has a diameter of 3.9m and rises to 0.6m high at the centre, within which the socket stone is partly buried. Set into the socket stone is the stone shaft, of tapering rectangular section, which measures 0.53m north-south and 0.42m west-east at its base and stands to a height of 3.7m. Each face of the shaft is divided by doubled mouldings into four ornamental panels. The elaborate low relief carved decoration is mostly of interlaced plaitwork and plant scrolls, including whorls of foliage with elongated leaves. One panel on the south face is believed to include a carving of a winged beast or dragon with an interlacing tail, whilst that above the gabled head on the north face has a symmetrical foliate ornament. The grave markers immediately to the north and south west of the cross are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT 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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Kendrick, T D, Anglo-Saxon Art, (1938), 207

National Grid Reference: SK 58613 12637

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1014511 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 15-Dec-2017 at 02:48:42.

End of official listing