Churchyard cross, St George's Church

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015270

Date first listed: 31-Jan-1997

Map

Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross, St George's Church
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: Breckland (District Authority)

Parish: South Acre

National Grid Reference: TF 81004 14342

Summary

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

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 in St George's churchyard is a good example of a medieval standing cross, and the surviving lower part of the shaft displays some unusual architectural details. Situated near the churchyard gate, it is believed to stand on or near its original position, and archaeological deposits relating to its construction and use are likely to be preserved in the ground immediately around and beneath it. The cross has undergone no post-medieval restoration and has continued in use as a public monument from the medieval period to the present day.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the lower part of a medieval churchyard cross situated in the churchyard of St George's Church, South Acre, c.20m south of the church and c.5m north west of the churchyard gate. The cross, which is also Listed Grade II and is thought to be of 14th or 15th century date, is of limestone and is constructed in two parts. At the base is a rectangular socket stone measuring c.0.74m east-west by c.0.78m north-south with spurs at the upper angles, and this is hollowed on the upper surface to a depth of c.3cm. The lower part of the shaft of the cross, which is cemented into the centre of the hollow, tapers slightly and is octagonal in cross section, with alternate straight and hollow chamfering and crocket stops above a square foot. The upper part of the shaft and head are missing. The socket stone is partly buried and stands c.0.3m above the present ground surface, and the shaft rises to a height of c.0.85m above this, the overall height being c.1.15m.

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.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 21418

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Cozens-Hardy, , 'Norfolk Archaeology' in Norfolk Crosses, , Vol. 25, (1935), 325

End of official listing