Medieval cross in Ightfield churchyard

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015296

Date first listed: 08-Jan-1971

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Dec-1996

Map

Ordnance survey map of Medieval cross in Ightfield churchyard
© 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.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Ightfield

National Grid Reference: SJ 59250 38659

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 cross in Ightfield churchyard is a good example of a medieval standing cross with an octagonal stepped base and unusual ornate socket stone. It is believed to stand in its original position, and limited development in the area immediately surrounding the cross suggests that archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction and use in this location are likely to survive intact. The restoration of the cross shaft and head illustrates its continued function as a public monument and amenity.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a standing stone cross located in the churchyard at Ightfield, c.8m ESE of the south porch. The cross has a stepped base and ornate socket stone of medieval date, and a restored shaft and head. The base is octagonal in plan and has four steps, with a diameter of 3m at the base and a total height of c.1.2m. The octagonal socket stone measures 0.85m in diameter by 0.8m high. It has a moulded base and rim, and each cardinal face contains a quatrefoil in relief within a square. The diagonal faces each have applied pillars in the form of figures whose detail is obscured by weathering. The restored shaft is octagonal in section with a moulded base, and tapers slightly to a decorated neck with arched niches set into each face at the top. The simple cross head has a moulded base and both shaft and arms are also octagonal in section. The gravel surface around the cross and the concrete step from the path are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 27567

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Cranage, DHS, Churches of Salop II, Pt 8, (1903), 699

End of official listing