Putley churchyard cross


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015449

Date first listed: 01-Aug-1996


Ordnance survey map of Putley churchyard cross
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Putley

National Grid Reference: SO 64612 37593


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 at Putley is a well preserved example of a stepped cross with an unusual sculpted head. Limited activity in the area immediately surrounding the cross suggests that archaeological deposits relating to its construction and use in this location are likely to survive intact. The survival of the monument in its original location indicates its continuing use as a public monument and amenity.


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


The monument includes a medieval standing stone cross situated in the churchyard of Putley church, approximately 15m south east of the south porch. The 14th century cross has an octagonal socket stone set on three steps, with a chamfered shaft and ornamented head. The three steps are square in plan, and constructed of large sandstone blocks, up to 0.3m deep. The structure has subsided slightly and the bottom step, which is roughly 2.5m square, has sunk to ground level. The socket stone is a sandstone block, c.0.47m high and c.0.64m square at the base, chamfered above broach stops and rising to an octagonal section with sides of 0.28m. There is an arched niche roughly 0.3m high in the west face of the socket stone. The square base of the shaft retains the lead sinkings, and the shaft itself tapers and is again chamfered above broach stops to an octagonal section. The shaft is roughly 1.5m in height. The head takes the form of a gabled canopy, c.0.47m high and rectangular in section. Each face carries figure sculpture. The east face depicts the Virgin and Child, the north face St Andrew, the west face presents Christ on the cross, and south face shows a prelate holding a staff. The latter is much worn, missing its head and the gable. The style of the sculpture indicates a 14th century date for the cross. The grave cover to the south of the cross and the grave marker to the west are totally excluded from the scheduling.

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.


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

Legacy System number: 27528

Legacy System: RSM


OS - quoted on SMR, DRB, (1971)
photo, RCHM, Herefordshire, Volume 2, (1932)

End of official listing