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Churchyard cross in St Mary the Virgin'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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Churchyard cross in St Mary the Virgin's churchyard

List entry Number: 1015455

Location

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

County: Somerset

District: Sedgemoor

District Type: District Authority

Parish: North Petherton

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 22-Dec-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 02-Jan-1997

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 28820

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

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.

Although the shaft and head of the cross are missing, the standing cross in the churchyard at North Petherton is an impressive monument of the medieval period. It survives well in what is likely to be its original location. The medieval cross relates to the medieval church of St Mary The Virgin.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a restored cross built into the south facing slope of the churchyard at North Petherton, c.22m north of the church of St Mary the Virgin. The cross, which is Listed Grade II*, has an octagonal two step calvary, pedestal and socket stone. The first step of the calvary is 3.2m in diameter and 0.7m high. The second step is 2.3m in diameter and 0.5m high. Above this is the octagonal pedestal 1.5m across and 0.3m high, and on it sits the square base of the socket stone. The socket stone has attached shafts at all its angles, except the north west, where the shaft is missing. There is additional decoration in the form of quatrefoils on each face of the socket stone. The top of the stone is octagonal. It is 1.5m wide and 0.7m high, with a socket 0.4m square in its upper face. The socket is lead lined containing the remains of a shaft cut flush with the top of the socket stone. The calvary is constructed from Ham Stone blocks. The socket stone is hewn from one piece of Ham Stone. These all have the appearance of great age, and the cross is considered to be 15th century. Contemporary records show that in 1877 the shaft was still present and tapered to a height of c.2m. The remains of the shaft were removed in 1962, being considered unsafe. It is believed there is stone at a depth of c.0.2m under the surface surrounding the cross, and to a width of 0.8m from the calvary base. This may suggest further calvary stones around the cross.

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
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 173

National Grid Reference: ST 29027 33052

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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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 - 1015455 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 21-Sep-2018 at 06:38:11.

End of official listing