Churchyard cross in All Saints churchyard
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- North Somerset (Unitary Authority)
- Kingston Seymour
- National Grid Reference:
- ST 40098 66846
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 cross head has been replaced, the standing cross in the churchyard at Kingston Seymour survives well as a visually impressive monument of the medieval period in what is likely to be its original location. The medieval cross relates to the 13th century Church of All Saints.
The monument includes a restored cross situated in the churchyard at Kingston
Seymour c.4m south east of the church.
The cross, which is Listed Grade II, has a five step octagonal calvary, socket
stone, shaft and simple Latin cross head. The first step of the calvary is
0.4m high, and the second, third, fourth and fifth steps are 0.33m, 0.28m,
0.25m and 0.2m high. The first step is 3.8m in diameter with mortared
flagstones on its upper surface forming an overhanging drip, each side of its
octagon being 1.5m long. The width of the octagonal sides of the second,
third, fourth and fifth steps are 1.17m, 1m, 0.72m and 0.5m respectively.
Above the fifth step of the calvary is the octagonal socket stone. The socket
stone has a deep drip on its upper surface which is chamfered obliquely and
below this is a fillet decoration. The lower surface of the socket stone is
bevelled outwards. It is 0.8m wide and 0.55m high with each side of its
octagon being 0.32m long. The central socket 0.3m square in which sits the
square base of the shaft. The shaft is c.1.5m high; its square base is stopped
and the shaft continues in octagonal form as it tapers to a simple Latin cross
The calvary is constructed from stone blocks and mortared flagstones, and the
socket stone is hewn from one piece of stone. Investigation by probing around
the base of the cross at the time of the field visit showed that there appears
to be a platform of stones around the cross and beneath the surface of the
grass at a depth of c.0.1m and to a width of 0.8m from the edges of the
calvary, except on the north west side where a path abuts the cross. The shaft
and cross head were erected in 1863 by Mr James Flack who also designed the
restored cross head. At the same time the calvary, which was in a dilapidated
condition, was repaired. The cross is dated to the 15th century.
There is the socket stone of another cross in the village c.150m to the
north east of the churchyard cross. This has now become incorporated into a
war memorial. It is thought to have been part of the village cross, but there
is no indication of its original location.
The surface of the churchyard path is excluded from the scheduling where this
falls within the area in which buried stone has been recorded, although the
ground beneath is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 30-31
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.
End of official listing