Churchyard cross in St Denys's 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.

Malvern Hills (District Authority)
Severn Stoke
National Grid Reference:
SO 85621 43979

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 Denys's churchyard is a good example of a medieval standing cross, with a moulded socket stone with a niche in its south face. Situated close to the church it is thought to stand in or near its original position. Whilst parts of the cross have survived from medieval times, subsequent restoration has resulted in its continued function as a public monument and amenity.


The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross, located within the churchyard of St Denys's Church, approximately 4m to the south of the chancel. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is principally medieval in date. It includes the base, composed of a medieval plinth, a modern granite block and a socket stone, the lower part of the shaft and a later iron attachment at the top of the shaft.

The base is square in plan and made up of two stages surmounted by a socket stone. The bottom stage, which takes the form of a plinth, measures 1.35m square by 0.31m high at the bottom. It consists of eight sandstone blocks, each scored with diagonal lines. The sides chamfer upwards to a smaller square, which matches the dimensions of the upper stage, which consists of a modern granite block, 1.23m square by 0.47m high. Resting on this block is the socket stone, which is cut out of sandstone. It measures 0.79m square at the base, and rises through chamfered corners to an octagonal section; the sides are then bevelled upwards to a smaller octagon. This then increases in size to a larger octagon which rises upwards through a moulded cornice to a smaller octagon, 0.6m in diameter. The height of the socket stone is 0.7m. Cut into its south face is an elaborate ogee-headed niche which extends through the moulding at the top of the socket stone and is thought to have been carved to hold the Pyx or Holy Water when Mass was celebrated at the cross, or to hold a statue or icon. The lower part of the shaft is mortised into the socket stone with lead. It is 0.27m square at the base, rising through chamfered corners to a tapering octagonal section, and is 1.47m high. The plinth, the socket stone and shaft are medieval in date. At the very top of the shaft is a later iron attachment, with three legs and four arms, fixed to the shaft by an iron band.

The gravestone immediately to the north of the cross, and the surface of the tarmac path immediately to the west, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Hopton, M, The Crosses of Herefordshire, (1901)
Marples, B, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club' in The Niche in Medieval Churchyard Crosses, , Vol. 40, (1972), 332


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

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