Churchyard cross in St Swithin's churchyard
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Oct-2019 at 11:55:06.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SO 52970 16297
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 Swithin's churchyard is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a square stepped base and a square socket stone. Situated in a prominent position close to the south east entrance to the churchyard it is believed to stand in or near to its original position. Whilst only the foundations, steps and socket stone have survived from medieval times, the subsequent restoration of the shaft and the head illustrates the continued function of the cross as a public monument and amenity.
The monument includes a standing stone cross, located within the churchyard of
St Swithin's Church, approximately 28m to the south of the chancel. The cross
is of stepped form and is principally medieval in date with some later
additions. The monument includes the foundation, the base of two steps and a
socket stone, the shaft, the knop and the head.
The steps are square in plan. The bottom step measures 1.78m in diameter and at least 0.16m in height. It is bonded to the foundations with mortar. The top step measures 1.22m square and 0.26m high. Both steps have been reduced by a shallow bevel on the surface. The socket stone measures 0.74m square and 0.28m high, and is also reduced by a bevel at the very top, to 0.6m square. The socket hole which is 0.24m square, has been lined with concrete to fit the narrow modern shaft. This is 0.15m square at the base, and rises through chamfered corners to a tapering octagonal section. The shaft is 1.4m in height. The octagonal knop is surmounted by the cross head, which takes the form of an equal-armed crucifix with foliate decoration. Both the knop and head are modern. The full height of the cross is 2.7m.
The gravestones to the north, east and south 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.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
RCHM, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Herefordshire, (1934)
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