Churchyard cross in St Mary the Virgin's churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016127

Date first listed: 24-Sep-1997


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross in St Mary the Virgin's churchyard
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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: Much Cowarne

National Grid Reference: SO 61882 47125


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 remains of the churchyard cross at St Mary the Virgin's represent a good example of a medieval standing cross with a square stepped base, socket stone and shaft. Situated close to the south east corner of the church, it is believed to stand in or near to its original position. The cross has continued in use as a public monument and amenity from medieval times until the present day.


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


The monument includes the remains of a medieval standing stone cross located within the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin's Church, approximately 6m to the south east of the church. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, includes a rubble foundation, a base composed of a single step and socket stone and a fragment of the shaft. The cross stands on a rubble foundation which, on the south and west sides, can be seen through the grass. The step is square in plan and made up of two sandstone blocks, similar to those used in the construction of the church, and measures 1.12m square by 0.26m high. The socket stone rests on the step and is square to octagonal in plan. The stone, particularly on the south side, is highly weathered; it measures 0.64m square by 0.44m high. The shaft is mortised into the socket stone and bonded with lead. It measures 0.28m square, and rises from a square section through chamfered corners to a tapering octagonal section. Only a 1.39m section of the shaft remains. A number of iron bolts embedded into the terminal of the shaft may either be indicative of the sundial which was recorded in 1969 but no longer survives, or represent `dowels' for joining the upper and lower parts of the shaft. The overall height of the monument is 2.1m. The gravemarker to the north of the cross is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath it 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: 29848

Legacy System: RSM


OS, FKB, (1960)
RCHM, An Inventory of the Monuments of Herefordshire, (1932)

End of official listing