Churchyard cross in St Michael and All Angels' churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016129

Date first listed: 24-Sep-1997


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross in St Michael and All Angels' 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: Brampton Abbotts

National Grid Reference: SO 60100 26395

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 at St Michael and All Angels is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a square stepped base. Situated near the south porch of the church it is believed to stand in or near to its original position. Whilst only the steps and the lower part of the socket stone have survived from medieval times the subsequent restoration of the cross, with the addition of the upper part of the socket stone, 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 Michael and All Angels' Church, approximately ten metres from the south porch of the church. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is of stepped form and is principally medieval in date with some later additions. The monument includes a base of three steps and a socket stone, the shaft and the head.

The steps are square in plan and are constructed of grey sandstone blocks, similar to the stone used in the construction of the church. The socket stone rests on the uppermost step. It is made up of two stones, one directly above the other. The lower stone is medieval; it is square at the base, and rises up through chamfered corners to form an octagon. The upper stone is modern; it is octagonal at the base, and also rises through chamfered corners to a smaller octagon, and then to a square section, where it fits neatly with the shaft. The lower part of the socket stone has an ogee-headed niche cut into its western face, 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. Resting on the top of the socket stone is the shaft. This is formed by two stone uprights, each 2.5m high and 0.3m by 0.15m square. They are fitted together vertically to form a tapering octagonal shaft with a diameter of 0.3m. The head takes the form of a ringed crucifix. The upper part of the socket stone, the shaft and the head are all later additions, thought to date from the 19th century. The full height of the cross is approximately 4.5m.

The surface of the tarmac pathway on the north and west sides of the monument, and the gravestone directly to the east, 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: 29850

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hopton, M, The Crosses of Herefordshire, (1901)
RCHM, An Inventory of the Monuments of Herefordshire, (1932)

End of official listing