Churchyard cross in St Mary the Virgin's churchyard
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1016135 .pdf
The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.
This copy shows the entry on 22-Sep-2019 at 11:42:52.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SO 29157 56754
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 an octagonal stepped base, a square socket stone with a niche in its west face and a square to octagonal shaft. Located to the south east of the chancel, and a short distance from the south porch, it is believed to stand in or near to its original position. Whilst most of the cross has survived from medieval times, the reconstruction of the steps, and the present role of the cross as the focus for a memorial garden, illustrate 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 Mary the Virgin's Church, approximately 5m to the south east
of the church, and less than 20m from the south porch. The cross is of stepped
form, and is medieval and later in date. It includes the base of two steps and
a socket stone, and part of the shaft. The cross is Listed Grade II.
The steps are octagonal. The bottom step measures 2.17m in diameter and rises to a height of 80mm above the ground surface. The top step measures 1.16m in diameter and 0.16m in height. Both steps are unmortared and there are gaps between the individual stones. The steps are believed to represent a later addition to the cross. The square socket stone, which is medieval, rests on the top step. It measures 0.78m square by 0.46m high, and has slightly chamfered top corners and an incised octagon on the surface. An ogee-headed niche with relief moulding has been carved into the west face of the socket stone. Internally it measures 0.34m high, 0.15m wide and 0.13m deep. Niches are 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 remains of the shaft are mortised into the socket stone and bonded with lead. This fragment is 0.2m square at the base and rises through chamfered corners to a tapering octagonal section, and stands to a height of 0.64m. The full height of the cross is 1.34m.
The modern gravel surface and garden furniture around the cross 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:
Books and journals
Marples, B, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club' in The Niche in Medieval Churchyard Crosses, , Vol. 40, (1972), 321-332
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