Churchyard cross in St John the Baptist and St Alkmund's churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016137

Date first listed: 08-Jul-1997


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross in St John the Baptist and St Alkmund'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: Aymestrey

National Grid Reference: SO 42565 65136


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 John the Baptist and St Alkmund's represents a good example of a medieval standing cross with an octagonal stepped base, a square to octagonal socket stone and a shaft. Situated in a prominent position between the main east entrance to the church and the lychgate on the east boundary of the churchyard it is believed to stand in or near to its original position. Whilst most of the cross has survived from medieval times, its subsequent restoration has demonstrates its continued function as a public monument and amenity.


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


The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross, located within the churchyard of St John the Baptist's and St Alkmund's Church, approximately 23m to the east of the east tower which serves as the main entrance to the church. The cross is medieval in date with later additions and includes a base of five steps and a socket stone, a shaft, a knop and a decorated finial with an iron pinnacle on top. It is Listed Grade II.

The steps are octagonal in plan. The five steps have diameters of 3.6m, 3m, 2.65m, 2m and 1.2m, and range in height from 0.21m to 0.31m. Each step is composed of two layers of sandstone blocks mortared together. The socket stone measures 0.64m square at the base and rises through chamfered corners to a moulded octagonal section on the surface. The shaft is mortised into the socket stone and bonded with lead. It is 0.2m square at the base, rising through chamfered corners to a tapering octagonal section. It extends to a height of 2.4m. At the top of the shaft is an octagonal moulded capital, approximately 0.12m high which supports a decorative crown-shaped finial. Immediately above the finial is a small round stone supporting a five armed iron pinnacle, which may represent the remains of a weather vane. The overall height of the cross is approximately 5m.

The gravestone which stands immediately to the north east 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: 29874

Legacy System: RSM


RCHM, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Herefordshire, (1934)

End of official listing