Cross in St Mary's churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016434

Date first listed: 16-Apr-1999


Ordnance survey map of Cross in St Mary's churchyard
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Dudley (Metropolitan Authority)

National Grid Reference: SO 89377 89281


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 cross in St Mary's churchyard is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a square stepped base and square socket stone. Situated in a prominent position close to the south entrance to the church, it is believed to stand in or near its original position. The majority of the cross survives from the medieval period, and the subsequent restoration of the lantern head illustrates the continued function of the cross as a public monument.


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


The monument includes the foundations, three steps, socket stone, shaft, knop and lantern head of a standing cross of sandstone, located in the churchyard of St Mary's Church, approximately 7m south west of the east end of the church. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is of stepped form and principally medieval in date with some later additions. The steps are square in plan. The bottom step measures 3.26m wide, and is at least 27cm high. The south east corner of the bottom step was cut through when the path was constructed. The step is partially bonded to the foundations with mortar. The middle step measures 2.64m wide, and is at least 28cm high. The top step measures 1.95m wide, and is at least 19cm high. The socket stone is square chamfered to octagonal, measuring 1.16m wide and is at least 0.56m high. The socket stone is chamfered on its upper outside edge and bears a weathered shield with a cross motif carved in relief on its western face. The squared end of the shaft measures 0.40m wide and is morticed into the socket. The shaft rises through chamfered corners to a tapering octagonal section. The medieval cross shaft survives to a height of approximately 2.45m. The remainder of the cross, the knop and the lantern head are later additions, although they may also be medieval in date. The lantern measures 0.4m square and is 0.5m high. The full height of the cross is over 3m. The gravestones and path where they fall within the monument's protective margin 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 2 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: 30037

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing