Medieval standing cross in The Square


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016884

Date first listed: 16-May-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 16-Apr-1999


Ordnance survey map of Medieval standing cross in The Square
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Warwickshire

District: Rugby (District Authority)

Parish: Dunchurch

National Grid Reference: SP 48476 71229


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 standing cross in The Square at Dunchurch survives well and is believed to stand at or near to its original position on the crossroads in the village market place. During the medieval period the cross may have served a variety of functions, acting both as a market cross and preaching place. Its survival and reuse as a public monument and mile post in the late 19th century, demonstrates its continued function as a local landmark and focus of village activity. Subsequent restorations marking important dates of the 20th century demonstrate its continuing importance.


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


The monument includes the foundations, four steps and shaft of a sandstone standing cross, located in The Square, at the south west end of what was formerly an extensive village green or small market place. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is of stepped form and principally medieval in date with some later additions. The steps are octagonal in plan and have been reduced by a bevel on the upper surface. Each step measures 0.2m high and 0.3m deep. The base of the cross measures 3.2m in diameter, and the cross is partially bonded with mortar. The shaft is morticed directly into the top step and rises to a tapering octagonal section. The medieval cross shaft survives up to a height of approximately 0.8m. The shaft of the cross has been modified in the post-medieval period, including the addition of an extension to the shaft in order to reuse the monument as a mile post. The medieval cross shaft survives up to a height of approximately 0.8m. The extension rises from a square block, chamfered at the corners, to a tapering octagonal obelisk. The full height of the cross is over 3.2m. A stone panel including a relief carving of a stag has been inserted into the east face of the obelisk. The four faces of the square stone block are inscribed with the distances to Oxford, Leicester, Hollyhead and London. Also carved into the faces of the obelisk are further inscriptions. All modern surfaces and street furniture, where they fall within the cross's protective margin 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: 30061

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing