Standing cross in St Mary's churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017313

Date first listed: 24-Sep-1999


Ordnance survey map of Standing cross in St Mary's churchyard
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

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 - 1017313 .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 13-Dec-2018 at 15:24:30.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cheshire West and Chester (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Saighton

National Grid Reference: SJ 43761 60535


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 finely designed late medieval cross in the St Mary's churchyard is important as an indication of the liturgical and parochial functions of standing crosses at this period. The remains are also evidence of Catholic recusant attempts to rescue such monuments from the ravages of iconoclasts during the Reformation. The cross stands in its original location on the southern side of the church.


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


The monument includes the remains of a standing cross immediately to the south of the south porch of St Mary's Church, Bruera. The base and part of the shaft survive and have been converted into a sundial. The base is a single block of buff sandstone, square with a slightly chamfered top edge, measuring 0.75m wide by 0.3m high. The socket is smaller than the shaft fragment, providing a mortice and tenon connection. The shaft is also of buff sandstone, squared, tapering slightly and rising from a roll moulding at the base. It measures 0.4m wide and 1.15m high and is decorated with a roll moulding at each corner. This is surmounted by a square capstone of a different type of sandstone which measures 0.3m wide by 0.2m high, with a slight chamfer on the edges of the underside. This has been drilled for fitting a sundial, now missing. On the west side the cap is inscribed TM JH CW and dated 1736. The shaft is inscribed WP HN CHURCHWARDENS 1693 on its west and north faces. Gravestones and a flagged pathway, where they fall within the cross's protective margin, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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: 32561

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing