Churchyard cross in St Swithin's churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017812

Date first listed: 18-Mar-1998


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

District: Solihull (Metropolitan Authority)

Parish: Barston

National Grid Reference: SP 20767 77998


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 Swithin's churchyard is a good example of a medieval standing cross with an octagonal stepped base and octagonal socket stone. Situated in a prominent position close to the south east angle of the church, it is believed to stand in its original position. Considerable remains survive from the medieval period, whilst the subsequent restoration of the shaft and head illustrates the continued function of the cross as a public monument and amenity.


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


The monument includes the two steps, socket stone, shaft and head of a standing cross of red sandstone. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is located within the churchyard of St Swithin's Church, approximately 12m south east of the east end of the church. It is of stepped form and principally medieval in date with some later additions. The steps are octagonal in plan. The bottom step measures 1.92m in width and is 0.27m high, and is partly bonded to the foundations with mortar. The top step measures 1.24m in width, and is 0.22m high. Both steps are chamfered on their upper outside edge. The socket stone is octagonal and measures 0.75m in width and 0.59m high, and is also chamfered on its upper outside edge. The squared end of the shaft, measuring 0.3m by 0.3m, is morticed into the socket. The shaft rises through chamfered corners to a tapering octagonal section and measures approximately 0.76m high. The remainder of the cross shaft and the head are 19th century additions. The full height of the cross is over 2m. The gravestones, where they fall within the cross'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 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: 30025

Legacy System: RSM


Various SMR Officers, Unpublished notes in SMR files,

End of official listing