Churchyard cross in St Bartholomew's churchyard
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 19-May-2019 at 19:44:47.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- City of Wolverhampton (Metropolitan Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SO 89432 95286
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 Bartholomew's churchyard is an important example of a medieval standing cross, with later additions. Situated in a prominent position close to the west entrance of the church, the medieval cross was originally sited immediately to the south of the nave of the church, above the remains of a pre-Norman standing cross which was uncovered in 1912 during restoration. Whilst the cross has been moved, its original position is documented, and the re-siting and restoration of the cross in 1912 forms part of its history and highlights its importance as a public monument. The steps, socket stone and shaft survive from the medieval period, whilst the addition of a lantern head in the early 20th century confirms its continuing importance to the community as a landmark and public amenity.
The monument includes the three steps, socket stone, shaft and the later knop
and lantern head of a standing cross of red sandstone. The cross, which is
Listed Grade II, is located within the churchyard of St Bartholomew's Church,
approximately 5m west of the west entrance. The cross is of stepped form, and
is principally medieval in date with some later additions. It stands to a
height of 4m.
The steps are square in plan with the bottom step measuring 2.77m wide and 0.45m high. This bottom step is partly bonded to the foundations with mortar. The middle step measures 2.12m square and 0.24m high, whilst the top step measures 1.45m square and 20cm high. The steps are chamfered on their upper outside edge.
The socket stone is square and measures 0.88m in width, and is at least 0.47m high. The socket stone is also chamfered on its upper outside edge. The squared end of the shaft is morticed into the socket. The shaft rises through chamfered corners to a tapering octagonal section. The knop and the head, which is lantern-shaped with figurative scenes on each of the four faces including the Crucifixion and the Virgin Mary, are early 20th century additions.
The medieval cross was originally sited immediately to the south of the nave of the church, above the remains of a pre-Norman standing cross which was uncovered in 1912 during restoration of the medieval cross. The pre-Norman cross, which is the subject of a separate scheduling, was consolidated in situ and presented for display in a stone revetted pit. The medieval cross was re- sited to its present position.
The gravestones and path, 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:
- Legacy System:
Various SMR Officers, Notes in SMR File unpublished,
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing