Churchyard cross in St Milburga's churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019760

Date first listed: 09-May-2001


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

County: Warwickshire

District: Stratford-on-Avon (District Authority)

Parish: Wixford

National Grid Reference: SP 09015 54932


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 remains of the churchyard cross in St Milburga's churchyard represent a good example of a medieval standing cross with a stepped base. Situated to the south of the south aisle it is believed to stand at or near its original position. Limited disturbance in the area immediately around the cross indicates archaeological deposits relating to its construction and use in this location will survive largely intact.


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


The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross located in St Milburga's churchyard approximately 3.5m south of the south eastern corner of the south aisle. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is medieval in origin with later additions. The monument includes the base, of three steps and the socket stone, and the shaft, all of limestone.

The base of the cross includes three steps of square plan and constructed of blocks of stone. The bottom step measures 2.6m square, and together the three steps stand approximately 0.9m high. Set on the top step is the socket-stone, a single block measuring 0.9m square at the base with moulded and chamfered corners rising to a top of octagonal section. Fixed in the socket stone are the remains of the medieval shaft, 0.25m square in section at the base with chamfered corners rising in tapering octagonal section to a height of 0.3m. On the top of this section of shaft is an integral rounded tenon on which the upper part of the shaft would have been fixed. The upper part of the shaft and the cross-head are no longer in place.

The gravestones which lie immediately to the north and south of the cross 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: 33143

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Salzman, LF (ed), The Victoria History of the County of Warwickshire: Volume III, (1945), 192
WA1513, (1999)

End of official listing